What Happens If I Get into a Car Accident While Pregnant?
Attorney Brian White | December 31, 2020 | Car Accidents
Auto accidents are always frightening and potentially dangerous. The hazards are even more pronounced for expectant mothers who have been involved in car accidents. Not only do they run the risk of injury for themselves, but their growing baby also faces risks from the collision.
Some recent studies have found that pregnant drivers are nearly twice as likely to be involved in car accidents, when compared to women who are not pregnant. Also, expectant mothers face an increased risk of injury with severe collisions. They are 42% more likely to require emergency room services following a crash.
If you have been involved in a car accident while pregnant, you may have the right to claim significant financial compensation. In the following post, we will discuss some of the possible outcomes and courses of action for expectant women who have been in automobile accidents.
Possible Pregnancy Injuries from a Car Crash
There are many injuries that pregnant women have the potential to suffer from a collision. Unfortunately, car accidents are incredibly dangerous for both the expectant woman and her growing fetus.
Some of the most common car accident pregnancy injuries include the following:
Preterm birth, or “premature” birth, happens when an infant is born at fewer than 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature birth affects nearly one in ten babies in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Mothers who are involved in car accidents face an increased risk of preterm birth. This dangerous condition can cause long-term disabilities or even death for the fetus. In some cases, physicians can prevent premature labor through the use of medications, so seeking emergency medical care is crucial.
When a pregnancy requires especially close observation and monitoring, that pregnancy is labeled “high risk.” In most cases, high-risk pregnancies are caused by one or more pre-existing medical conditions of the pregnant woman.
However, any trauma or injuries sustained in a car accident can cause a pregnancy to become high-risk. This type of pregnancy is incredibly stressful for the expectant mother. High-risk pregnancies can result in increased medical costs, as will be discussed below.
A placental abruption is a very serious condition that can be highly dangerous for the developing fetus. This occurs when the placenta totally or partially separates from the mother’s uterus before the birth event.
Unfortunately, placental abruption greatly increases the potential of fetal mortality. Any abdominal trauma or impact suffered by the mother during the collision can cause placental abruption.
The injuries listed here are not mutually exclusive. When a placental abruption occurs, it can lead to a high-risk pregnancy, birth injuries, or other complications. This increases the financial burden of the mother after a car accident.
During pregnancy, the uterus is enlarged. This makes it more vulnerable to potential damage caused by an automobile accident. Any abdominal injuries suffered from a collision can be life-threatening to both the pregnant woman and the fetus.
When a uterine rupture occurs, the fetal mortality rate is nearly 100 percent. The mortality rate for mothers who suffer a uterine rupture is approximately 10 percent. Abdominal injuries are one of the most serious risks for pregnant women injured in car accidents.
A developing fetus is surrounded and protected by amniotic fluid. Because of this, the risk of miscarriage is relatively low unless the mother experiences extreme abdominal trauma.
If the mother’s stomach and uterus is severely wounded, miscarriage is a possible outcome. As was mentioned above, uterine rupture is usually fatal for the developing fetus.
A study published by the Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine found that between 1,500 and 5,000 fetal deaths occur each year as the result of car accidents in the United States.
No matter the type of injury, pregnant women who have been involved in a vehicular collision should seek immediate medical attention. Also, it is important to speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer to pursue the financial recovery that you are rightfully owed.
Safety Tips for Pregnant Women Travelling by Car
Because of the increased risks for pregnant women, travelling safely is very important. Obviously, seatbelts are the most effective safety measure for all automobile travel. They are particularly important for expectant mothers.
Follow these seatbelt safety tips when travelling:
- Use a seatbelt that has both a lap belt and a shoulder strap
- The lap belt should never go across your stomach
- Place the lap belt under your stomach and across your upper thighs
- The shoulder strap should be positioned across the center of your chest, securing you to the seat comfortably
- Ensure that there is at least a ten-inch distance between your body and the dashboard or steering wheel
Some people wonder if seatbelts are safe for use by pregnant women. Not only are they safe, but they are also the most important safety measure when driving or riding in a car.
Increased Financial Costs from Pregnancy Injuries
While all car accident injuries result in financial expenses for the victim, those costs are usually higher when the victim is pregnant. Some of the particular costs for an expectant mother injured in a collision include:
- Extra medical care and observation of the fetus immediately after the crash.
- Continuing medical expenses as the result of a “high-risk” pregnancy.
- Necessary hospitalization following the accident and resulting lost wages.
- Costs associated with early delivery–including neonatal care.
- The long-term financial burden of birth defects or permanent disabilities for the infant.
Because the costs associated with pregnancy injuries are typically higher than other injuries, you may be owed a higher level of compensation.
Speak with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
After seeking the appropriate medical care, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer. Never provide unnecessary details of the accident to the insurance provider before obtaining legal representation.
While nothing can undo the damage from a vehicular collision, a skilled attorney will help you to determine the best course of action in your case. You should not have to face the financial burdens of an accident on your own.