Infertility is usually defined as a condition in which a couple cannot conceive or carry a pregnancy through to completion. It can also include diseases that licensed physicians recognize as causing infertility conditions.
Fertility treatments generally refer to two general methods: administering drugs to make the couple more fertile or using such procedures as in vitro fertilization to allow conception and childbirth. The latter procedure can sometimes involve using a surrogate mother to carry the couple’s child, which they will adopt after birth.
Infertility treatments can also include other procedures such as diagnostic tests to confirm infertility, surgical procedures for assisting conception (such as removing a blockage), or transfers of organs or vital fluids.
Infertility treatments are “Assisted Reproductive Technology,” or ART.
As technology for infertility treatments expands, so does the scope of legal issues associated with fertility treatment laws.
Some of the more commonly encountered legal issues in connection with fertility treatment laws include:
- Personal Injury from Infertility Treatments: Assisted reproduction is not without its risks. There have been some reports of injuries during pregnancy or the child upon birth.
- Insurance issues: No federal laws make insurance coverage for infertility treatments mandatory. The question becomes whether state laws require ART insurance. Each state’s laws vary when it comes to insurance requirements.
- Disclosure of private information: Especially in cases involving adoption or surrogacy, the use of confidential information of donors and other participants have been widely contested. Disclosure laws usually prohibit the unauthorized release of client information.
- Wrongful birth: Fertility treatments have sometimes resulted in unwanted birth defects or births (for example, after the couple has already conceived the desired number of children).
- Denial of work benefits or wrongful termination: It is common for infertility treatments to require time off from work; this can present conflicts over employment terms.
Suppose you have received infertility treatments and are experiencing any of the above circumstances. In that case, you might have possible recourse in a court of law, depending on the severity of your case.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Fertility Treatments?
Various risks have been associated with fertility treatments.
These include dangers to the mother, such as:
- Multiple births: This is the most common risk associated with fertility treatments. Unplanned multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.) pose certain risks to the mother and the infants in some cases. It occurs in some cases involving embryo splitting where “twinning” intentionally desired
- Ectopic pregnancy: The egg implants in a place outside the normal site of the fallopian tube, such as in the ovary
- Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome: A cluster of eggs is stimulated to overgrowth due to fertility drugs
Risks to infants are generally not as common as those to the mother. These may include:
- Low birth weight
- Genetic disorders
- Premature birth
As with any newer form of technology, various risks and side effects may arise whenever a new technique or method of fertility treatment is introduced.
What Are Common Legal Issues Involving Fertility Treatments?
Taking off work for fertility treatments is a common legal issue. You can generally take off work for fertility treatments, although there are variances by state. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against women who take leave for pregnancy. This also includes time off for those who wish to become pregnant through Assisted Reproductive Technology treatments.
Employers may not deprive workers of benefits or their jobs for taking pregnancy leave for legitimate instances of pregnancy. These employment provisions are usually covered in federal employment laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Family, and Medical Leave Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In Vitro Fertilization is the fertilization of the egg outside the woman’s body. There are different IVF laws by state. The egg is fertilized by sperm and then inserted into the woman’s body, where the egg will grow into an infant, like a normal pregnancy.
In Virto Fertilization faces opposition from some religious groups, who sometimes allege that women who choose to use In Virto Fertilization are infertile or lesbians.
Although there are variances in IVF laws by state, the laws typically include accommodations for pregnancy-related medical procedures. Federal courts have recently held that an employer may not act against an employee who has an in vitro fertilization performed. The law also prevents an employer from firing an employee for having an abortion.
Laws may also cover discrimination based on these factors against sex discrimination. In some cases, age discrimination may also apply.
State discrimination laws can protect women in a homosexual relationship if they are in a state which provides such protection. Still, federal law currently excludes sexual orientation as a protected class.
What Can I Do to File a Legal Claim Involving a Fertility Treatment?
Fertility treatment lawsuits can involve many critical legal issues. For example, such a lawsuit might involve medical malpractice because a doctor violated health standards for IVF procedures. Or, one case might involve the negligent care of a nurse. In other words, many different parties could be held liable since a single fertility treatment can often affect the contributions of many different healthcare professionals.
In such lawsuits, the plaintiff might be able to recover a legal damages award. These can often involve substantial amounts, especially in cases involving severe injury or serious losses on the part of the plaintiff.
Fertility treatments are significant endeavors and require much planning and decision-making. You may wish to hire a personal injury lawyer if you have any legal questions or concerns about fertility treatments. Your attorney can provide you with legal representation if you need to file a lawsuit in the court system. Also, your attorney can give you advice on your rights and the possibility of obtaining a legal remedy for any losses.
What Compensation Can I Recover from Fertility Treatment Malpractice Lawsuit?
Injuries sustained from infertility treatments are usually traceable to two sources: first, the medical physician who rendered the treatments acted negligently, or the drugs or other medicines were defective products. In any event, liability for such injuries will usually be based on a negligence claim (either a form of medical malpractice or products liability).
To properly recover damages for infertility treatment injuries, you’d have to prove that the responsible party owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty, and that such duty caused measurable injury to you. In most ART cases, the difficulty lies in proving who caused your injuries. Several different professionals often work on an infertility case, and the treatment can involve many different overlapping drugs and technologies.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Fertility Treatment Lawsuit?
If you have been injured, be sure to keep all copies of records of treatments that you have undergone. This includes receipts and preferably a log of any medicine dosages. Include names, dates, and detailed accounts of any instances that may be questionable. You should also keep records if you have disputes with an employer or insurance company. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you sort all the information needed to file a claim.
Use LegalMatch to start resolving your legal issues with fertility treatments. There is no fee to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney in your area today.