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Paul McNeil, Head of Personal Injury and Medical Negligence
Wrongful birth is the legal term to describe a claim generally brought by parents arising from the birth of a child who would not have been born without negligent treatment.
Such claims fall into two main categories:
- Failed sterilisation/vasectomy
- Failure to warn about a specific disability
You may have a wrongful birth claim if a vasectomy or sterilisation has been unsuccessful, resulting in an unplanned pregnancy. Your legal claim is for the birth of a child that otherwise would not have been conceived.
You can claim for loss of earnings and other financial losses resulting from the unwanted pregnancy and may be able to claim for the physical and emotional pain and distress of an unwanted pregnancy. However, the law remains firm that compensation for the cost of bringing up any child born as a result of the failed sterilisation only applies if that child is disabled.
Failure to warn about specific disabilities
Parents who have not been warned that their child will be born with a specific disability may be able to bring a wrongful birth claim if they would have terminated the pregnancy had they known.
The different birth defects a baby can have include:
- spina bifida
- club feet
- hole in the heart
- Down's syndrome
Such a claim depends on failure of a healthcare professional to diagnose a birth defect that should have been easy to spot (perhaps due to faulty scanning equipment or lack of staff training).
Damages tend to be pursued to provide for the costs of ensuring the welfare and care of a disabled child, rather than the general costs of bringing up any child.
Browse our recent wrongful birth cases.
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