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IN SETTLEMENTS & VERDICTS
Any car accident can be traumatic for those involved but when you’re carrying a child, the stakes are even higher in Texas.
Comprehensive medical check-ups and appropriate care are a necessity. Complications with pregnancy are common after such accidents and you need urgent medical attention even if you don’t feel injured in the immediate aftermath,
After you’ve received medical treatment, your thoughts may turn to your damages claim if the car accident was the fault of a negligent party.
You may be entitled to significant compensation as an expectant mother — but claiming what you’re due is no straightforward matter, as insurance companies typically play hardball.
It’s important to understand your legal rights and not to settle for less than you deserve. Here’s what you need to know if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation…
What pregnancy injuries are possible from a car accident?
The forces at play in any car accident collision are powerful and the possible injuries that can result are numerous.
For pregnant women, the risks are great for the fragile life that they are carrying, making the situation even more serious and often adding considerably to the medical costs involved.
Regardless of the type of injury, urgent medical attention is essential as rapid treatment can save the life of the baby (and the mother, in some cases).
Typically, car accidents result in the following types of pregnancy injuries:
Preterm birth, also known as “premature birth”, occurs when a baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. This can lead to disabilities or, in the worst cases, the death of the fetus.
Preterm births are common in Texas, with roughly 10 percent of babies born prematurely. For pregnant women in car accidents, the risk increases greatly but urgent medical care may be able to prevent it.
A placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the mother’s uterus before birth, greatly increasing the risk of the baby being lost.
The impact of a collision can cause abdominal trauma for a pregnant woman, leading to this serious and potentially devastating condition.
After a car accident, a pregnant woman’s condition may need close monitoring over an extended period, increasing the inconvenience and the medical costs for the mother.
This is because the expectant mother may be classified as a “high-risk pregnancy”, the same classification used for pregnant women with pre-existing medical conditions.
One of the bodily changes that a pregnant woman endures is an enlarged uterus (womb). During a car accident, the woman may experience a forceful impact that damages the uterus, which can threaten the life of both the child and the expectant mother.
For instance, uterine rupture almost always leads to the death of the fetus and one in ten mothers dies.
The fetus in the uterus is protected by amniotic fluid. However, the type of extreme abdominal trauma that a pregnant woman can experience in a car collision can lead to miscarriage.
Safety tips for pregnant women travelling by car
A few basic safety tips can help pregnant women travel more safely in cars on Texas roads:
- Always wear a seatbelt — this applies to all car drivers and passengers, not only pregnant women,
- Use a seatbelt with a lap belt AND shoulder strap — never use the lap belt across your midriff.
- Place the lap belt under your stomach and across your upper thighs.
- Position the shoulder strap across the center of your chest, securing you to the seat comfortably.
- Keep a ten-inch distance minimum between your body and the dashboard/steering wheel.
The simple seatbelt tips can help pregnant women stay safe and avoid serious injury to themselves and their babies in car accidents.
What are the extra financial costs of pregnancy injuries?
Car accidents often create concerns with finances as well as health. Because of the extra complications that may result for expectant mothers, the financial costs of an accident may be higher than for other victims.
In addition to the need for hospitalization following the accident, extra costs may include:
- The costs of medical care and extra observation of the fetus immediately after the accident.
- Classification as a “high-risk” pregnancy and the extra costs of medical care/monitoring.
- Lost wages from the inability of a pregnant woman to return to work once classified as “high risk”.
- Costs of early delivery of the baby and neonatal care if necessary.
- Long-term costs associated with raising a child with disabilities or birth defects resulting from the accident.
These extra financial costs for pregnant women may mean that you’re due extra compensation — but they are not the only costs to consider after an accident.
Emotional damages from a pregnancy injury
The shock of an accident can lead to emotional issues for any victim but, for pregnant women, the issues may be amplified — not least because of the normal stresses and anxiety associated with pregnancy.
Injuries to the mother and the risk of injuries to the baby often cause considerable distress for families. If so, you may be able to claim compensation for the extra emotional suffering caused.
Insurance companies may dispute the non-economic losses included in claims. “Pain and suffering” can be expensive and loss adjusters usually try to downplay this aspect of the losses after accidents.
It’s best to enlist the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to advise you on how to proceed with this.
Additional legal options after a car accident while pregnant
With any car accident where another party has acted negligently or recklessly, a range of damages is available for a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Pregnant women, as you’ve seen, can claim many different economic and non-economic damages: from medical expenses and lost wages to pain and suffering and emotional distress.
In the worst-case scenario, when a pregnant woman loses her unborn baby due to the accident, a wrongful death lawsuit can also be filed in Texas. However, if the accident was the fault of the mother or medical malpractice, no lawsuit can be filed,
If a pregnant woman and her unborn baby are killed in an accident, a lawsuit can be filed against the at-fault party by the family for both deaths.
However, winning fair compensation in a car accident claim is no simple matter and is best left to an experienced personal injury attorney — whether or not the victim is pregnant.
For pregnant women, where the risks and potential damages are often higher, it’s doubly important to seek legal advice before claiming.
Contact the DeHoyos Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation to evaluate your car accident injury case.