HIT BY A CAR WHILE PREGNANT
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Any car accident can be traumatic. However, a car accident while pregnant can be even more devastating as another life is involved. Sometimes, a pregnant mother who is involved in a car accident may suffer a miscarriage or her child may be born with birth defects.
How to Prevent Pregnancy Injuries from Car Accidents
Generally, it is safe to drive while pregnant, although consequences may be more severe in the event of an accident. Unless your doctor says otherwise, feel free to drive, but follow the tips below to ensure that you and your unborn child are safe.
Follow Traffic Rules
Though simple, you would be surprised how many drivers fail to follow the rules of the road. Remember to use your turn signals when switching lanes or taking turns. Do not tailgate drivers. Do not text and drive or drink and drive. Follow the speed limit. Too many car accidents happen as a result of drivers not following simple rules.
Make Sure You Adjust Your Car
Driving several months into your pregnancy will be different than driving at the beginning of your pregnancy. You may have to adjust your seat and steering wheel to adjust to the changes in your body. You do not want to immediately jump in your car and start driving only to realize that you cannot steer properly or that you feel uncomfortable in your seat. An uncomfortable driving posture raises the risk of an accident.
Wear Your Seatbelt
It is not true that wearing a seatbelt could cause harm to your baby if you brake quickly or are involved in an accident. If you wear the seatbelt correctly, no harm should arise due to the seatbelt itself. Place the seatbelt across your chest and make sure it does not go above your baby bump.
Make Sure Your Airbags Will Work Properly
Like seatbelts, airbags are intended to provide protection in case of accidents. Airbags will not harm your baby as a result of a car accident. As long as you have adjusted your steering wheel so that the airbag will spread out over your face and chest, you will not have to worry about the airbag being a threat to your baby.
Effects of a Car Accident on a Pregnant Mother
Because babies are well protected in the uterus, they will generally survive a minor car accident. Unless the mother undergoes cardiac arrest and is unable to breathe or the uterus is injured, the baby should survive.
Premature birth is more common than you may think. Nearly 500,000 infants are born prematurely. Because a car accident can place immense stress on a mother’s body, it is possible that premature birth can occur to a mother who was involved in a car accident. Premature birth is a birth that occurs prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy.
Though a car accident does not guarantee birth defects, they can occur if there were direct injuries to the fetus. Furthermore, if the baby is born prematurely because of a car accident, the baby may also develop disabilities.
Shaken Baby Syndrome
You may have heard never to shake babies. This is because babies have weak neck muscles and their brains can slam back and forth against their skulls if they are shaken violently. Many babies suffer from shaken baby syndromes every year. However, shaken baby syndrome does not have to necessarily occur when the baby is out of the womb. It can occur inside the womb as well as a result of a car accident.
A large proportion of fetal deaths are caused by car accidents. When a pregnant mother suffers a blow to her abdomen, the fetus may not receive adequate oxygen or may have suffered direct injuries, all of which can cause the termination of the fetus.
Whom May I Sue?
Though you may always sue the driver at fault for the accident, there are some exceptions you should be aware of. First, the mother of the unborn child cannot be sued even if she was at fault for the accident. Thus, the father of the unborn child may not sue the mother of the unborn child even if the mother caused the accident. Additionally, you may not sue a medical provider who caused the death of the unborn child through a lawful medical procedure. Therefore, if a physician causes the death of the unborn child, perhaps to save the mother after a car accident, any interested party may not sue the physician.
You should be aware that in Texas, that the surviving relatives of an unborn child generally have three months to file a wrongful death claim after the death of the child. Beyond that point, only the executor or administrator of the unborn child is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What to Do After a Car Accident?
1. Seek Medical Attention
Seek a medical examination immediately after an accident, especially so if you were hit by a car while pregnant. Although you may feel fine, your baby may not be. An impact against the abdomen can cause trauma to your unborn child and cause complications later down the road. You will want to ensure that such complications can be mitigated by going to a doctor.
2. Document the Accident
Whenever you are in a car accident, you should make sure that you document the accident.
Although the police will generally write a report of the accident, you may wish to do your own investigation as the police may not be thorough. Get the name, address, license number, plate number, and insurance information from all the drivers involved in the accident. Also, if a driver involved in the accident was driving for an employer at the time of the accident, you should obtain the name and contact information of the driver’s employer as well.
Because witness testimony is often very important in car accident cases, you should also get the names and contact information of the witnesses. If any of the witnesses took photographs or video recordings of the accident, ask them for copies. If you have a camera at the scene of the accident, take some photographs of the scene.
3. Keep Receipts and Invoices
You should keep and archive any costs that arise from the car accident. For instance, you should archive any medical bills. If, as a result of the car accident, you cannot work, you should also retrieve paystubs and the like to show how much “lost wages” you incurred.
4. Notify Your Insurance Company
Regardless of whose fault the accident is, you should always contact your insurance company as your insurance company may be able to give you some relief. However, do not make the mistake of talking about who was at fault for the accident. If your insurance company asks for a recorded statement, politely refuse.
Can I Receive Compensation for My Unborn Child’s Death?
Yes, unlike many other states, Texas allows a car accident victim whose unborn child died as a result of the accident to receive compensation through its wrongful death statute. Though family members historically could not sue an individual responsible for the wrongful death of their loved one, that all changed when Texas passed the Wrongful Death Act. This Act allows spouses, parents, and children of someone who was killed due to the negligence of another to sue the negligent individual. The relevant Texas statute states that a lawsuit for wrongful death may be brought if the "wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default" of one party causes the death of another. Additionally, the statute specifically states that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed on behalf of an unborn child and that it does not matter what stage of gestation the unborn child was in.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitation essentially states how much time you have to file a lawsuit. In Texas, any civil action for personal injury must be filed within two years from when the injury occurred. In other words, if you are involved in a car accident, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. However, if you were pregnant at the time of the accident and your unborn child passes away as a result, you may have more time to file, depending on when your child passed away. It is important to speak with an attorney to understand more about the legal time limits on your case because, in some cases, you may be able to file a claim even after the time limit has expired.
CONTACT A CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
The experienced Dallas attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your personal injury claim if you were hit by a car while pregnant. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.