How Pregnant Moms Can Seek Compensation After a Car Accident

Key Points:

  • Approximately 170,000 car accidents involve pregnant women across the United States every year.
  • Insurance companies are aware pregnancy-related injury bills can be very high, but they will try to avoid or minimize the amount they must pay.
  • Working with a car accident lawyer is the best way to ensure you receive compensation for both physical and emotional harm.
  • In Georgia, a wrongful death case may be applicable if the death occurred to an unborn child that was “quick,” meaning the mother could feel the baby moving inside her womb before the accident.

Unborn Babies Face Increased Risks During Car Travel for Pregnant Women

The unborn baby in a pregnant women’s womb has the least amount of protection in a vehicle. Cars have many safety features to protect people, but when a woman is pregnant, there are extra concerns. Even small car accidents or quick stops can be harmful to the unborn baby, leading to health issues. Doctors and safety experts are now saying that it’s important for pregnant women to be extra careful when they’re in a car.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, car accidents account for 4 out of 5 unborn baby deaths, resulting from physical trauma to the pregnant women. In the most serious accidents, the mothers-to-be can also be killed.

What Injures an Unborn Fetus in a Car Accident?

In a car accident, an unborn baby can be hurt in several ways:

  • Blunt Force: If the mom’s belly hits something hard like the steering wheel, it can hurt the baby.
  • Sudden Stops: Quick stops can cause the baby to move sharply inside the womb, which might lead to the placenta getting detached.
  • Mom’s Injuries: If the mom gets hurt, this can also harm the baby, especially if there’s a lot of blood loss.
  • Seat Belt Injury: If the seat belt isn’t worn right, it can injure the mom’s belly and the baby.
  • Stress: The shock from the accident can affect the baby, like causing the mom’s heart rate to go up.
  • Chemicals: If there are dangerous chemicals or fumes from the accident, they could be harmful to the baby.

Is an Unborn Baby at Risk of Injury from Contact With an Airbag?

Yes, an unborn baby is at risk of injury from contact with an airbag in a car accident. Airbags are designed to deploy rapidly and with great force to protect adults in a collision. However, this force can be too much for a pregnant woman’s womb. If an airbag deploys and hits a pregnant woman’s abdomen, it can cause blunt force trauma. This impact can potentially harm the unborn baby. Risks include placental abruption, where the placenta detaches from the uterus, and direct injury to the baby.

Common Complications Pregnant Woman Suffer in Car Accidents

A car accident can cause a variety of injuries and complications for pregnant women and their unborn fetuses. Some of the most common issues include:

  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth (forced C-section)
  • Birth defects
  • High-risk pregnancy
  • Coup and contrecoup injuries
  • Placental abruption
  • Fetal trauma
  • Broken bones
  • Emotional pain for the expectant mother

While some thought and engineering have gone into designing safety features for children, the level of protection for an unborn fetus is almost nonexistent in most vehicles. Even airbags, which offer general protection to most people, can harm or even kill an unborn child during a car accident. Crashes that occur even at low speeds can exert enough force to cause a miscarriage in a pregnant woman, along with other types of injuries.

Can Even a Minor Accident Injure an Unborn Baby?

Yes, even a small car accident can harm an unborn baby. Here’s why:

  • Shaking: The baby can be shaken inside the womb during a sudden stop or jolt, which might cause the placenta to detach from the uterus.
  • Stress: The mother’s stress from the accident can affect the baby, changing blood flow or oxygen.
  • Seat Belt Pressure: A seat belt that’s not worn right can press on the mom’s belly and hurt the baby in a minor crash.
  • Indirect Harm: Even if the mom isn’t hurt, the force from the accident can reach the baby and be harmful.

Is it Difficult for a Pregnant Woman to Prove That a Minor Accident Caused Injury to Her Unborn Baby?

Yes, it can be hard for a pregnant woman to prove that a minor car accident hurt her unborn baby in a personal injury legal claim. The main reason is that she needs strong medical evidence to show the accident caused the injury. This means having medical records, tests, and sometimes expert doctors’ opinions. It’s tough because the injury must be clearly linked to the accident and not just a normal issue with the pregnancy. Plus, the law requires her to prove that the accident directly led to the injury and that someone else was at fault.

Another challenge is the timing. If she gets a medical checkup right after the accident and the injury is found then, it’s easier to connect it to the accident. But if there’s a delay, it gets harder to prove that the accident was the cause.

Essential Safety Guidelines for Pregnant Women When Driving

  • Wear Seat Belt Right: The lap part should be under your belly, and the shoulder part between your breasts and to the side of your belly.
  • Adjust Your Seat: Sit as far back as comfortable from the steering wheel while still reaching the pedals.
  • Steering Wheel Tilt: Aim it towards your chest, not your belly.
  • Take Breaks on Long Drives: Stop to walk and stretch often.
  • Avoid Driving if Tired or Stressed: Only drive when you feel alert and well.
  • Stay Focused: Keep distractions like phones away.
  • Watch for Warning Signs: If you feel dizzy or sick, pull over.

How Does the State of Georgia Value the Loss of an Unborn Baby

Georgia Law O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1

Under Georgia Law O.C.G.A. § 19-7-1, there is a provision that allows parents to file wrongful death claims for their unborn child, acknowledging the legal rights of a viable fetus. A fetus is considered “viable” when it is capable of living outside the mother’s womb, which is typically around the 24th week of pregnancy, although this can vary. This means that if an unborn child at this stage of development is lost due to someone else’s negligence or a criminal act, the parents have the right to pursue legal action. The law thereby recognizes the unborn child as an entity with legal rights, separate from the mother.

However, there are certain limitations and exclusions to this provision. Wrongful death claims for an unborn child are only valid if the child was viable at the time of the incident. Additionally, the law does not permit such claims in cases where the mother consents to an abortion, in medical procedures carried out with the mother’s consent, or in the administration of lawful medications. Furthermore, the statute empowers parents to take legal actions on behalf of their minor children, which includes the ability to file lawsuits for any injuries their children sustain, reflecting the broader scope of parental rights in legal matters concerning their children.

How Does Compensation Differ Between a Fatal Accident Involving an Unborn Child and One Involving an Adult?

When comparing money given for the death of an unborn child and an adult in a car crash, there are big differences. For an unborn baby, the law mostly looks at how sad and hurt the parents are. This means they might get money for their emotional pain and the loss of the chance to be with their child. But, things like how much money the baby would have made when they grew up aren’t considered because the baby hadn’t started living its own life yet.

For adults, it’s different. When an adult dies, their family can get money for the emotional pain, but also for things like the money the adult would have earned in their job in the future. This helps support the family who depended on them. The law tries to figure out things like the adult’s job, how much they could have made over the years, and how they helped at home. Each case is unique, but generally, for adults, there’s more focus on the practical stuff like money and support, besides just the emotional loss.

Evidence Needed to Prove an Accident Injured an Unborn Baby

For a successful claim involving a pregnancy injury from a car accident, it’s essential to provide evidence for two critical elements: 1) proving that the driver insured by the insurance company was at fault, and 2) showing that the accident was the direct cause of the pregnancy-related injury.

Like in any car accident case, the strength of evidence is crucial. Gathering and presenting solid proof regarding these two key aspects is vital for effectively supporting your claim.

Common types of evidence in cases of pregnancy injuries from car accidents include:

  • Medical records confirming your pregnancy.
  • Medical reports linking the accident to changes or complications in your pregnancy.
  • Expert opinions from medical professionals on the nature and extent of the pregnancy-related injuries or complications.
  • Statements from witnesses who saw the accident.
  • Official police reports documenting the accident.
  • Photographic evidence of the pregnancy, which might include before-and-after pictures or ultrasound images.

Your pregnancy injury case might require additional evidence not listed above. It is critical to paint a complete picture of what happened with an appropriate accident investigation and presentation of evidence.

If you fail to provide the necessary evidence to sustain your claim, you may end up without any financial recovery at all.

FAQs About Pregnancy and Car Accidents

Is it possible for a car accident to result in a miscarriage if the pregnancy is less than 12 weeks along?

Yes, a car accident can potentially lead to a miscarriage, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This early stage of pregnancy is a critical time for the developing fetus, and the impact or trauma associated with a car accident can pose risks.
However, the likelihood of a miscarriage following a car accident depends on several factors, including the severity of the accident, the type of impact, the mother’s overall health, and the use of safety measures like seat belts. Minor accidents without significant trauma are less likely to cause a miscarriage before 12 weeks, but it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately after any accident during pregnancy.

Can a car accident cause premature labor or delivery?

Yes, a car accident can potentially cause premature labor or delivery. The trauma and stress from a car accident can lead to a variety of complications in pregnancy, including the onset of premature labor. The risk is particularly heightened if the impact directly affects the abdominal area or if there are secondary factors like maternal injury, stress, or shock. The severity of the accident, the stage of pregnancy, and the mother’s overall health are key factors in determining the risk. It’s crucial for pregnant women involved in any car accident, regardless of its severity, to seek immediate medical attention to ensure the safety and well-being of both the mother and the baby.

If a car accident necessitates the early induction of an unborn baby who survives without complications, could this lead to increased compensation in a related claim?

It is possible. If your lawyer can show that the car crash caused you to have your baby early, you might get more money from the case. This can be hard to prove, especially if you were almost due around 38-40 weeks along, but if you had to give birth early, like between 30-35 weeks, right after a car crash, you could possibly get more compensation. This is even more likely if your baby had to stay in the hospital longer because they were born too early.

Should I visit my OBGYN after a car accident, even though it was a minor car accident?

Yes, it’s important to seek a medical professional’s evaluation even if you don’t feel any pain. You’ll want to ensure everything is alright, particularly from a healthcare provider equipped with the necessary technology and experience in managing pregnancies.

I have always appreciated the 500 back to school pencils from Millar. However, this year I am even more thankful because students are discouraged from sharing supplies due to Covid-19 protocols. Thank you Millar Law Firm for your continued community involvement.

five stars
Jerilyn H.
linkedin icon