Mothers can be sued for injuring unborn children: Alberta bill
Alberta's justice minister says he will be introducing legislation allowing children injured in car accidents while still in the womb to sue their mothers.
It would mark the first such law in Canada, if passed by the legislature. Justice Minister Ron Stevens says the bill will be up for consideration at the end of November.
The action has sparked concerns by opposition parties and the insurance industry, fearing it might open the floodgates for mothers to be sued for anything they do while they are pregnant.
FROM APRIL 22, 2004: Special legislation for injuries received in womb, MLA
Stevens promises the legislation will be written narrowly to avoid too many cases going to court. Lawsuits will be limited to the amount of the mother's personal liability.
Dave Eggen, a New Democrat member of the legislature, accused the ruling Tories of appealing to the province's social conservatives by eroding the rights of women.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada says the province is passing the buck onto the industry, which will have to pay for the care of disabled children.
Jim Rivait, IBC's Alberta vice-president, warns the costs of litigation will be factored into insurance fees.
The legislation stems from a case involving a severely disabled three-year-old girl, Brooklyn Rewega. Her father Doug wants to sue his wife, Brooklyn's mother, in order to get money from the insurance company to cover the care of their daughter. The Rewegas are still married.
Lisa Rewega was pregnant and at the wheel on Dec. 31, 2000, when she lost control of her car and was pitched through the windshield. She gave birth four months later to Brooklyn, who was born blind with brain damage and cerebral palsy. She suffers up to 10 seizures a day.
A Supreme Court decision in 1999 ruled that children can't make claims against their mothers for events that hurt them in the womb. If anyone else but the mother had been driving, a claim could go ahead.
Rosanna Saccomani, the family's lawyer, says the Supreme Court left an opening that would allow a child to sue its mother if she were involved in a car accident.