It’s a fear that no expectant mother wants to face – being in a car accident while pregnant. Unfortunately, car accidents are a reality for many pregnant women, and the experience can be frightening and traumatic. Knowing what to do before tragedy strikes can make a huge impact on your ability to heal both mentally and financially. This guide will explain some common issues that arise for pregnant car accident victims and how to proceed with legal action.
Common Injuries Resulting from a Car Accident While Pregnant
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact number of car accidents involving pregnant women yearly, but some research estimates the total can reach up to 200,000. That’s an alarming statistic considering how trauma can affect both the mother and her unborn child. The following are a few of the most frequently reported major injuries.
A uterine rupture is a severe complication in which the uterus tears or breaks open. This creates a danger to the fetus, which cannot receive oxygen, and the mother, who is at risk of internal bleeding.
Placenta is a temporary organ the body develops during pregnancy that attaches to the uterine lining. This organ delivers oxygen and nutrients to the fetus through the umbilical cord. An abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before birth. Disrupting this critical organ can be life-threatening to the mother and fetus.
As a result of trauma, an expectant mother’s body may go into hypovolemic shock. This happens due to great blood loss, and the body compensates by reserving any available blood for the mother’s essential organs. Unfortunately, the mortality rate for the fetus in these cases is over 80%.
Direct Fetal Trauma
Fortunately, this form of injury is very uncommon. The mother and her womb generally provide enough protection to shield a fetus from impact. When direct trauma to the fetus does occur, it usually results from an impact on the steering wheel, seat belt, or airbags.
These are only a few severe consequences possible after a car accident while pregnant. Therefore, a pregnant woman must get immediate medical care no matter how traumatic the crash was. Anyone needs medical attention after a collision because you may have internal injuries, and this is doubly important during pregnancy.
What To Do After a Car Accident
The moments after an accident are stressful, painful, and confusing. Having a plan in mind in emergencies can help reduce the difficult emotions of the situation.
- Ensure your safety and that of others. If you can, move your car from the road to avoid more collisions with traffic going by.
- Call the police. A negligent driver may offer you direct payment to avoid calling the authorities. You should never accept this. Contacting the police not only serves you in that you can make an official report, but they will also send emergency services to your location. The police report you file can be crucial evidence during your lawsuit.
- Exchange information with the other parties, even witnesses. This stage is about gathering as much information as you can. Collect contact information from other parties in the involved vehicles and anyone who witnessed the accident.
- Take notes. Take photos, messages, videos, and audio recordings. The more details you can take from the scene, the better.
- Do not speak to insurance agents at the scene. Insurance adjusters sometimes respond to accident scenes by asking questions. Once insurers start their investigation, they attempt to mitigate their risk of paying out. You are not required to speak to any insurer (including yours) at the scene.
- Report the accident. After leaving the scene and getting medical attention, you should report the accident to your insurer and that of the at-fault driver. Make a brief statement that includes the time, date, location of the crash, location of damages, and basic injury details. Keep the information to a minimum at that point.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A professional accident lawyer can fully explain your rights and options for settlement. The insurance company’s primary goal is to give you a low offer. However, those offers are nowhere near enough to make you whole.
- Continue maintaining a record of life after the accident. List your out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. Not only medical appointments and treatments but the rental car you have to use. Another example is paying for a house cleaning service if you are physically unable due to your injuries.
Damages for a Car Accident While Pregnant
Personal injury attorneys work to find any possible compensation for you after an accident. Many people are unaware that the damages available to them go far beyond what the insurer will offer initially.
Injuries sustained in any car accident can result in a hefty series of medical bills. This is complicated by pregnancy, as the expecting mother will likely have to visit an obstetrician and seek her treatment. Luckily, medical damages can cover a range of services, including:
- Emergency transportation (such as an ambulance)
- Hospital stays.
- Specialist Visits
- Diagnostic Tests
- Ongoing care due to injuries sustained in the accident.
- In-home care
- Medical equipment
An accident victim faces physical and emotional challenges after the accident. You may pursue damages such as lost commissions, wages, and bonuses if you cannot work. In some cases, your attorney will pursue future lost wages. They will do this by proving that the injuries from the crash have permanently altered the way you work.
This includes the necessary work to fix the car, but insurance does not always cover the cost of a rental car in the meantime. An attorney can help expand your rights under this statute.
Pain and Suffering
These damages compensate victims for their emotional distress and long-term trauma. These are non-economic results of an accident but sometimes put a life-long burden on victims.
While uncommon, punitive damages are assessed to punish the defendant rather than repay a victim. However, it’s important to note that the victim must prove the offender’s intent or willful misconduct to qualify for this category.
What You Can Do
The best recommendation for protecting your unborn child from vehicle accidents is to avoid driving as much as possible. Of course, this is easier said than done, as Americans rely on cars daily. Remembering to buckle your seat belt can make a big difference when you cannot avoid driving. The seat belt could indeed cause harm to the fetus in extreme cases, but it’s more likely that buckling up will have a positive impact.
Getting Help After a Car Accident While Pregnant
Being in a car accident while pregnant can be a traumatic experience, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Seeking medical attention, documenting the accident, and getting help for any emotional distress can help to make the experience a little less stressful.
If we are able to help, your attorney will guide you through the process of filing a claim, reaching a settlement or in some cases, even going to trial. You can contact our lead personal injury attorney Shawn Howard by calling our office at (919) 526-0450 or submit an email request through our contact page.