If it was proven that my ex-wife was drinking heavily while pregnant with our child who passed away, would there be any legal action that I could take?

My daughter passed away at 7 weeks late last year. After the fact, my wife was put into rehab for heavy drinking. After reviewing my bank statements, no less than 56 purchases were made at local liquor stores on our joint account during the time that she was pregnant. I am not sure how to proceed. I have already filed for divorce but I want to know if there is any other legal action I can take against her to pursue justice for my daughter?

Asked on July 23, 2012 under Personal Injury, Pennsylvania


Leigh Anne Timiney / Timiney Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter.  Yes, you can pursue a civil claim, but this would be very difficult and as Mr. Goldberg already answered, there may be no one to compensate you even if you were to prevail in a civil claim.  If you are sure your daughters passing was due directly to your wife's use of alcohol during the pregnancy, there could be possible criminal charges involved, such as child endangerment.  You must weight all of this heavily before you proceed with any type of action, civil or criminal.  

Andrew Goldberg

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Possbly, you have a civil action against your wife based in negligence. You would have to prove that, despite having been forewarned by her doctor or despite knowing that excessive drinking would harm the fetus, she negligently continued to excessively drink and that that was the cause of your daughter's death. The next question is probably more important to a lawyer. Did you, while married, reside in a home with liabilty coverage under  a ploicy of Homeowners Insurance and would that insurance policy cover this type of negligence. Probably not, but you'd have to read the policy language and language pertaining to both coverage and exclusions.

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