Stillbirth Lawsuit

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Terry Crouppen who has more than 40 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.

This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Terry Crouppen who has more than 40 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.

Key Takeaways

  • Stillbirth is medically defined as fetal death occurring after 20 weeks of pregnancy either before or during labor and delivery.
  • Forms of medical malpractice that can lead to stillbirth include failure to notice and treat complications during pregnancy, negligence in prenatal care, and mismanagement of labor and delivery.
  • A stillbirth lawsuit can help families hold medical professionals or institutions accountable for negligence, as well as raise awareness about preventable factors contributing to stillbirth.
  • Proving the standard of care in medical malpractice stillbirth cases can be challenging due to the specialized nature of medical procedures, evolving medical standards, the complexity of establishing causation, and the need for expert testimony to interpret medical practices and demonstrate deviations from accepted norms.
  • It is important to hire a lawyer in a stillbirth lawsuit to navigate complex legal procedures, gather and present evidence effectively, and advocate for the rights and interests of the surviving family.

Parents undergo extraordinary emotional anguish when dealing with the tragic loss of a baby in a stillbirth. At Brown & Crouppen, we understand the devastating impact losing a child can have. If you find yourself handling this unimaginably painful situation, our hearts go out to you. We are here to provide compassionate support and expert legal representation to you and your family. 

Let our birth injury lawyers handle your stillbirth lawsuit, advocate for your rights, and secure justice on behalf of your baby. With over 40 years of experience helping families throughout Missouri, our full-service personal injury law firm has what it takes to fight for justice and accountability on your behalf. Call (800) 536-4357 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation today. 

How Our Birth Injury Lawyers at Brown & Crouppen Help

The emotional and mental stress after a stillbirth can take an enormous toll on you and your loved ones. While you focus on caring for your grieving family, you need a legal team you can count on to deliver the high-quality counsel and representation you deserve. 

Our award-winning attorneys have been widely recognized for their professionalism and service. We have even been named the Best Law Firm in St. Louis by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Among other things, when you entrust us with your case, you can count on us to: 

  • Evaluate your case to determine the responsible parties and whether you have a viable claim.
  • Explain the governing law and your legal options so you can make informed decisions.
  • Gather all available evidence, such as medical records and witness statements, to build a strong stillbirth legal claim.
  • Gather expert testimony to support your claim.
  • File your birth injury claim and other legal documents before important deadlines pass.
  • Negotiate a full and fair stillbirth settlement with the at-fault parties and their insurers.
  • Aggressively defend your right to justice, accountability, and compensation if a fair settlement cannot be reached. 

We are ready to serve you from our law offices in St. Louis, Kansas City, and throughout Missouri. In the words of founding partner Terry Crouppen,  “We focus not on big cases, not on little cases, but on people because we need to do the best job we can for everyone.” 

As attorneys, we are also members of a service-oriented profession. Accordingly, in addition to providing excellent legal representation to our clients, we also believe in giving back to the community we serve. We do so by volunteering with and donating to numerous charitable causes and organizations.  

What Is a Stillbirth?

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, there were roughly 5.73 fetal deaths per 1000 births nationwide in 2021. One study reports that approximately a quarter of stillbirths are preventable. Fortunately, advances in medical care and prenatal monitoring have helped reduce the risk of stillbirths over the decades. 

Stillbirths are medically defined as the death of a child after 20 weeks of pregnancy either before or during labor and delivery. By contrast, miscarriages are defined as fetal death before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirths are sometimes categorized by the stage of pregnancy in which they occur: 

Early Term

The death of an unborn child between 20–27 weeks of pregnancy.

Late Term

The death of an unborn child between 28–36 weeks of pregnancy.


The death of an unborn child after 37 or more weeks of pregnancy, including during labor and delivery. 

What Can Cause a Stillbirth?

A wide range of factors can contribute to stillbirth. They include: 

  • Placental Problems – Issues with the placenta, such as placental abruption (where the placenta separates from the uterine wall prematurely) or placental insufficiency (where the placenta cannot provide enough oxygen and nutrients to the fetus), can lead to stillbirth.
  • Fetal Growth Restriction – In some cases, the baby may not grow properly in the womb due to factors such as poor maternal nutrition, genetic abnormalities, and biological deficiencies in the womb, leading to stillbirth.
  • Maternal Health Conditions – Certain maternal health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure (preeclampsia), infections (such as cytomegalovirus or listeriosis), thyroid disorders, or blood clotting disorders, can increase the risk of stillbirth.
  • Genetic Factors – Chromosomal abnormalities or genetic disorders in the fetus can lead to stillbirth.
  • Umbilical Cord Complications – Issues with the umbilical cord, such as cord compression or cord prolapse, can interfere with the baby’s oxygen supply and result in stillbirth. Although uncommon, marginal cord insertion can also poses a danger to the loss of pregnancy after 20 weeks or stillbirth.
  • Infections – Infections during pregnancy, such as bacterial infections (e.g., Group B streptococcus), viral infections (e.g., cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, or Zika virus), or parasitic infections (e.g., toxoplasmosis), can increase the risk of stillbirth.
  • Trauma – Trauma or injury to the mother (e.g., car accidents, physical assault) can sometimes lead to stillbirth.
  • Multiple Pregnancies – Pregnancy with multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc.) can increase the risk of stillbirth, especially if there are complications such as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.
  • Lifestyle Factors – Certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drug use, or excessive alcohol consumption, increase the risk of stillbirth.

Can I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Yes. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a physician or other healthcare provider was medically negligent, thereby causing the stillbirth. Specifically, the governing statute in Missouri requires medical malpractice plaintiffs to show that:

“[The] healthcare provider failed to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful healthcare provider would have under similar circumstances and . . . failure to use such reasonable care directly caused or directly contributed to cause the damages claimed in the petition.”

Proving the standard of care in medical malpractice cases can be challenging due to the complexity of medical procedures, differing opinions among medical professionals, evolving medical standards, difficulty in establishing causation, and the need for expert testimony to interpret medical practices and demonstrate deviations from accepted norms. That is why you need a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney fighting in your corner. 

Medical Malpractice vs. Wrongful Death

Legally speaking, your medical malpractice claim in a stillbirth lawsuit will likely double as a wrongful death claim, which allows surviving family members to seek compensation for the untimely death of a loved one caused by the actions and omissions of another. 

The ability to bring a wrongful death lawsuit for a fetus varies depending on the jurisdiction. In some states, the ability to bring such a claim only exists after the baby reaches viability. Other states have laws that only recognize wrongful death claims for babies who were born alive and died subsequently. 

The Supreme Court of Missouri addressed this issue in Connor v. Monkem Company, Inc., 898 S.W.2d 89 (Mo. 1995). Recognizing that “the majority of other jurisdictions in America limit recovery to viable unborn children,” the Court chose a different direction for Missouri, holding that “a wrongful death claim may be stated for a nonviable unborn child.” This holding resonates with the following language codified in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 1.205

  1. The life of each human being begins at conception.
  2. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.
  3. The natural parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child. 

How To Prove Medical Negligence in a Stillbirth Lawsuit

In a medical malpractice stillbirth lawsuit, gathering strong evidence is crucial for building a solid case. Evidence that may come into play includes:

  • Medical Records – Comprehensive medical records from prenatal care, labor, and delivery are essential. These records may include ultrasound reports, prenatal test results, fetal monitoring records, labor progression notes, and delivery reports. They lend insight into the medical care provided and any deviations from the standard of care.
  • Expert Medical Opinions – Expert testimony from qualified medical professionals, such as obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, and other relevant experts, is crucial. They can review your medical records, assess the care provided, and offer authoritative opinions on whether substandard care contributed to the stillbirth.
  • Witness Testimony – Statements from witnesses who were present during prenatal appointments, labor, or delivery can provide additional perspectives on the events leading up to the stillbirth. This may include testimony from nurses, midwives, other healthcare providers, or family members who were present during the pregnancy and birth.
  • Fetal Monitoring Data – Fetal monitoring strips and other documentation of fetal heart rate patterns during labor can be important evidence. Changes in fetal heart rate patterns may indicate fetal distress and the need for medical intervention. Reviewing these records can help determine whether appropriate actions were taken in response to signs of fetal distress.
  • Pathology Reports – Pathology reports from autopsies or examinations of the stillborn baby can provide valuable information about the cause of death and any underlying medical conditions or abnormalities. This information can help establish causation and determine whether medical negligence played a role in the stillbirth.
  • Communication Records – Records of communication between healthcare providers, including emails, notes, or electronic medical records, may reveal discussions about the patient’s condition, treatment decisions, or concerns raised during pregnancy and labor. These records can help establish whether appropriate communication and coordination of care occurred.
  • Hospital Policies and Protocols – Hospital policies and protocols related to obstetric care, fetal monitoring, emergency procedures, and response to complications may be relevant. Deviations from established protocols or failure to follow standard procedures could indicate negligence on the part of healthcare providers and institutions. 
  • Documentation of Damages – Documentation of the physical, emotional, and financial damages suffered by the parents as a result of the stillbirth is important. This may include medical bills, counseling records, evidence of emotional distress, and records of funeral expenses.

By compiling and presenting this evidence effectively, plaintiffs in a medical malpractice stillbirth case can strengthen their legal arguments and increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome. Working with experienced medical malpractice attorneys and knowledgeable experts is essential for identifying and presenting the most relevant evidence in support of your case. 

How Long Do I Have To File a Stillbirth Lawsuit in Missouri?

The medical malpractice statute of limitations in Missouri is two years from the date the malpractice occurred or could reasonably have been discovered. By contrast, the Missouri wrongful death statute of limitations is three years from the date of death. State law also requires medical malpractice victims to file an affidavit with the court within 90 days after filing a lawsuit showing that a qualified healthcare provider analyzed the merits of their claim. 

It’s crucial to speak with a stillbirth lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you have all the information and documents you need to get your case started on a strong footing. Our birth injury lawyers will evaluate the legal circumstances of your case and ensure no deadlines are missed. 

Contact Our Law Firm for a Free Consultation

If you and your family are handling the aftermath of a stillbirth caused by medical negligence, know that you do not have to go through this difficult time alone. Our compassionate birth injury lawyers are here to provide high-quality legal representation and compassionate support in your hour of need. 

At Brown & Crouppen, we believe everyone deserves access to the best legal representation possible. That’s why we offer free, no-obligation case reviews and take cases on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing unless we secure compensation on your behalf. We have offices in St. LouisKansas, and throughout Missouri. Call 800-536-4357 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free consultation today.


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