The law uses DNA testing in a variety of ways. In family law, litigants normally use it to establish paternity. The consequences of a DNA test, then, can be dramatic and permanent. 

It is disturbing to note that DNA tests are sometimes inaccurate. If you uncover inaccurate DNA testing and you can trace the error to the paternity testing firm, you can file a claim against them.

The Accuracy of DNA Tests

DNA tests can utilize cheek swabs or blood tests. Either way, at a reputable lab, they are 99.9% effective in determining paternity. Of course, 99.9% is not 100%. If you fall within the 0.1%, it might not be anybody’s fault. 

Instead, fault might lie in the inherent weaknesses of the testing method. Don’t assume this is the culprit, however–a false DNA test is probably the result of avoidable error.

Reasons for DNA Testing Errors

There are many ways that a DNA test might go wrong. The following are some of the most common:

  • Sample contamination;
  • Mistakes during sample collection, handling, labeling, processing, or analysis;
  • Technical limitations (not anyone’s fault);
  • Testing kit errors;
  • Flaws in the overall testing procedure;
  • Misinterpretation of test results;
  • Chimerism (a rare genetic condition that occurs when one person has two or more different sets of DNA);
  • Identical twins (standard DNA tests cannot distinguish between DNA from identical twins);
  • Chain of custody issues; or
  • Fraud (intentional planting of DNA samples, for example).

This is not a complete list of possible errors or misconduct. 

The Consequences of Inaccurate DNA Testing

Inaccurate DNA testing in family law cases can have devastating legal, emotional, and social consequences, including:

  • Incorrect determination of paternity, with impact on child custody, child support, visitation rights, and inheritance.
  • Emotional trauma and false accusations of infidelity.
  • Complex legal battles to overturn previous decisions.
  • Impact on the child’s best interests.
  • Social stigma, reputation damage, and relationship strain.
  • Impact on inheritance rights.
  • Adoption disputes.

In many cases, the damage cannot be undone even if the error is later corrected.

Filing a Negligence Claim Against the Paternity Testing Firm

As stated above, a faulty DNA test might be the result of the inherent limitations. If you can identify an error, however, you might be able to win a lawsuit against the paternity testing firm. To win a negligence lawsuit against the testing firm, you need to prove:

  • The testing firm owed you a duty of care. This is likely satisfied since you paid them (or a court-ordered them) to perform paternity testing.
  • The firm breached its duty of care. Ideally, you should be able to point to a specific error—sample contamination, for example. If not, you can always try to win your claim using res ipsa loquitur. 
  • You suffered harm (see above). It’s perfectly fine if your main injury is emotional distress, although you can also claim reimbursement for any financial losses. Either way, you are entitled to compensation if you win.
  • The defendant’s negligence caused the harm you suffered.
  • The harm you suffered was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligence.

Proving the foregoing is enough to prove liability. If you prove intentional misconduct, such as fraud, instead of mere negligence, you might even be able to win punitive damages.   

Re-Litigating Your Case

If you have lost custody of your child, or suffered some other unjust legal consequence, because of a false DNA test result, you’re going to be wanting more than just financial compensation. You’re going to want the wrong that was done to you undone. 

The right family lawyer can work with the legal system to undo the harm that was done to you and your child – or at least see to it that a previous injustice does not continue. 

Contact a Family Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Faulty DNA testing could get you saddled with child support payments for a child who is not yours. It could also cause a court to deny you parental rights, and any form of custody, over a child who belongs to you. Whatever the harm you suffered, you’re likely going to need a lawyer to represent your interests.

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.