Understanding Wrongful Life Claims & How We Can Help
“Claims for ‘wrongful life’ are essentially actions for malpractice based on negligent genetic counseling and testing.” (Gami v. Mullikin Medical Center (1993) 18 Cal. App.4th 870, 883 [22 Cal. Rptr.2d 819].)
California is currently one of only a few states that permit wrongful life lawsuits, which are legal actions asserted by an individual who was born with a genetic disease. They were first recognized by the California Supreme Court in Turpin v. Sorting in 1982 where it was determined that a physician could be liable for failing to inform parents of the potential risk of a child being born with birth defects. Furthermore, this case found that minors have the right to sue for damages for the malpractice committed while they were a fetus/embryo.
In wrongful life claims, the child will sue either a healthcare professional or a hospital for the failure to provide information regarding the risk of themselves being born with either a genetic impairment or disability.
In such cases, it is argued that had the mother been made aware of such information, she would have chosen either to not conceive at all or to not carry the pregnancy to full term. Children who are asserting wrongful life cannot recover special damages such as pain and suffering; they can only recover provable economic damages.
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What elements must be proven in wrongful life claims?
The California Civil Jury Instructions state that the following must be proven to establish a claim:
- The defendant failed to diagnose/warn the plaintiff’s parents of the risk of the plaintiff being born with a genetic impairment/disability—or the defendant failed to perform tests/advise the plaintiff’s parents of tests that would likely disclose the risk of the plaintiff being born with a genetic impairment/disability.
- The plaintiff was born with a genetic impairment/disability.
- If the plaintiff’s parents had known about the genetic impairment/disability, his/her mother would not have conceived the plaintiff or would not have carried the fetus to term.
- The defendant’s negligence substantially caused the plaintiff’s parents to pay extraordinary expenses.
Talk to our caring Los Angeles lawyers today
If you believe that you have grounds to pursue a wrongful life lawsuit, we encourage you to contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at E&L, LLP. These cases are highly complicated as they center on the concept of the value of life itself. They require the attention of a powerful attorney.
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