What is the law in Connecticut about miscarriage after a car accident?
Last week I was driving on I-84 when traffic suddenly came to a crawl. Emergency vehicles sped past, and I was shocked to see a visibly pregnant woman lying on the side of the road beside her broken vehicle, clutching her stomach.
As a father, getting into a car accident with my pregnant wife numbered among my worst nightmares during her pregnancy. I know the pain a miscarriage can cause all to well. It is awful.
My sincere hope is that this woman and her baby are both fine and thriving, but it got me thinking:
What happens if a car accident causes a miscarriage in Connecticut?
Car accidents can cause miscarriages.
Some very old Connecticut cases do not award damages for the wrongful death of a fetus.
There is a case that dates back to 1939 (Sullivan v. Connecticut Company, 7 Conn. Supp. 35) in which a trolley in New Haven came to an abrupt stop, causing a woman who was two months pregnant to miscarry. The trolley company was found liable for her damages, but only to the extent of the injuries she had personally suffered. For example, the court noted that the plaintiff had been confined to the hospital for ten days, suffered pain and discomfort, and incurred medical expenses. Even though the court found that the plaintiff had indeed lost her pregnancy as a result of the defendant’s driver’s negligence, she was not awarded damages for a wrongful death.
In another case from the 1930’s, a woman alleged that the defendant had negligently served her a sandwich that contained glass. She suffered emotional distress that she claimed ultimately resulted in a miscarriage. Gannon v. S.S. Kresge Co., 114 Conn. 36 (1931). Again, the plaintiff was awarded damages for her emotional and physical suffering, but apparently not for the wrongful death of her child.
But both law and science have come a long ways in the past century. And we know things through ultrasounds and monitoring about fetuses that the courts in Sullivan and Gannon could not have imagined.
Does a miscarriage after a car accident amount to a wrongful death?
Flash forward to 2011, when a doctor in Stamford was sued for the wrongful death of a 22-week old fetus. The doctor was accused of negligently rupturing fetal membranes while removing an intrauterine device. This case was pretty big news because Connecticut has not considered whether someone can be found liable for the wrongful death of a fetus.
Unfortunately the case settled, which means that this is still an open question.
So if someone is injured in Connecticut and suffers a miscarriage as a result, can that person recover for the wrongful death of the fetus?
These kinds of cases are complicated. A plaintiff would have to prove that the fetus was viable and would have survived. This would involve the testimony of multiple experts.
It is our belief as a firm in the dignity of life. And that wrongdoers should be held accountable for their actions. And if a car accident causes a miscarriage in Connecticut that the defendant should be civilly liable for wrongful death.
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