Regardless of the size of the impact, car accidents to a woman while she is pregnant are some of the riskiest and most worrisome situations that we encounter as car accident lawyers. At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we have represented countless women who have been injured in a car accident while they are pregnant. These cases are always difficult because of the unique risks to both the mother and the unborn child. We understand that these types of cases are about getting proper medical care and making sure that the baby is unhurt. In every case, your health and the health of your baby is our primary concern.
Symptoms of Injury Following A Car Accident While Pregnant
While it is recommended that you go to the hospital after every car accident, it is also advised to follow up with your OB/GYN as soon as possible. However, there are certain injuries that always require medical attention as follows:
- loss of consciousness
- vaginal bleeding
- pain in your abdomen or pelvis area
- fluid leaking from your vagina
- a sensation that something is bulging inside of you is a sign that there is something wrong with the umbilical cord
- vaginal bleeding or spotting
- if your fingers and face begin to swell
- vomiting that is unrelated to morning sickness
- fever or chills
- problems with the baby’s movement including a lack or decrease of movement
- painful urination
- dizziness, vertigo or faintness
Types of Injuries to a Pregnant Woman During a Car Accident
While the above outlines the symptoms of an injury to a pregnant woman and child after a car accident, the following are the categories of injuries that can occur:
Miscarriages following car accidents are rare. The good news is that the baby is well protected in the amniotic fluid. Only in a severe car accident where the stomach or uterus is punctured or cardiac arrest to the mother is a miscarriage more likely. However, it is always wise to err on the side of caution and receive a full examination after a car accident while you are pregnant.
Car accidents contribute to the premature birth of a child due to the stress that is placed on the mother. This stress is not limited to the impact. The pain and trauma of the mother can linger and thus contribute to ongoing stress.
Injured and premature babies following a car accident, fortunately, do not always develop birth defects. But, any birth defect caused by a car accident is obviously a major concern and must be monitored immediately.
If the mother or child is injured in a car accident, that pregnancy is usually then considered to be high risk. Being high risk requires more intensive monitoring and care because of the higher risk of complications.
Coup and Contrecoup Injuries:
Coup and contrecoup injuries are head injuries sustained during the impact of a car accident. To the mother, a coup injury occurs under the side of the impact with an object. On the contrary, a contrecoup injury is caused on the side opposite from the area that was hit or struck. To an unborn baby, these injuries are similar to what occurs during a shaken baby syndrome.
During pregnancy, the placenta is firmly attached to the inner walls of the uterus until the baby is born. Placental abruption is defined as a premature separation or abruption of the placenta. This condition can be directly related to the trauma of a car accident. Since the placenta is the lifeline to the fetus, this can be a very dangerous condition that needs to be treated with emergency medical care. I recently had a client suffer this injury in a car accident and she was rushed to the hospital where she was given an injection to stop the damage. Fortunately, simply from this injection, both mother and baby are safe.
According to statistics, 82% of all trauma-related deaths to fetuses are caused by car accidents. Thus, as mentioned above, one can never be too careful about monitoring the health of the mother and baby to prevent this type of catastrophe from occurring.
How to Prevent or Minimize Injury During a Car Accident While Pregnant
Women already take great steps to make sure that their unborn child is safe. While car accidents are often unavoidable, there are certain measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of injury.
While this is mainly common-sense advice, the roads in Florida can be full of dangerous drivers. Being a safe driver also means being a defensive driver.
Make Sure You Are Comfortable in Your Car
Pregnancy changes a woman’s body dramatically and with those changes, car seats also need to be adjusted. If you have not adjusted your seats to a comfortable position, it is advised to be done prior to driving.
It is a common misconception that a seatbelt increases the danger to the unborn child. It is recommended that the belt is placed below the child and across your chest. Using the correct position of the seatbelt prevents more injuries than it may cause.
Check the Airbags
There is another myth that an airbag deployment during a car accident will injure the baby. The airbag is meant to spread out the force of the impact. If you fear that the airbag is too close to the baby, then it is advised that you move the seat into a safer position. However, just like a seatbelt, an airbag is safer to have in a car than not.
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer
While we hope that you are never in a car accident while you are pregnant, the reality is that these accidents happen more than you may imagine. At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we always have at least several cases pending involving pregnant women injured in car accidents. We take great care of these cases due to the risk to the mother and baby. If you have been in a car accident, are pregnant, and either you or your baby has been injured, we encourage you to set up a consultation. Not all medical providers will treat a pregnant woman for liability reasons. However, due to our frequent handling of these car accident cases, we are familiar with excellent medical providers that will see you in consultation with your OB/GYN’s recommendations.