How Does Pregnancy Affect Car Accident Claims?

Posted by Impact Legal | Dec 09, 2022

Nearly 200,000 pregnant women in the United States are in police-reported car accidents annually, according to the Birth Injury Help Center's website. Many of those women and unborn infants will have long-lasting injuries as a result, some even experiencing permanent disability. In this article, we will discuss the special considerations when it comes to pregnant women in car accidents, specifically how pregnancy may impact accident claims. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call or text our auto accident lawyers today at (602) 345-1818. You may alternatively fill out this online form, and we will reach back out to you to schedule your free initial consultation. 

Potential Fetal Injuries From Car Accidents Involving Pregnant Women 

 When a pregnant woman is in an auto accident, serious harm can come to her and the unborn child. Some fetal injuries that can happen following an accident include:

  • Placental Abruption
  • Uterine Rupture
  • Maternal Shock
  • Direct Fetal Trauma

In the case of placental abruption, the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus before the child is ready to be born. The detachment of the placenta from the uterus restricts oxygen and blood flow to the child, which can result in serious complications and injury. Placental abruption is among the most common severe pregnancy injuries, occurring in about 5% of accidents classified as “low impact,” according to the Birth Injury Help Center's website. 

Uterine rupture is rare. It happens when the uterine lining tears or ruptures when a woman is pregnant. While uterine rupture is fairly uncommon during car accidents, it's one of the most dangerous injuries and comes with a high risk of fetal mortality. 

When a mother is severely injured in an accident, she may go into hypovolemic shock. This type of shock happens when a high level of blood is lost and the body begins to reserve blood to protect the most vital organs. This causes severe risk to the fetus. The Birth Injury Help Center reports that fetal mortality rate is 80% when the mother goes into hypovolemic shock. 

The above injuries are indirect to the fetus, however, an unborn baby can be injured directly in an auto accident, too. Direct fetal trauma is not common in accidents – it's reported in fewer than 10% of accidents. 

Medical Expenses May Be Higher

Not only are emergency medical expenses more likely to be higher when a pregnant woman is in a car accident, future medical expenses for the mother or child may also be a factor in these types of cases. Emergency C-sections may be needed, and these procedures are quite costly. If an emergency delivery is necessary, the child may have a higher chance of being born with birth defects. Birth defects may require long-term medical care, leading to more costs. When a child has been injured during birth as a result of a car accident, the parents may be entitled to compensation to cover costs, such as surgical procedure expenses, medication costs, occupational therapy expenses, continuing medical treatment costs, and more. 

Non-Economic Damages May Apply in These Cases, Too

The emotional loss during these types of accidents can be large. When an unborn baby is injured and the pregnancy and delivery are even more difficult for the mother, a lot of emotional trauma can happen. Thus, when expectant mothers are involved in car accidents, they may be entitled to non-economic damages, such as emotional damages. 

Unlike economic damages, non-financial or non-economic damages do not have a clear-cut monetary value. Instead, there are different ways to calculate these damages. Non-financial damages may be awarded for the following types of losses:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Emotional trauma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of consortium
  • Severe physical pain

An experienced accident lawyer will help you put non-economic damages into monetary terms to better understand things like potential pain and suffering settlement amounts.

What Happens If the Baby Dies? 

The Birth Injury Help Center estimates that 1,500 to 5,000 unborn children are lost yearly due to auto accidents. When the unborn baby doesn't survive the accident, the parents may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit in Arizona. While the legal compensation that may be awarded in a wrongful death suit won't ease the pain of the loss of a child or loved one, it may ease the financial burden of the family. Other reasons to file a wrongful death claim against drivers who caused an accident due to negligence or intentional misconduct are:

  1. Accountability - When negligence or wrongdoing results in the death of an unborn infant, a wrongful death lawsuit helps to hold the at-fault party or parties accountable. Accountability can play a big role in healing and serve as a warning to others.  
  2. Recognition - The viability of a fetus is recognized in Arizona. If a viable fetus dies because of an accident or negligence, the court will consider the deceased infant as a person.
  3. Acknowledgment - In Arizona courts, a viable fetus is considered a person, and this can go a long way in helping the family heal after the loss.
  4. Justice - While a lawsuit won't bring back the unborn baby, it can bring the family a sense of justice to help them cope with the grief of loss. 

Set Up a Free Consultation with Our Auto Accident Lawyers

An expectant mother who has suffered from injuries sustained in a car accident, whether they be her own injuries or that of her unborn child, may be entitled to legal compensation to help facilitate her recovery and healing. Our auto accident lawyers provide free consultations to accident victims. Schedule your consultation today by texting or calling (602) 345-1818. You may also fill out this convenient and confidential online form, and we will reach out to you to schedule a time to meet. 

The information on our blog and website is for general informational purposes only, and it is not intended to serve as legal advice. For legal advice about your unique situation, call or text our car accident lawyers today. 

We are located in Arizona and New Mexico. We serve clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Maricopa, and the entire state of Arizona. We also serve clients in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Roswell, Farmington, Los Alamos, Las Cruces, and the entire state of New Mexico.

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