Sterilization is a reproductive procedure designed to eliminate the possibility of women or transgender individuals with uteruses from conceiving children. While the procedure is very effective, there is still a chance it will fail. You can sue the doctor for wrongful pregnancy if he or she does something that causes the procedure to fail and results in you becoming pregnant. However, you may have a tough time collecting compensation for damages. Here's what you need to know about this issue.
Some States Don't Recognize Wrongful Pregnancy Lawsuits
One of the immediate issues you may be confronted with is your state may not allow litigants to bring wrongful pregnancies lawsuits. Currently, only 42 states allow this cause of action. Nevada, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and South Carolina either don't allow these types of lawsuits or simply don't have any case laws on the books to address this specific issue.
So if you live in one of the states that don't recognize wrongful pregnancy lawsuits, you would need to seek damages using a different cause of action. The good news is there are several other legal theories that may be used in this situation, including regular medical malpractice and negligence.
The bad news is you may be limited in the type of damages you can collect. For instance, some states with wrongful pregnancy laws let plaintiffs ask for money related to the cost of raising a child. However, this option would not be available in a medical malpractice suit, though you could still ask for pain and suffering.
Some States Limit the Type of Damages You Receive
A second challenge that may come up when suing a healthcare provider for a wrongful pregnancy is you may be limited in the type of damages you can ask for. For example, 31 out of the 42 states do not let plaintiffs ask for any money to assist with the cost of raising a child. The current price tag for raising a kid to age 18 is approximately $245,340, a cost people seeking sterilization are generally trying to avoid. However, you may still be compensated for healthcare expenses (e.g. prenatal, delivery, and neonatal care), the cost of the sterilization procedure, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
These states also typically let you collect lost wages associated with dealing with the pregnancy and birth. However, generally only the mother's wages are eligible for compensation. Biological fathers and other family members would have to eat the cost of taking time from their places of employment to help the mother and care for the child.
Another compensation issue is your award may be capped at a certain level. Wrongful pregnancy falls under medical malpractice, and several states limit the amount people can recover in these types of lawsuits. In Florida, for instance, you can only collect up to $500,000 for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, scarring, and loss of companionship. So even if the court agrees you should be paid $2 million for these damages, you'll only get the maximum amount supported by state law.
Seek Out Legal Assistance
Winning compensation for a healthcare provider's negligence that leads to you getting pregnant can be challenging, especially if you live in a state that doesn't support this type of lawsuit. It's critical you hire a personal injury attorney to assist you with developing a viable case. The attorney can look at the challenges inherent in your situation and find workarounds that may result in you getting what you want. For more information about these issues or help with your medical malpractice case, contact a local lawyer from a law firm like Hurth Sisk & Blakemore LLP.