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Being in a car accident can be dangerous; it certainly is terrifying for anyone, but being in a car accident while pregnant is even more serious. Even if the car accident does not cause major damages to vehicles, pregnant women may be more at risk for injuries. Pregnant women not only have their own injuries to worry about, but must consider the risk of harm to their unborn child as well.
Car accidents can happen without warning. Even if you are a careful driver, being in a car accident while pregnant could pose serious harm, yet it is not often discussed.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in the Boulder area while pregnant, call our personal injury lawyers in Boulder, Colorado, at Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation.
The alarming statistics of pregnant women involved in car accidents
The CDC suggests that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury and death among expectant mothers. Between 1% and 3% of live-born infants have been exposed to a car crash while in utero; in fact, car crashes are the leading cause of traumatic fetal deaths. Approximately 92,500 pregnant women each year are involved in and injured in motor vehicle crashes.
Auto accidents can cause harm to babies even when their mothers wear seat belts; such protective devices can even cause further harm if not used properly. Nevertheless, the CDC recommends the use of seat belts to reduce the risk of adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Specifically, the shoulder belt should rest between the breasts, and the lap band should be worn low across the upper thighs and under the belly. Reportedly, about 52.8% of women disclosed that a health care provider discussed proper seat belt use during pregnancy.
The risks of harm in each trimester
Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters; each one poses different challenges for the woman and signals different stages of growth for the fetus. Risks to an unborn child while the mother is driving while pregnant rise as the woman’s pregnancy progresses.
The First Trimester
The first twelve weeks of pregnancy is considered to be relatively safe for the woman to travel and drive since the fetus is still very small. The first twelve weeks are comparatively safer for both the expectant mother and for the unborn baby than the second and third trimesters.
The Second Trimester
The risk of injury to the baby in the second trimester increases dramatically, with a majority of motor vehicle crashes occurring during this time. During the second trimester, the uterus enlarges to protect the fetus while also providing nutrients, blood, and oxygen from the mother. As a result, if the mother sustains a traumatic injury during this time, the injuries can disrupt these functions and cause severe harm to the fetus. During the second trimester, the risks of harm to the expectant mother and child include miscarriage, premature delivery, and hemorrhaging.
The Third Trimester
The third trimester is the riskiest time period for a pregnant woman to be involved in a car crash. During the third trimester, even what may seem like minor injuries can cause severe negative impacts on the unborn child. In the third trimester, pregnant women are more at risk for placental abruption, amniotic rupture, and fetal distress. Placental abruption from severe trauma is the leading cause of fetal death and accounts for roughly 60-70% of reported deaths. Other risks during this time period include early labor, still birth, excessive bleeding, or neurological issues in the newborn.
common pregnancy complications after a crash
One study found that up to 7% of all pregnancies in the United Stares are complicated by a traumatic injury. A car accident is considered a traumatic injury for both you and your baby. Along with the usual risk of injury resulting from a car crash such as whiplash, a pregnant woman may experience additional or different types of injuries.
A contrecoup injury is a type of injury that occurs when your body is suddenly forced in one direction then jerked in another direction. This sudden movement can happen easily in a car accident if you are rear-ended or if you slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. The effect on the unborn baby is similar to shaken baby syndrome, which can cause birth defects and developmental delays.
Placental abruption is a condition that causes the placenta to become separated from the uterine wall. Complications from this type of injury can include low birth weight, premature delivery, and poor physical development. It may also cause the mother to suffer a significant amount of blood loss which may require a transfusion.
A miscarriage is the loss of the fetus before it is due. Before 20 weeks of pregnancy, a loss of a fetus is considered a miscarriage. After 20 weeks, it is considered a still birth.
Babies who are delivered before the 37th week of pregnancy are considered premature. Babies who are born earlier than 26 weeks can have extreme challenges such as the inability to regulate body temperature, eat, or breath on their own. Some may develop neurological issues such as cerebral palsy, cognitive defects, or other debilitating, long-term disabilities.
Seek a medical evaluation immediately after a car accident
It is generally good advice to seek a medical evaluation after a car accident, but this is even more important if you are pregnant. There are several symptoms that should not be ignored and should be addressed immediately.
Any abdominal pain should be assessed immediately. This could indicate internal hemorrhaging or fetal distress. Vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, or sudden urinary problems are also serious and could indicate a sign of miscarriage or leaking amniotic fluid. Any headaches, dizziness, or spinal pain should be addressed. This could be caused by blood pressure changes or could indicate muscle strain or whiplash.
Even if the car accident was considered low-impact or you feel that it was minor, seeking a medical evaluation is still highly recommended. Even if you do not feel any symptoms immediately following the crash, complications could arise later or worsen. Be diligent and seek medical attention as soon as possible so that a doctor can perform any diagnostic tests necessary. Be sure to listen to all advice at the follow-up appointments that your health care provider gives you and maintain all medical records of doctor’s visits as this will be helpful should you decide to file a claim later.
Try to remain calm after the incident, as increased stress can be bad for you and your baby. One way to reduce the stress you are feeling is to reach out to one of our experienced and compassionate car accident attorneys in Boulder. Calmly discussing your legal options can go a long way toward easing your worry about the financial and physical consequences of the accident.
potential personal injury settlement considerations
If you were involved in a car accident while you were pregnant in Boulder and it was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may have a strong claim for personal injury. Victims of car accidents are entitled to compensation for their injuries. In additional to property damage, pregnant women may incur other expenses because of being involved in a car accident while expecting. These expenses may include medical expenses, future medical expenses, lost wages, and non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
Pregnant women involved in car accidents will almost always have to undergo additional medical care. This may include a visit to the emergency room or to see various specialists like an obstetrician. You may have extra fetal monitoring, ultrasounds, or other diagnostics ran to check on the baby. All these expenses may be recoverable.
If your pregnancy is labeled as high-risk after a car accident, this means that you will have to have extra monitoring and medical care until you deliver. The added stress of these treatments may be considered pain and suffering and could also be recoverable.
If you had to undergo an emergency c-section or if your baby was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) after a car accident, these will factor into your settlement as well. Any birth defects that resulted from the car accident will be considered. Birth defects could cause long-lasting effects on your baby that may result in medical care for the rest of his or her life. In the case of severe physical disabilities, if a wheelchair is needed and if your home must be modified to allow accessibility, these costs may be recovered in a personal injury settlement.
While it may be tempting to settle with the other party immediately following a car accident, it is important to remember that if you wait, you could recover for any future harms that arise. For this reason, it is best to wait to agree on a settlement until after the baby is born and any additional damages can be assessed. One of our personal injury lawyers can help assist you in making these decisions.
Get Help from boulder car accident lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our Boulder personal injury attorneys are experienced and have handled many cases involving pregnant victims of car accidents. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine what to do next and to help recover the best possible outcome for your case.
Call us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free and confidential consultation with one of our car accident lawyers in Boulder, Colorado. You will pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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