What Is A Mother’s Misery Worth?


Personal injury attorneys, plaintiffs, juries and judges who are involved in stillbirth medical malpractice lawsuits, are now beginning to answer this difficult question in New York. When a mother gives birth to a stillborn, exactly how much is her pain worth?

In 2004, the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, changed state law and by allowing mothers to sue for emotional suffering when medical negligence caused their child to be stillborn. Prior to 2004, a mother could only sue if she sustained physical injury, in addition to the stillbirth.

Recently, two cases have addressed how much these mothers should receive. In Brooklyn, a court upheld a $1 million verdict after a mother lost her baby during delivery. The mother had complained of abdominal pain when she was 8 months pregnant, visited the doctor three times for such pain and was sent home with painkillers. She lost the baby after his head became stuck in her birth canal.

The second mother, in Bronx, NY, delivered a stillborn child after the hospital delayed the emergency caesarean section, despite the obvious fetal distress that was documented. However, this hospital has offered to settle for only $500,000.

These two cases are the first to pass through the New York legal system since the state law changed and will likely be determinative of how much a mother’s misery is worth. Other states with similar laws have awarded anywhere from $100,000-$1 million for mother’s emotional distress from a stillbirth.

But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.