Wrongful Death of a Mother During Child Birth


A wrongful death is most simply defined as the taking of an individual’s life either willfully or as a result of negligence by another person. In the case of a mother’s death during a birth or pregnancy, wrongful death can sometimes be caused by medical negligence, and thus can constitute a medical malpractice case. The following are several situations that can cause death to the mother during the birth process:

Antepartum Hemorrhage

This is the scientific name of bleeding before childbirth and can be caused by several conditions, such as the following:

Placenta Previa

This is the abnormal implantation of the placenta on top or near the cervix. The symptoms usually include bleeding and typically occur after 28 weeks gestation. Around 0.5% of all labors experience placenta previa. The condition is easily diagnosed with a simple ultrasound. However, if it’s not diagnosed properly, it can be life threatening as it causes excessive bleeding and shock.

Uterine Rupture

This is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the uterine wall is breached. This condition can occur during or before labor. In regards to medical malpractice, this can be caused by a doctor pushing excessively on the stomach. This is sometimes done as a way to assist delivery. It can also be caused by the improper use of pitocin, which is a drug commonly prescribed to assist the body during the labor process.

Placental Abruption

This potentially dangerous situation is a result of the placenta separating from the wall of the uterus prematurely. This separation, in turn, causes bleeding between the placenta and the uterine wall. This condition can occur at any point during the pregnancy, but occurs 50% of the time between 30 weeks gestation and labor, and in 15% of cases, it happens during labor itself. Placenta abruption can be fatal for the baby and mother due to blood loss and renal or cardiac failure.

Postpartum Hemorrhage

This is most simply described as bleeding after childbirth. It can be caused by lacerations during a cesarean section or can be a result of natural events. Regardless of the cause; however, post childbirth bleeding should be addressed quickly to prevent excessive blood loss and/or death. Consequently, when the situation is not addressed by a doctor quickly enough, it can lead to a wrongful death case. The following are a few common post childbirth, life threatening conditions that can occur:

Preeclampsia And HELLP syndrome

This condition occurs when the mother has dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can result in maternal seizures, placental separation, and HELLP syndrome. HELLP syndrome is a specific type of preeclampsia that involves low platelets and elevated liver enzymes. The best treatment for preeclampsia is the delivery of the baby, but the condition itself has to be treated to prevent further complications.

Cardiac Arrest and Disease

Pregnancy can cause substantial changes in the way a woman’s body functions. This, of course, can include a woman’s cardiac function. A woman who already has an underlying heart issue is at an increased risk for this condition. As a result, a woman who has heart issues should be monitored closely during pregnancy and delivery.

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonar Embolism

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a scientific way to describe a blood clot, usually occurring in the thigh or leg. A pulmonary embolus is when the blood clot travels through the body to an artery in the lungs, which can block blood flow. The symptoms of this include chest pain and shortness of breath. Doctors can discover this condition with tests, and prompt treatment should then be given.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The living spouse of the deceased mother or her surviving children can file a wrongful death claim if the mother dies due to medical negligence.

Compensation for the Family

Admittedly, no amount of money or resources can possibly make up for the loss of a loved one.  However, there are many costs associated with the death of a loved one that can be covered. From the expenses associated with burial to the long term effects of losing the deceased’s income. The following are some specific examples of what can be covered:

  • Medical debts of the mother accrued between the point of negligence to death.
  • Loss of wages that would have been earned by the mother as mentioned above.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Compensation to provide for survivors that would have gone to beneficiaries, such as medical coverage, pensions or inheritance.
  • Compensation for the mental anguish and emotional pain and suffering of the beneficiaries, in addition to the loss of companionship for the survivors.

If you have lost a mother or spouse during childbirth or pregnancy due to the negligence of a medical professional, you could be entitled to some compensation. Contact experienced lawyer Ivan Diamond to find out more information about we can help you.