Pregnancy and Car Accidents: What You Need to Know

Car accidents are the leading cause of fetal death of all causes related to maternal trauma. Hemorrhaging is a common complication of maternal trauma during pregnancy. Other potential injuries of pregnant occupants in car accidents include: separation of the placenta from the uterus, uterine tears or lacerations, and injury to the fetus.  

The risks of car accidents during pregnancy are horrifying. Here’s what you need to know about the steps you can and should take after a crash.

Get Medical Attention Immediately After the Accident 

OB-GYNs recommend that expecting mothers seek medical examination immediately after an accident.  Even if you feel fine, you should seek medical attention after an accident. Many of the injuries to you or your baby that can be caused by a car accident are not going to be immediately visible. 

Call Your Healthcare Provider if Your Condition Worsens

Once you have been released from emergency medical evaluation, you will need to pay attention to your body.  Call your OB-GYN or midwife immediately if you notice:

  • Vaginal bleeding or leaking fluid;
  • Contractions or abdominal pain;
  • Any change in the baby’s movement.

If you feel unwell after an accident, you should contact your healthcare provider. 

Car Crashes and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes

Research has shown a connection between car crashes while driving during pregnancy and adverse pregnancy outcomes

That means if you have been in a car accident, your pregnancy is more likely to involve preterm birth, stillbirth, or obstetric complications such as:

  • Placental abruption (separation of the placenta from uterus);
  • Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM).

The adverse outcomes were more likely to occur if the mother was unbelted at the time of the crash. 

Car Accidents and High-Risk Pregnancies

After an accident, your pregnancy may be categorized as “high-risk.” High-risk pregnancies have different treatment protocols your healthcare provider will follow.  You may have more prenatal appointments.  That means higher medical bills and potentially lost wages

Pregnancy and Unforeseen or Uncommon Injuries 

In Florida, a negligent party is responsible for an injured party’s unforeseen and uncommon reactions to an injury.  This responsibility comes under a legal theory called the eggshell skull rule.  The rule is illustrated by an example. 

Say a car accident victim has a skull that’s as thin as an eggshell. Most people would only have minor injuries after a mild collision. But the eggshell skull victim experiences extreme brain damage because of their eggshell skull. The negligent party is responsible for the full damages of the eggshell skull victim, even though it was unforeseen and uncommon.

Similarly, pregnancy may lead to unforeseen and uncommon reactions to car accidents. However, a negligent party can be responsible for the damages suffered by the expecting mother. 

Pregnancy and Pre-Existing Conditions

If you are in a car accident during your pregnancy, the insurance company for the at-fault driver may attempt to refuse payment of medical bills. The company may claim that you would need treatment because of your pregnancy and regardless of whether you were in a car accident. They may say your pregnancy is a “pre-existing condition.” Should you find yourself in this situation, you need to contact an attorney experienced in insurance defense attempts to deny claims based on pre-existing conditions

Damages as a Result of a Car Crash

You can seek compensation for seven types of damages as a result of a car crash. In cases involving car crashes during pregnancy, expecting mothers may be entitled to compensation for medical care, emotional distress, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of companionship, wrongful death, and punitive damages.