Risks and Concerns for Pregnant Women and their Unborn Babies in Massachusetts Car Crashes

Being injured in a car accident can be a very traumatic event. Injuries can cause extreme pain, medical bills to pile up, and possibly prevent you from working to earn money. Things can be even more stressful for women who are injured in a car crash while pregnant.  Being in a car accident when pregnant can lead to very serious injuries and complications for, not only the expecting mother, but the unborn baby.  Unfortunately, car accidents involving expecting mothers happen more often than we’d like to think.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some suprising statistics about pregnant women and car accidents. According to the CDC:

  • 170,000 car crashes in the U.S. each year involve pregnant women.
  • Motor vehicle-related injuries are the leading cause of death among women of the reproductive age;
  • Car accident injuries are  the leading cause of death and injury for pregnant women. 
  • Between 1-3% of live-born infants are exposed to car crashes in utero and car accidents are the leading cause of traumatic fetal deaths. 

Remembering Our Babies is an organization providing support, education, and awareness to those who suffer from the loss of a fetus or infant.  President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month in 1988.  October 15th of every year is the day of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance.  This day was found to support families and celebrate the loss of fetuses and infants.

Common Injuries an Unborn Baby Can Suffer in a Car Crash

Car accidents, no matter how severe, pose a unique and increased risk of serious injury to pregnant mothers and their unborn babies.  Pregnancy should be a happy and exciting time for the soon to be mothers and their family. But, pregnancy alone can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful. In early pregnancy, it is important that stress levels remain low. A car accident automatically creates increased distress and fear in accident victims.

  • Too Much Stress: Being stressed is common during pregnancy. But being under too much stress can cause unwanted effects while pregnant. Excessive stress can lead to trouble sleeping, headaches, loss of appetite or overeating. The extreme stress from an accident during pregnancy can cause birth defects or complications.  Severe mental anguish and stress should be discussed with a medical professional.  This can also be an important factor in your personal injury claim.
  • Placental Abruption: In the later stages of pregnancy, sudden impact, such as a car accident, can lead to serious injury to the fetus.  The most common injury is placental abruption.  Placental abruption is when the placenta separates itself, either partially or completely, from the uterus.  A separated placenta can deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients.  It could also cause severe internal bleeding, or hemorrhage.  Some additional side effects of placental abruption are a miscarriage or premature delivery.
  • Miscarriage: A miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of a fetus and is a very common complication associated with early pregnancy. Miscarriage is a scary consequence of a car accident. While the baby is generally well protected in the amniotic fluid, if a traumatic event, such as a car accident, causes the stomach and uterus to be stuck or punctured a miscarriage can result. Also, in a situation where the expecting mother goes into cardiac arrest after a severe car accident, miscarriage is also serious risk.  Although a miscarriage is rare in most accidents, an expecting mother should still get checked out by her doctors.
  • Premature Birth: A premature birth is one that happens more than three weeks before the baby is due. Car accidents can sometimes result in premature birth and additional complication.  This can be caused by the extreme stress placed on the mother and her body following a car accident.
  • Birth Defects: In more serious car accidents the fetus can be directly injured.  A direct injury to the unborn baby can result in birth defects and developing disabilities. In a situation where the baby is born premature from complications due to a car accident, the risk of future disabilities increase.

What to do After a Car Accident while Pregnant

If you are involved in a car accident while pregnant you should still follow the Three Important Steps we recommend for all car accident victims. Calling 911 is probably the most important thing to remember because it will notify the police that there has been a car accident and get immediate medical attention for anyone injured. 

As a pregnant mother, it is crucial to remember to worry about your baby as well as yourself. We cannot stress enough how important it is to seek medical attention immediately after being in a car crash. The fetus could have been jolted or under extreme stress, which can cause serious complications to an unborn baby, even in minor car accidents. Even if you feel fine and do not call for an ambulance, an expecting mother should always get a full checkup after a car accident for herself and the unborn baby.

You should also speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer after being injured in a car accident. An attorney that has successfully represented accident victims in personal injury cases can help, among many other things, (1) deal with the insurance companies, (2) handle the loads of paperwork that needs to be completed and filed, and (3) properly advise a client on the necessary steps to take to get the best possible settlement.   

An injury lawyer can also educate and counsel an accident victim on the many things that can have a negative impact on an injury claim. An experienced personal injury firm can educate their clients and guide them through the claim process all while protecting their rights. 

Protecting You and Your Baby from Injury

Though wearing your seat belt cannot guarantee safety, it can help reduce the risk of a serious injury.  While pregnant, a properly worn seat belt can protect you and your unborn baby from injury by 45%.  It is recommended that you secure your seat belt by wearing the lap belt under the belly, across your thighs and the shoulder belt across your chest.  A tightly secured seat belt is the safest defense mechanism against negligent drivers.

Additionally, expecting mothers should be extra vigilant and follow the rules of the road. Many accidents are caused by the failure to obey traffic laws. A pregnant mother should always check their speed and make sure you leave enough space between your vehicle and others.  Now, of course, we cannot control what other driver’s do. We can, however, pay extra attention while driving to try to avoid a carless driver or minimize any possible injury.

Get Legal Help

Mahaney & Pappas, LLP is an experienced car accident law firm that specializes in Massachusetts personal injury cases. We take great pride in helping accident victims get financial compensation for their injuries and losses. Our years of experience and dedication offer accident victims, including pregnant women, skilled and qualified legal represenation. If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident while pregnant , please call us at (508) 879-3500 or contact us for a free meeting to discuss your claim.  Let us take care of the claim so you can focus on healing!