What to Do if I Am in a Car Accident While Pregnant?Published: Oct 10, 2022 in Auto Accident, Personal Injury
According to the United States Library of Medicine, auto accidents are a leading cause of traumatic and mortal fetal injuries, affecting an estimated 200,000 pregnant women who are involved in police-reported car accidents every year. Your health and the health of your unborn baby are most important after a car wreck.
If you are pregnant and involved in a motor vehicle accident, you should seek immediate medical attention, even without the presence of pain, bleeding, or other symptoms. Prompt medical intervention can help you potentially avoid serious complications now and for the remainder of your pregnancy.
Fetal Injuries from Car Accidents
Estimates are between 300 and 5,000 fetal mortalities occur every year due to traffic accidents. More specific numbers are unavailable because only fatal injuries to fetuses over 20 weeks gestational age are required to be reported.
Pregnancy injuries and adverse outcomes that may occur from a car accident include:
- Direct Fetal Trauma: This is direct physical injury to the fetus, often from contact with the steering wheel, airbag, or seatbelt. This happens in fewer than 10 percent of accidents involving pregnant women. Lacerations and puncture wounds to the fetus are also possible during a serious vehicle collision.
- Maternal Shock: If the pregnant mother is severely injured, she may go into what is called “hypovolemic shock.” This occurs when the body compensates for extreme blood loss by reserving remaining blood for the vital organs. The fetal mortality rate when the mother develops this condition is over 80 percent.
- Placental Abruption: This occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterine wall, restricting the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby.
- Uterine Rupture: Uterine rupture is a rare condition that occurs when the uterine wall tears or ruptures completely, resulting in a high fetal mortality rate.
- Premature Birth: The conditions listed above along with other injuries resulting from the impact of a car accident can lead to a miscarriage or premature birth. Premature babies have an increased risk of breathing problems, developmental delays, and other complications.
Car Accidents and Pregnancy: What to Do
See a Doctor: Immediately after a car crash, it is normal to feel scared, confused, or in shock. Take a few seconds to breathe and assess the situation. Are you having abdominal pain, bleeding, or contractions? Are you leaking fluid? If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or ask someone at the scene to call for help.
Even if you do not have obvious signs of concern, you should still see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Your physician will conduct a throughout physical exam including an ultrasound to check the fetus and placenta. They may choose to keep you for additional monitoring or send you home to rest.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer: Car accident claims that involve an injured baby in utero are quite complex and require the experience and skills of a knowledgeable attorney. If you are injured or your unborn baby suffers health complications from an auto accident that was not your fault, you are likely entitled to recover compensation for injuries, medical costs, and other losses.
In the event of a tragic passing of an unborn baby, the at-fault driver may be liable for their wrongful death. This type of loss is more than just physical. The loss of an unborn child can be mentally and emotionally devastating for the family. These losses may be compensable as well.
Nothing can truly “fix” the loss of a child, but you may find some peace of mind knowing justice has been served. We recommend a consultation with a personal injury firm that has a proven record of success achieving good outcomes for their clients.
Safety Tips for Pregnant Drivers and Passengers
Avoiding driving altogether is probably not an option for most pregnant women. At some point, you have to go to the doctor, get to work, or run errands. Fortunately, there are steps every pregnant women can take to help keep their baby safe while driving.
Always wear a seatbelt: Use a three-point harness seatbelt with the belt and shoulder straps positioned in the proper location. Buckle the lap belt under your belly and over your hips. Never place it above or across your pregnant belly as that can lead to placental abruption in a crash.
Make sure airbags are working properly: It is a misconception that airbags should be deactivated for pregnant drivers. Instead, pregnant drivers should maintain around 10 inches between your breastbone and the steering wheel. If your steering wheel is adjustable, tilt it up and away from your abdomen. If the airbag deploys, the mother is protected and there is enough distance to reduce the amount of force to the stomach and the fetus.
Keep emergency contact information nearby: If you become seriously injured and cannot communicate, it is important to have your contact information available for first responders, especially if you are pregnant. Consider wearing a pregnancy ID bracelet that contains your due date, blood type, and other vital medical information about you and your baby.
Every driver who gets behind the wheel has a duty to operate their vehicle safely in accordance with traffic rules and laws. That duty protects them and others they interact with while driving. If they breach that duty by driving aggressively, drinking and driving, or any other reckless behavior, they must be held accountable when their choices harm others. If you or your baby have been injured by another person, contact an attorney to learn your rights and options to pursue justice under the law.
East St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers With The Cates Law Firm Will Help You Achieve the Best Possible Result for Your Case
With our team of East St. Louis car accident lawyers at the Cates Law Firm, you are much more than just a case number. We take great pride in the personal connections we have formed with our clients throughout the firm’s history. We advocate for you and fight for the compensation you deserve for pain, trauma, medical bills, lost wages, and other losses after a serious auto crash. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online to schedule a free case review today. Based in Swansea, we represent clients in and around Belleville, Carbondale, East. St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County, Illinois.