Wondering what to do if in a car accident while pregnant? It’s a tricky scenario—and a dangerous one. If you or a loved one is pregnant, it’s a good idea to be prepared. Even a mild automobile accident can put undue stress on your body, which could impact your unborn child. A more serious car wreck could lead to devastating consequences.
Whether you experience a small fender-bender during your first trimester or a crash later in your pregnancy, your first stop after your accident needs to be the emergency room. You also need to call your obstetrician right away. Even if you feel fine, you could have subtle or invisible injury symptoms that could harm yourself or your child.
What Types of Possible Pregnancy Complications Might Occur After a Car Accident?
What should you expect when you’re expecting—and you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident?
When you need to know what to do if in a car accident while pregnant, it’s important to know the very real stakes that exist for you and your child. You could sustain life-altering or life-threatening injuries or symptoms. Your child’s life could be in danger—particularly if you experience maternal shock or any serious bodily trauma.
These are the possible complications you may encounter:
- Maternal Shock: Shock is far more than an unpleasant feeling. If you’ve lost enough blood, fluid, or oxygen, your body will reroute all of your resources to save your life—which may cut off support from your child. This can result in significant harm for both you and your child.
- Placental Abruption: The placenta is a uterine organ that develops for the sole purpose of delivering nutrients and oxygen to your baby. (It also shuttles away waste to keep your child’s environment clean.) In some traumatic occasions, the placenta can detach from the uterus, which necessarily interferes with its ability to do its job. It is difficult for unborn children to survive this type of event.
- Maternal Death: If the mother of an unborn child dies, the child will rarely survive.
- Uterine Rupture: The uterus houses your child from implantation through delivery. If you undergo stress or shock such that your uterus tears, your child will suffer fatal injuries.
- Contrecoup Injury: When your body moves quickly from one direction to the next—much like whiplash, but for the whole body—that jerking sensation can harm the baby. This violent motion can result from an accident itself or from quick turns taken to avoid a collision.
- Premature Birth: The shock of the incident could cause birth before the 37th week, or premature birth. This could result in birth complications or long-term conditions. Any child born before the six-month mark will likely suffer from complications that could endanger their life.
- Birth Complications: With certain types of maternal or fetal injuries—or in cases of premature birth—the likelihood of a more complicated birth rises. Complications during birth can result in long-term disabilities for the child and pain and suffering for the mother.
- Miscarriage: The shock, trauma, or any conditions that result from the car accident can also result in the loss of the child.
This is not an exhaustive list. If you’re wondering what to do if pregnant and in a car accident, you need to remember that your health and safety—as well as that of your child—come before all else.
A pregnant woman’s body does many, many things in concert to keep her child safe. It’s not hard to knock that delicate system out of balance, which means that even situations that do not seem very forceful can have drastic repercussions for a mother and an unborn child.
Unfortunately, this means that many vehicular situations can cause your child harm. For example:
Can a fender bender hurt the baby?
Can a car accident cause a miscarriage?
What about a sudden stop in a car while pregnant? Can that hurt my child?
The short answer in all of these cases is—yes. Even if you feel unharmed after your accident, you need to call your obstetrician and visit a hospital to get checked out as soon as possible.
What to Do if In a Car Accident While Pregnant: Symptom Spotting
In some cases, symptoms relating to an injury from a car accident can have a delayed onset. This is common with fetal injuries after significant trauma. In the weeks following the accident, monitor yourself and your child for these potential indications of fetal trauma:
- Maternal fever or chills
- A change in how your baby moves
- Unexpected contractions
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of consciousness
- Bruising on your stomach
- Maternal swelling (e.g., in the face or fingers)
- Painful or unexpectedly urgent urination
It’s far better to be safe if you’re noticing these types of symptoms. Even if it’s been a few weeks since your accident, your child may still be undergoing trauma or untreated injuries—as could you. Going to your doctor to learn more about your child’s condition will not only be best for their health, but it’ll also be good for you too.
Protecting Yourself if You’re a Pregnant Driver
Perhaps you haven’t been in an accident yet. Perhaps you’re proactively wondering what to do if in a car accident while pregnant. In this case, consider implementing the following precautions to safeguard yourself and your child:
- Wear a seatbelt (and wear the lap belt under the abdomen, not over the belly)
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding travel
- When possible, let someone else drive so you can be the passenger
- Adjust your seat back to allow enough room for you to steer
However, know that even if you’ve taken these precautions, sometimes there isn’t anything you can do—or that you retrospectively could have done—to forestall a tragic event.
If you’re in a car accident, you and your child will both need immediate and ongoing care. One or both of you may sustain long-term injuries. You will need resources and support to move past this event effectively, yet you’ll also need time and space to heal, grieve, or recover. That’s where we come in. Allow us to use our legal expertise to help you pursue the compensation you need to secure your family’s future so that you can concentrate on your path forward.
What Are My Legal Options?
If you have sustained a personal injury or any pain and suffering after your car accident, there are avenues you can take to pursue compensation to support your recovery.
Any harm done to your child may be a different story.
It’s time to discuss what to do if in a car accident while pregnant and that car accident has resulted in miscarriage or wrongful death of your unborn child.
Wrongful death for an unborn child in a motor vehicle accident will likely occur in one of two ways.
- Firstly, the mother is fine, but the child sustains trauma in utero that causes death or other adverse events;
- Secondly, the child dies because the mother does as well.
Your car accident attorneys will help you determine whether it’s best to handle your case under separate claims for mother and child or with one more unified strategy.
Your location may influence this decision. In some states, unborn children are not eligible for their own wrongful death lawsuit. In other states, there is a certain developmental point or viability standard that a child must reach to be eligible for this type of claim. In yet other cases, the specific circumstances of the accident can influence the state’s decision to allow or disallow a wrongful death suit for an unborn child.
Wondering what to do about a car accident that occurred during your pregnancy? Call us.
When you need to know what to do if in a car accident while pregnant, give our team a call. You have options. You have rights. You need to make sure that you have all of the information you need to keep you and your family safe.
At Scholle Law, our auto accident lawyers have worked tirelessly to represent the interests of families who have experienced devastating losses. We have made sure that they have received the compensation necessary to heal after a traumatic event. With our legal experience and expertise, we can help you protect your family and future from further pain and suffering.