Virginia Senate Passes Bill Allowing Mother to Sue for Death of Fetus

Posted on Nov 28, 2012

A new bill approved by the Virginia Senate allows a mother to sue for the wrongful death of her fetus. This bill allows parents to have a cause of action for the death of their fetus that was a result of a wrongful act or neglect.

While many states already allow parents to sue for the wrongful death of a fetus, Virginia is one of the few states that does not distinguish between a viable and a nonviable fetus. In Virginia, a lawsuit can be filed for both. However, the bill, which is a part of several abortion rights bills that went in front of the current legislative session, does not allow for a cause of action for lawful abortions performed in the state.

Only the natural mother can bring a lawsuit based on a wrongful act or neglect. If the natural mother is not available because of a death or disability, the estate can sue on her behalf. A lawsuit cannot be brought against the natural mother of the fetus.

The natural mother may bring a cause of action against the doctor for negligence or a refusal to follow accepted medical practices. Further, a lawsuit may be brought against the hospital if the inferior health and safety standards caused the death.

Prior to this law, a pregnant mother could sue for emotional distress if she lost her fetus. However, a wrongful death lawsuit could not be filed. The new bill allows for compensation due to medical malpractice, domestic abuse, or negligence.

If you have lost a loved one, we know this is a very difficult time. Call Shevlin Smith to speak with a Fairfax medical malpractice attorney at 703.591.0067 if you live in Virginia or Washington, D.C. We are here to help you.

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Michael J. Shevlin
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Specializing in medical malpractice and serious personal injury cases since 1994.