Infertility can be a shocking side effect of many types of personal injury. Whether as a consequence of direct physical injury, or due to necessary courses of treatment, infertility may be a significant contributing factor in a person’s post-injury recovery. Someone who was planning to have children and no longer can, or who must now go through expensive fertility treatments to do so, may have the option of adding those issues to a list of demands in litigation.
Infertility as a form of damages
In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured plaintiff demands compensation for the damages associated with the injury that can be attributed to the defendant’s bad behavior. Plaintiffs typically base their claims on a range of well understood things like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. A lawsuit may also seek recovery for so-called noneconomic damages, like a plaintiff’s suffering. Infertility can be a factor in both types of damages.
This is because infertility can have elements that are relatively easy or relatively difficult to quantify. On the one hand are cases where an injury forces the plaintiff to undergo expensive fertility treatments or psychological therapy to overcome emotional trauma specifically stemming from loss of fertility. The costs of such treatments have clear sources. On the other hand, the plaintiff’s emotional suffering may have an abstract dimension as well. The costs of losing the ability to have a child can in many ways be more abstract than concrete.
The problems of proof
To receive compensation for any type of damages a plaintiff in a personal injury case must be able to prove the damages with reasonable certainty. Infertility is an example of an injury that raises challenges of proof for a plaintiff. There are several reasons why this can be so, including these:
- Causation. A plaintiff’s fertility problems may have more than one cause. In cases where a clear line can’t be drawn between the plaintiff’s infertility and the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff will need additional resources, such as the testimony of a medical expert. Likewise, a defendant likely will try to raise doubts about whether the plaintiff has proven the case, for example by asking for evidence that the plaintiff had no fertility problems prior to the injury.
- Emotional harm is harder to prove. For plaintiffs who seek damages for suffering of any kind, issues of proof can raise extra challenges. Infertility may raise especially difficult questions, as plaintiffs may need to “prove” their interest in having children and how infertility has affected them. A plaintiff’s attorney can take steps to protect the client from overzealous defense lawyers, but ultimately the client will need to decide whether pursuing these sorts of damages is worth the emotional cost.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and auto accident litigation. We are proud of our firm’s long history of providing clients with complete, personal service. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.