There are few things more precious than an expectant mother and her unborn child. Ask any parent-to-be what they wish most for their baby and you will likely get the following reply: “I just want my baby to be born healthy.”
And while expectant mothers will take several steps to mitigate risks to their unborn baby, accidents do happen. As such, one of the greatest risks a pregnant woman can face is being involved in a car accident.
Not only do pregnant accident victims face the usual questions and headaches associated with an automobile collision, but they must also be mindful of the unique risks facing them and the health of their unborn child.
Before we take a look at unique conditions facing pregnant accident victims, it is important to first review some recommended safety precautions to limit the chance of injury to the unborn baby, and it starts with properly wearing your seatbelt!
Seatbelt and Safety Recommendations for Pregnant Drivers & Passengers
The physical changes a pregnant woman experiences can spring forth new questions related to everyday activities, such as how to properly wear a seatbelt in a car or truck.
Most important to remember is that doctors recommend wearing a seatbelt anytime you are in a vehicle, and to continue wearing it throughout the entirety of your pregnancy. Specifically, the NHTSA offers a diagram that shows advice on how a pregnant woman should wear a seatbelt.
If you are pregnant, it is advised that you wear a seatbelt in the following manner:
- The shoulder belt should be positioned away from your neck (but not off of your shoulder) across your chest (between your breasts). You should also make sure to remove any slack from the belt.
- The lap belt should be secured below your belly so that it fits snugly across your hips and pelvic bone. NEVER place the lap belt over or on top of your belly.
- Additionally, never turn off a vehicle’s airbag. Airbags are not a replacement for seatbelts. They are designed to work with a seatbelt during the event of a collision.
In addition to seatbelt and airbag considerations for pregnant women, positioning of the vehicle’s seat is also important:
- Pregnant women should adjust the vehicle’s seat so that it is in a comfortable, upright position that keeps as much distance as possible between them and the steering wheel. Striking a steering wheel during a collision can cause significant injury to an unborn fetus.
- Always avoid letting your belly touch or make contact with the steering wheel.
Ultimately, if someone else is able to drive, it can be safer for the pregnant woman to occupy a passenger seat. The lack of a steering wheel in a passenger seat helps to decrease the risk of injury to the fetus.
Despite taking these safety precautions, it is still possible for pregnant women to sustain an injury in a car accident, especially if the collision is severe. With this in mind, we take a closer look at three (3) unique health risks facing pregnant car accident victims.
Unique Injuries to Pregnant Accident Victims
Boulton Law Group has handled a number of cases throughout Indiana on behalf of pregnant car accident victims. The most serious of these cases will sometimes involve one of the following conditions wholly unique to pregnant women:
- Premature labor and birth – Depending on the severity of the impact and the mother’s stage of pregnancy, it is possible for the force of a car accident to induce labor well before the baby’s due date. As with any premature birth, a baby born as a result of a car accident may face a number of health risks that can result in temporary and/or lifelong conditions requiring ongoing medical care.
- Placental abruption – In some cases, the force of a car accident can cause a pregnant woman’s placenta to separate from her uterus. When placental abruption occurs, the woman may experience labor-like symptoms, such as pain, discomfort, vaginal bleeding, and/or fluid loss. Pregnant accident victims who experience any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
- Miscarriage – In especially traumatic accidents, it is possible for the pregnant woman to experience a miscarriage despite the protective barrier provided by amniotic fluid. A miscarriage can be caused by any number of factors related to the crash, such as non-seatbelt use, physical injury to the expectant mother, contact with the steering wheel, and/or cognitive duress.
And while each of the above conditions will often produce visible signs of injury, pregnant women should always advise their doctors of being involved in any car accident, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, and even if they do not believe they suffered an injury.
An injury to an unborn baby is not always immediately apparent. Even though the expectant mother may “have a feel” for whether or not something is wrong, your OB/GYN will be best equipped to perform testing that can better detect any invisible signs of injury to the fetus.
How Pregnancy & Injuries to the Baby Affect a Personal Injury Case
No amount of compensation can make up for the injuries to your baby, nor can it ever possibly replace the loss of a child. However, a properly filed personal injury claim can help to ensure your medical bills and any ongoing treatment will be covered by the insurance company, as well as provide you compensation for your pain and suffering.
In addition to the injuries suffered by the mother, Boulton Law Group aims to ensure that you are also compensated based on the fact that your unborn baby was involved in the collision.
Traditionally, the majority of personal injury claims will account for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, however, due to the fact that you were pregnant, it is important that the following potential factors also be included:
- Injury to the fetus – A pregnant accident victim has the right to seek payment for any medical expenses related to the injuries sustained by the fetus. Compensation should also include any bills related to future care that may be required as a result of the injury.
- Delivery complications – You can be reimbursed for all delivery-related costs associated with the accident. For example, your injuries may require the doctors to perform an unexpected C-section that increases the cost of delivery.
- Premature birth – Pregnant accident victims also have the right to seek compensation for any medical costs or procedures necessitated by premature birth.
As is the case with all pregnancy accident claims, the amount you receive will be directly related to the severity of your injuries, any liability for the accident, pregnancy complications, and whether or not your unborn baby suffered any type of injury, temporary or permanent.
Questions About Your Pregnancy Personal Injury Claim?
For more than 20 years, Indiana accident attorney Matt Boulton has helped Hoosiers recover compensation for their injuries and loss. In addition to helping expectant mothers recover compensation for injuries for themselves and their baby, the firm’s Get Treated Like Family attitude also provides pregnant accident victims with a caring, nurturing legal team.
If you were injured in a car accident while pregnant, Boulton Law Group also provides you with a Zero Fee Guarantee. This promise helps to ensure that you have access to award-winning legal representation no matter your financial situation.
To speak with Matt about your pregnancy personal injury claim, you can contact him directly at 317-350-2680. If you prefer to write, you can also use our confidential contact form. Matt personally reviews all web contacts sent to our firm.
We look forward to hearing your story and learning more about how we can possibly help you.
Attorney Matt Boulton is an award-winning personal injury attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping seriously injured people throughout Indiana reclaim what was taken from them. His firm was created for for the client who expects exceptional service and passionate, successful legal representation.