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Representing Injured Workers Since 1955

Fetal workplace injury is often separate from Mother's

Typically, claims regarding injuries or illnesses incurred while on the job are related directly to the worker or, in the event of a death, the surviving family member. However, the unique case of an incident or exposure affecting the unborn child of a then-pregnant worker adds a new dimension to such claims. Babies of pregnant women working in California manufacturing facilities or warehouses with exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, or equipment that can cause injury, are themselves at risk every time their mothers go to work.

Injury or illness sustained by a working pregnant woman may often be covered under workers' compensation claims. In some instances, a minor child may be allowed to file a separate lawsuit against the mother's employer for damages from injury or illness that the child experienced as a result of being in utero at the time of the original incident. Courts may determine that an unborn child can incur injuries as an individual separate from his or her mother. 

In 2007, a child in California sued the employer of its mother; during pregnancy the mother breathed in toxic doses of carbon monoxide while at work, causing damage to herself and the child., The state Supreme Court stated that the child, who was directly injured by the carbon monoxide had the right to not only file a worker’s compensation claim but could also sue the employer for the injury.   

Suffering a workplace injury can be devastating, especially if it impacts an unborn child. When damage to an employee or to an in-utero child occurs as a result of employer negligence or workplace a, it may be wise to seek legal advice. An experienced attorney can communicate the rights of both the worker and the child and identify any appropriate actions that could or should be taken. 

Source: Property Casualty 360o, “In-utero injuries another risk exposure for employers,” David Thamann, May 14, 2013

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