Pregnancy and Car Accidents
Pregnancy can quickly develop into a list of concerns and precautions for maintaining an unborn child’s health and well-being. While there are many elements that expectant parents can control, unavoidable accidents such as vehicle collisions can create additional complications for both the mother and child.
What Are the Risks of A Car Accident While Pregnant?
Car accidents can cause serious injuries or even death to any driver, passenger, or pedestrian. The risk of loss of life increases drastically in the case of an expecting mother. While not all accidents may be severe, a fender bender can be enough to endanger a mother and her unborn child.
There are several potential injuries or occurrences that may result from a car accident.
When the placenta partially or entirely separates from a mother’s uterus before childbirth, it can result in serious medical challenges. Although uncommon, this can be a dangerous complication to any pregnancy and may lead to early delivery. As the placenta is a critical organ that exchanges oxygen and nutrients to an unborn child, any disruption of this lining can put the pregnancy at a higher risk. While it is possible to maintain a healthy and successful pregnancy after experiencing placental abruption, the mother and child must be monitored closely following an accident.
A fetus is protected by the placenta, amniotic fluid, the uterus, and other critical structural elements in a mother’s body. In a collision that involves forceful impact, a mother’s body may not be able to protect the baby from that trauma. Depending on the pregnancy stage and the severity of the accident, it is not impossible to suffer a miscarriage and lose a child due to a collision.
Premature birth can result in congenital disabilities and other medical complications. Trauma to a mother’s body can induce labor much earlier than the intended due date. Upon an early term birth, a child may not survive or struggle with permanent disabilities.
Although infrequent, fetal trauma occurs when a head injury is sustained in an accident. With significant impact, a child’s brain is at risk for colliding with the front or back of the skull. This may cause brain damage that mimics the symptoms of shaken baby syndrome. While seatbelts and airbags have drastically reduced the likelihood of this trauma, it is vital to understand the risks.
Congenital disabilities are a result of insufficient physical or neurological development in a child. Both premature birth and fetal trauma can increase the risk of congenital disabilities. Often physical therapy, speech therapy, or occupational therapy may be necessary to aid proper development.
While pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure may deem a pregnancy as high-risk, injuries sustained in a car accident can also put the lives of the mother and her child in danger. For this reason, expecting mothers should take additional precautions when operating or riding in a motor vehicle and should use a seatbelt properly.
What To Do After an Accident
Especially if you are pregnant, it is important to contact emergency services as soon as you are in an accident. Regardless of the severity of the collision, consult with medical personnel to assess your well-being. Even if you do not feel as though you sustained serious injuries, adrenaline can mask physical pain.
If you can, take photos of the scene and be sure to collect the contact information of any other drivers, passengers, or witnesses. File a police report when authorities arrive. This information can be critical in filing any claims, including personal injury or wrongful death.
In the weeks following your accident, be sure to consult with your doctor, insurance company, and attorney to understand your options. Pregnant women may have higher expenses than the average victim of a car accident due to additional medical appointments, fetal monitoring, and potential pain and suffering.
If you have lost a child due to a car accident, you may consider filing a wrongful death claim. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help you understand your legal rights and entitlement to compensation.