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Pregnancy and Car Accidents



Most car accidents are scary and come with potential serious consequences. Add pregnancy into the mix and all these concerns are heightened.

Pregnant women (and their unborn children) are uniquely at risk in a car crash, and as such deserve special attention in the aftermath.

In this article, we'll discuss pregnant car accidents from the perspective of health, what to do, and compensation -- leaving you better prepared if you find yourself in this situation. We'll cover ….

What Are The Risks of Car Accidents For Pregnant Women?
What Should you do Immediately After an Accident?
Compensation for Accidents Involving Pregnancy
Driving Tips for Pregnant Women

Let's get started….

What Are The Risks of Car Accidents For Pregnant Women?

You don't need to be a medical expert to understand that pregnancy carries with it higher risk levels. When another life enters the equation the stakes go up.

Although the womb and its amniotic fluid provide some buffer for babies, there are a number of things that can happen as a result. Primary among them is something called a “placental abruption”, which, according to BabyCenter is as follows [1]

A sudden impact or a slamming on of the brakes — even if the resulting jolt is not severe — can potentially separate the placenta from the uterus. This “abruption” can lead to serious situations such as hemorrhage, miscarriage, or premature delivery.

Some other common risk factors are:

  • internal bleeding
  • increased odds of a high-risk birth
  • birth defects
  • increased stress or anxiety.

The emotional fallout from an accident can have a big effect on a pregnancy and it's one that is hard to pin down.

These are some of the most common added risk factors, and it's not to mention all the ways the mother can be injured herself. Pregnant women may not be able to participate in physical therapy or take certain drugs after an accident thus slowing or impairing their recovery.

What Should You do Immediately After an Accident?

An accident is an accident whether there is a pregnant woman involved or not. You'll want to follow all standard best practices for post-accident safety. These include

  • Navigate your vehicle out of traffic if possible.
  • Check for injuries to yourself and others.
  • Call 911 if emergency health responders or police are needed.
  • Talk with the other driver, exchange information, don't discuss fault.

Beyond these basic steps, pregnant women will want to be vigilant for pain in the stomach area, blood or fluid loss from the genital area and loss of consciousness. All of these likely warrants a visit to the emergency room. At the ER you'll receive a thorough obstetric exam and ultrasound to check on the fetus and placenta.

Even if you don't have any apparent injuries it's good to get a checkup after any accident. Erring on the side of caution is smart in this scenario.

Some additional symptoms pregnant women should be on the lookout for:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Swelling in your face or hands
  • Ongoing headaches
  • Pain in your abdomen or upper back
  • Chills or a fever
  • Vomiting (not attributed to morning sickness)
  • Any obvious change in the baby's movements
  • Faintness or dizziness

Compensation for Accidents Involving Pregnancy

While the health of you and your unborn baby are by far the most important thing to think about, you'll also want to consider the compensation for your accident.

One of the main factors that affects the value of your car accident settlement is the potential long term side effects. In the case of a pregnant car accident these side effects can include:

  • Suffering a miscarriage
  • Having a premature birth
  • Undergoing a cesarean section
  • Birth defects
  • Severe hemorrhaging
  • Painful emotional stress

These consequences can impact the mother, the unborn child, and the entire family.

It's generally advisable to see how a pregnancy plays out before settling with an insurance company. This allows for the full extent of damages to become clear and can help account for things such as lost wages, or pain and suffering.

You may even want to enlist the help of a friend or family member to deal with the claim so you don't add stress to your life.

Be aware that the other party or their insurance company may try to claim that your pregnancy is a “pre-existing condition” and therefore they should not pay for any related expenses.

On the flipside, juries and courts tend to view pregnant women sympathetically which is good news for the value of your claim. Consulting with an experienced attorney is generally a good idea as pregnancy adds a layer of complication most personal injury claims lack.

Settlement Example -- Ohio

Driver A (Female, 37 weeks pregnant) was involved in a multi-car accident where she was the middle car. As a result of the impact she went into early labor. She gave birth seven weeks early and her son needed stay in the hospital for six weeks. Driver A retained an attorney and was compensated $95,000 to cover her and her son's medical costs.

Driving Tips for Pregnant Women

Here are a few ways you can protect yourself if you're pregnant and have to drive often.

  1. Resist the urge to misuse a seat belt. It may be more comfortable to sling the shoulder strap behind you, don't, make sure the three-point belt is properly used. Consistent seatbelt use is advocated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for the duration of a pregnancy [2].

  2. Put as much space as you comfortably can between your abdomen and the steering wheel. Adjusting the wheel or your seat can be the difference between minor and major injury to a fetus.

  3. If you're driving long distances, takes frequent breaks and stay rested. There are a number of products such a pedal extenders and neck support that are designed for pregnant women. If you spend a lot of time behind the wheel these may be a worthwhile investment.

Summary

Normal car accidents (and their consequences) are bad enough but adding pregnancy to the equation can make them all the more complicated and/or tragic. In many cases, to get your claim properly compensated you'll need legal assistance but there are some basics to keep in mind nonetheless.

  • The added risks of car accidents for pregnant women are numerous. Primary among them are placental abruption, internal bleeding, hemorrhage, miscarriage, premature delivery, pregnancy complications, and increased stress.

  • After an accident, basic common sense should be followed, but for pregnant women, there also needs to be an awareness of pain in the stomach area, blood or fluid loss from the abdomen and/or loss of consciousness. Any of these should lead to a quick 911 call.

  • Car accident claims involving a pregnancy are tricky. They should not be resolved before a pregnancy is finished, they can easily get disputed, and often require legal counsel to get a fair settlement.


Sources

1 - BabyCenter
2 - Centers for Disease Control


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