Every expectant mother dreams of giving birth to a healthy child, which is why car accidents occurring during pregnancy are so devastating. If you've been involved in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it's vital you understand how to protect your right to compensation for both you and your unborn baby.
How Common Are Car Accidents During Pregnancy?
Unfortunately, accidents do not exempt pregnant women. When on the road, an expectant mother involves assuming an element of risk—no matter how cautious you try to be. You can stay away from secondhand smoke, abstain from alcohol, and limit exposure to environmental toxins, but it's nearly impossible to avoid traveling in an automobile for nine months.
Approximately 170,000 car crashes in the United States each year involve pregnant women. It's been estimated that between one and three percent of all infants born in the United States were subject to an in-utero motor vehicle crash, with auto accidents being the top cause of traumatic fetal death.
What Pregnancy Complications Are Associated With Auto Accidents?
Your womb offers some protection for your baby during impact, but a car crash can still cause several serious complications. Your seatbelt, while necessary when driving, can cause extra pressure or trauma across the womb if the seatbelt is not placed low across the lap instead of across the womb. The following are a few examples of types of complications that can arise from an accident:
- Miscarriage is defined as the loss of a fetus prior to the 20th week of pregnancy. After 20 weeks, the absence of a fetal heartbeat is classified as a stillbirth.
- Premature birth results when a serious car accident results in an early birth during the third trimester. A premature birth is classified as any birth prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The earlier a baby is born, the higher the probability that he or she will suffer some form of physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
- Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus and is most common in auto accidents involving abdominal trauma. This can lead to preterm birth as well as significant blood loss for the mother.
Seeking medical care following a car accident is always recommended, but it's crucial when you're an expectant mother. You need to be thoroughly evaluated to determine if the crash caused complications for you or your baby. Once you've been released from the hospital, you'll be asked to watch for signs of fetal distress. Some of these signs include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leaking fluid
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Unexplained abdominal pain
- Fainting or dizzy spells
- Change in the strength or frequency of fetal movements
- Vomiting unrelated to morning sickness
- Chills or a fever
- Reduced or no fetal movement
Depending upon your health and how your pregnancy had previously been progressing, your healthcare provider may decide to classify your pregnancy as high risk due to the auto accident. This simply means you'll require extra monitoring and observation until you deliver. In some cases, bed rest may also be recommended as a precautionary measure.
What About Emotional Trauma?
The physical and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can make an expectant mother prone to anxiety and depression, which intensifies the emotional trauma associated with being involved in an auto accident. There may be many sleepless nights spent wondering if the force of the crash has caused harm to your unborn baby.
If you've been involved in a car accident while pregnant, you may want to speak with a psychiatrist or therapist to discuss how the accident has affected your outlook on parenting. Keeping a journal of your feelings can also be useful as both a therapeutic tool and as a way to preserve your memory and evidence to support your personal injury claim.
How Can I Protect My Right to Compensation?
Compensation for car accidents during pregnancy includes medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. With a pregnancy, if the accident is proven to have caused damage to the fetus which resulted in the need for additional medical care in-utero or after birth, those damages may also be recovered from the at-fault driver if there are available assets or insurance. There is no available recovery for the death of a fetus in an auto accident, but the mother, and possibly the father, of that fetus may have a claim for their personal emotional distress due to the loss of their unborn child.
California has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, so it's vital that you act before this deadline to preserve your right to compensation. The skilled attorneys at Inland Empire Law Group are committed to helping California mothers and their children receive the resources they need to move forward with their lives. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at either our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga office locations. (909) 481-0100 or (888) 694-3529 for all of Southern California or (760) 243-9100 specifically for the High Desert region of California.