We all know that car accidents can cause very serious injury to the driver and all passengers in a vehicle. Unfortunately, pregnant women and their unborn children are at a greater risk of injury and even death when involved in car crash. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of traumatic fetal death.
That’s why if you’re an expecting mother, you should know what precautions to take to avoid serious injury in a car accident. Moreover, you should know what to do in the event you’re in a car wreck. Read more below to make sure you protect yourself and baby!
Up to 3% of Pregnant Women Will be Involved in a Car Accident
According to a 2013 study, nearly 3% of pregnant women in North Carolina were involved in a car accident. There is nothing unique to North Carolina to believe the results would be different for pregnant women in West Virginia and Ohio. Thus, it’s reasonable to assume that approximately 3% of pregnant women in West Virginia and Ohio will be involved in a car or other auto crash.
While the odds of a pregnant women being involved in a car accident are thus low, they’re definitely not negligible. Let’s put this 3% into perspective. In 2019, there were 18,136 live births in West Virginia and 134,461 live births in Ohio. At a 3% auto accident rate, that would mean approximately 544 pregnant women in West Virginia and 4,033 pregnant women in Ohio were involved in a car accident.
50% of Pregnant Women Involved in a Car Accident Will be Injured
While the odds of being involved in a car accident while pregnant are statistically low, if you are, the odds that you are injured are much, much higher. According to a 2020 study, half of the pregnant women involved in a car accident sustained an injury. Pregnant women are more susceptible to injury in a car accident than those who are not pregnant. Of course, injuries to an expecting mother can cause injury to baby or pregnancy complications.
Wearing a Seat Belt is of Paramount Importance
Wearing a seat belt is perhaps the single most important thing a pregnant woman can do to avoid injury to herself and baby. This is true no matter whether the expecting mother is in her first or third trimester. Seat belts save lives.
However, pregnant women need to make sure they know how to properly wear a seat belt while pregnant. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends the following:
- Buckle the lap belt below your belly so that it fits snugly across your hips and pelvic bones
- Place the shoulder belt across your chest (between your breasts) and over the mid-portion of your collar bone (away from your neck)
- Never place the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back
- Pull any slack (looseness) out of the belt
Car Accidents Can Cause Fetal Injuries and Complications
Car accidents typically involve sharp changes in speed and abrupt stops due to collisions. Thus, car and other motor vehicle accidents can cause a variety of injuries to an unborn baby and cause pregnancy complications even without direct fetal injury. Injuries to baby can include any type of injury suffered by anyone else—brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, bruising, etc.
Complications to the pregnancy can be just as severe and may result in low birth weight, preterm delivery, or required caesarian section (c-section). One severe complication of many car accidents is placental abruption. Placental abruption is an injury suffered in some car accidents where the placenta partially or completely detaches from the wall of the uterus. This interferes or prevents baby from obtaining the oxygen and nutrients he or she needs. Placental abruption can also cause heavy bleeding in the mother.
Even “Minor” or Low Impact Car Accidents Can Cause Injury and Complications
Very rarely are there “minor” car accidents. Of course, if someone taps your bumper that you could barely feel, you can be pretty assured that you haven’t suffered any serious injury. However, the vast majority of car accidents involve significant forces that can cause injury without you knowing. The full extent of many injuries—such as whiplash and concussions—are not felt for many days after a car accident.
This is especially true for pregnant women and baby. Pregnant women and their unborn children are at an increased risk of injury and those injuries. Baby can’t tell anyone what he or she is experiencing in the womb. While an expecting mother may have escaped injury during a car accident, that does not mean that baby has.
Pregnant Women Should Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
Because of the nature of injuries and complications to pregnant women in car accidents, it is extremely important that pregnant women seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Some of the more common signs and symptoms that pregnant women should be on the lookout for after an accident include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal discharge
- Stomach pain or abdominal pain
- Loss of memory
- Swelling of the face, arms, and/or legs
- Problems urinating
- Changes in baby’s movement
Again, every pregnant woman involved in a car accident—no matter how minor—should seek medical attention regardless of whether they experience any of the above signs and symptoms. If for nothing else, receiving confirmation that neither you nor baby have experienced an injury can give you peace of mind.
A Knowledgeable and Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
The legal issues surrounding a car accident involving a pregnant woman can be complex. Injuries to mother and baby are not always apparent and can involve long-term complications and life-long disabilities. That’s why the best car accident lawyers will work with experts to identify all injuries and make sure mother and baby receive the compensation they deserve.
If you’re a pregnant woman and injured in a car accident, the help of a knowledgeable and experienced car accident lawyer is key. The car accident lawyers at Gold, Khourey & Turak have that knowledge and experience and are ready to provide immediate assistance. At GKT, all of our consultations are free and without obligation. We never charge any upfront costs and all of our cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. That means we do not charge a fee unless we get your results.
It’s never too early to contact a car accident attorney. To take advantage of our free case review today, contact GKT’s car accident lawyers online, by Live Chat, or by phone at (304) 845-9750.