For expectant mothers, being in a car accident is a scary thing to consider. In addition to the injuries the mother can sustain, the growing baby can sustain a variety of injuries. Auto accidents are the leading cause of fetal mortality and serious maternal injury, affecting approximately 93,000 women each year.
If you are in a car accident while pregnant, see your doctor right away. If the accident is serious, you should be taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure for the unborn baby.
Pregnant women who are involved in car accidents may face more serious damages and expenses than other injured people. This is due to the increased cost of monitoring, required doctor’s visits, and, potentially, the need to treat your baby for any injuries stemming from the accident. If you are pregnant, and you suffer injuries in a collision, your potential compensation is likely to be higher than if you were not expecting. Oftentimes, this is information that the insurance company will try their best to keep to themselves.
- Miscarriage The baby is very well protected in its amniotic fluid, so unless the stomach and uterus is punctured, or the woman undergoes a period of cardiac arrest, without breathing, the baby should survive. A miscarriage is rare in the case of most accidents, but you should still get checked.
- Premature Birth Each year, preterm birth affects nearly 500,000 babies (that’s 1 of every 8 infants born in the United States). Preterm birth is the birth of an infant prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. A car accident can cause premature birth because of the stress put on the mother’s body during and after the accident.
- Birth Defects Direct injuries to the fetus or the baby being born prematurely as the result of a car accident can cause birth defects. Injured and premature babies do not always develop serious disabilities. The earlier a baby is born and the more severe the injuries; the higher the risk for disabilities.
- High-risk Pregnancy Pregnancies are labeled “high-risk” when there are complications with either the mother or the baby that need careful monitoring and observation. Many times, high-risk pregnancies are labeled as such because of a pre-existing medical condition of the mother. However, a high-risk pregnancy can develop after the mother incurs health problems due to a car accident.
- Coup and Contrecoup Injuries When a moving object impacts the head while stationary, a Coup injury can occur, while Contrecoup injuries are produced when the moving head strikes a stationary object. These injuries often happen during car accidents. The mother is more likely to be affected by Coup and Contrecoup injuries, but her unborn child can also be injured. In the case of an unborn baby, this type of injury is commonly referred to as “shaken baby syndrome.”
- Placental Abruption A placental abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta partially or completely separates from your uterus before your baby is born. Placental abruption happens in about one in 150 pregnancies. Abdominal trauma sustained during a car accident increases a mother’s chances of placental abruption.
- Fetal Trauma 82% of fetal deaths are caused by car accidents. Injuries to the baby’s body and or brain can have long-term, life-threatening results. Fetal trauma can result during a car accident from a blow to the mother’s abdomen, a lack of oxygen if the mother is in distress, and other infections and injuries.
How to Prevent Pregnancy Injuries Resulting From Car Accidents:
Driving may become more uncomfortable as you progress in your pregnancy, but there is no reason you can’t use a car while pregnant. As long as you can fit behind the wheel comfortably, feel free to drive unless otherwise advised by your doctor. Use these tips to stay safe while driving:
- Follow the rules of the road. You are protecting your unborn child. Many accidents are caused by failing to obey traffic laws and not leaving enough space between your vehicle and others.
- Make sure you are comfortable in the car. You do not want to be distracted while driving because you are thinking about your discomfort. Plan your route accordingly, and make sure you have enough time to stop if needed.
- Always wear your seatbelt. It is a common misconception that a seatbelt could cause harm to your baby if you have to brake quickly or are involved in an accident. However, a 3-point seatbelt is made to hold your body in place by the boney areas of your body. Placing the seatbelt in the correct spot across your chest (over your bump) and across your pelvis (under your bump) will have no negative impact on the baby, protecting you both in case of an accident.
- Make sure your airbags are working. A myth regarding pregnant driving is that an airbag will hurt your baby. This is untrue. As long as you are wearing the seatbelt properly, the airbag will spread out the force of the crash for the both of you. If you continue to worry that the airbag is too close to your bump, adjust your steering wheel so that the majority of the airbag will spread out over your chest and face (as long as you can still drive safely).
Only an experienced, well-qualified attorney can help you protect your rights in this situation. If you were involved in a car accident while pregnant, call 206-285-1743 for immediate help.