A car accident, no matter how trivial it is, is a scary experience for everyone. But a car accident while pregnant can be even more terrifying. Worst still, the trauma the mom-to-be experiences due to the accident can also affect the unborn child, putting his/her health and life at risk.
While there are no exact data indicating how many pregnancies are lost in the U.S. every year due to motor vehicle accidents, the number is estimated to be anywhere between 1500 and 5,000 fetal deaths from such car crashes. Most miscarriage happen during the first trimester or so, making it rather difficult to get exact numbers. It is only the fetuses that die over 20-week gestational age are recorded.
However, according to Journal of the American Medical Association, “motor vehicle crashes account for four of five deaths that occur among unborn babies of pregnant women who experience trauma.”
Car Accidents and Pregnant Women
“Automobile crashes are the largest single cause of death for pregnant women and the leading cause of traumatic fetal injury mortality in the United States.” — U. S. National Library of Medicine
What makes driving while pregnant a major challenge is the fact that seat belts, which are considered to a key safety element, are not optimally designed for keeping pregnant women safe. While they work for most people, pregnant women and their unborn babies need something more (including a three-point seat belt) to avoid the trauma during a car crash.
Besides, the abdomen-to-wheel clearance decreases with the increasing in the fetuses’ gestational age. This further increases the chances of injury and trauma even if it was a minor crash. In addition, these soon-to-be moms usually have a tendency to drive in mid-seat height conditions and they prefer not to move further away from the steering in order to operate the pedals comfortably. But this habit makes driving while pregnancy even more challenging as there is less room for abdomen-to-wheel clearance.
All these factors often lead to injuries such as uterine rupture or laceration, placental abruption, and direct fetal injury etc. for pregnant occupant(s) involved in motor-vehicle crashes. The following are the most dangerous types of car crashes for a soon-to-be-mom and her unborn child:
- Side-impact, or T-bone, collisions
- Rollover accidents
- Head-on accidents
- Rear-end collisions
So if you are pregnant and somehow got yourself involved in a car accident, safety should be your first priority. Get medical attention as soon as possible, you can worry about whose fault it was and the claims later.
Things You Need to Do Soon After an Accident
As said, first priority for pregnant occupant(s) involved in car crashes is to immediately seek medical help to ensure the safety of both the mother and the unborn baby. Do this even if it is a minor fender-bender incident. The mental anguish like stress and emotional duress that result from the trauma can lead to birth complications or worse, the death of the fetus.
Call 911 and/or other emergency immediately. Some of the most common conditions pregnant women are like to feel after the accident include:
- Experience vaginal bleeding
- Feel pain in belly or pelvis
- Lose consciousness
- Experience leaking fluid from the vagina and/or feel the umbilical cord is bulging into the vagina
In case, the latter actually happens, get down to your knees immediately, keeping your buttocks higher than your head. This helps in decreasing the pressure on the umbilical cord and is likely to keep the baby safe until you receive medical attention.
Even if you are released by the medical professional, it is recommended to continue to monitor yourself for hours, days, weeks, and months for symptoms indicating a problem. The following are some of the conditions you need to be careful about:
- Swelling in your fingers or face
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Pain in your shoulder areas or abdomen
- Increased vaginal discharge or a leakage of fluid
- Persistent vomiting that has nothing to do with morning sickness
- Severe, constant headaches
- A noticeable change in the baby’s movement
- Chills or a fever
- Faintness or dizziness
- Urgent and painful urination
If you experience any of these conditions even months after the car accident, immediately get medical attention to seek further treatment. It is very important to remember that even a minor accident can lead to high-risk pregnancy, premature birth, or worse, miscarriage. You may even require to visit a perinatologist or maternal-fetal specialist apart from your regular doctor. These are doctors specialized in high-risk pregnancies.
When to Hire an Attorney if You’ve Been in a Car Accident While Pregnant
Pregnant drivers are likely to have more car crashes. ~ Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Any pregnant woman involved and injured in a car crash should ideally seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney, especially if she experiences any of the conditions mentioned above. High-risk pregnancies need additional medical care and will therefore incur additional cost. In fact, their costs usually outweigh the cost of a normal pregnancy by a large extend.
A personal injury attorney will help you file your claim and also help you recoup these costs. And unfortunately, if you have had a miscarriage, a lawyer can not only help you claim compensation for the loss but also help you deal with the agonizing and heart-breaking experience with professional legal counsel.
In short, you need a personal injury attorney protect you and your unborn baby’s rights by pursuing legal action against the at-fault party. Depending upon your situation, an attorney can assist you recover financial damages to compensate for medical expenses, loss of income, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
How to Prevent a Car Accident While Pregnant
Never trade safety for comfort when driving while pregnant. A three-point seatbelt, for example, can be often uncomfortable but it will surely keep you and your baby safe from the impact in case of a car crash.
Also, follow other safe driving tips when you are driving or riding a car while pregnant. And if you have been involved in a car crash, never take things for granted. Even if there is no visible injury, visit the emergency room soon after the accident and get yourself examined to ensure that your baby isn’t physically hurt. Remember that it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Author: Rachel Oliver is a freelance writer from Florida, who loves to write about topics like personal injury law, automobile accidents law, and medical negligence law. Currently, she is writing on behalf of a civil trial attorney, Christopher Jayson, Founder at JFSW Law. He has tremendous trial experience in cases involving automobile, truck and motorcycle accidents, inadequate security and premise liability, products liability, medical malpractice, and commercial litigation.