How Pregnancy Affects Car Accident Settlements
Getting injured in a car accident is always a scary and unsettling experience but it is even scarier for pregnant women who are protecting a fetus in their womb. A serious accident while pregnant can cause medical complications for both the mother and unborn child, including premature labor. When you factor in the additional potential for damages – injuries and expenses related to the accident and resulting injuries – it is reasonable to ask: how much can pregnant women get from a car accident settlement?
In this article, we will discuss the risks to a pregnant mother and her fetus from a car accident and car accident claims for pregnant women.
Major risks to a fetus from a car accident
There are five major risks to a fetus from a car accident:
- Uterine rupture. A uterine rupture or injury is depicted by a tear in the uterus. A uterine rupture can put both the mother and unborn child at risk of life-threatening complications such as internal bleeding. Because internal bleeding isn’t visible, it’s important for pregnant women who have been in a motor vehicle accident to be seen for a medical exam to rule out issues such as uterine injury.
- Direct fetal injury. Motor vehicle accidents are the main cause of direct fetal injuries. Several studies have shown the connection between the use of motor vehicle safety devices, such as seat belts and airbags, with maternal traumatic injuries. Note: Safety experts agree that pregnant women should wear seatbelts while driving as it is the safest option for keeping mother and fetus safe. Expectant mothers should wear the lap portion of their seat belt below their belly so it’s low and snug over the hip bones and touching the thighs. The shoulder portion of the seatbelt should be worn snugly across the center of the shoulders and chest. Slide the seat back as far as you can comfortably reach the pedals so your belly is the safest possible distance from the airbag.
- Placental abruption. In a placental abruption, the placenta partially or completely separates from the uterus before the baby is born, limiting the fetus’ supply of oxygen and nutrients. A placental abruption increases the mortality rate by a factor of 12 due mainly to the high likelihood of premature delivery. Other risk factors are internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, and miscarriage. Studies suggest that broadside car accidents are the most likely type of car accident to cause placental abruption. Sometimes symptoms of placental abruption are not obvious, making it extremely important for pregnant women to get a medical exam after a car accident.
- Maternal shock. In serious car accidents, there is a risk that the pregnant woman may be badly injured, causing her body to go into hypovolemic shock. This type of shock happens when a large amount of blood volume is lost and the body attempts to compensate for the blood loss by tapping blood from essential organs. When a pregnant mother goes into shock from a car accident, the fetus is at extreme risk. The fetal mortality rate when a mother experiences hypovolemic shock is over 80%.
- Traumatic brain injury. It is possible for unborn children to experience whiplash injuries with similar effects to “shaken baby syndrome.” When a developing fetus is thrown backward and forward several times within the womb, it can cause traumatic brain injury and/or trauma to the neck and shoulders.
No matter what specific type of injury the mother and fetus endure from a car accident, the risk of miscarriage increases because of the physical trauma. It is extremely important to seek medical attention after an accident to ensure the safety of both the mother and fetus, whether injuries are obvious or not. If any of the following symptoms are present, the pregnant mother should go straight to the ER:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Physical trauma such as lacerations to the belly
- Severe abdominal pain
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness
- Urgent, painful urination
- Swelling in the face or fingers
Medical expenses after an accident involving a pregnant mother
Pregnant mothers are likely to experience higher medical expenses following a car accident than other car accident victims. At a minimum, doctors may require additional appointments and want to perform several hours of fetal monitoring to ensure that the fetus wasn’t harmed in the accident.
If the baby is born prematurely as a result of injuries sustained in the car accident, they may require a pricey extended stay in the ICU. The risk of birth injuries may also increase, which can potentially lead to ongoing issues and medical needs over the life of the child.
How Pregnancy Affects Car Accident Settlements
Generally speaking, a car accident settlement should be higher for a pregnant woman because of the mental and physical trauma potentially inflicted on both the expectant mother and fetus as well as the common reality of additional medical bills. Car accident lawyers are best qualified to assess the damages in a car accident case to determine the fair value of a car accident settlement.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!