The question of whether or not an unborn child or fetus is an individual who has rights is a fraught topic that has been up for debate recently across the country. While some states do not recognize fetuses of any state as individuals with rights, some only recognize viable unborn babies (babies that could potentially live outside the womb) as such. Still other states have decided that a baby is an individual at any time after conception.
The law in Texas regarding the wrongful death of a fetus has changed in a few key ways over the last two decades.
Before 1999, you could not sue for the wrongful death of your unborn baby. That changed when a couple sued for wrongful death following a Tarrant County car accident. In 1996, John and Dori Dean of Keller, Texas, lost their unborn baby in a car accident that they believed was caused by uncut grass obscuring their view of the road. The fetus was 36 weeks along when it died in the crash. The Texas Court of Appeals ruled that the baby was in fact a viable individual and allowed the couple to collect $300,000 in damages from Fort Worth and Tarrant County for the loss of their child.
In 2003, the Texas Wrongful Death Act was specifically amended to include that unborn babies are considered individuals with rights. However, there is one exception to the rule: Texas parents may not sue medical professionals for wrongful death.
As you can see, wrongful death law in Texas is complicated and ever changing. If you believe that the death of your unborn baby was caused by negligence, it is important that you speak with a Houston attorney that has knowledge and experience with these complex cases. Call us today and tell us your story.