Risks to Pregnant Women and Unborn Babies in Car Accidents

accidents involving pregnant women

What you’ll learn reading this article:

  1. Pregnant women should take special care to safely drive or ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle during their pregnancy. 
  2. Car accidents can affect a pregnant mother as well as the unborn child in a variety of ways, resulting in unique compensation. 
  3. Pregnant women involved in car accidents should always alert their healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

Pregnancy can be a journey filled with overwhelming emotional ups and downs, from joyous expectations to worries about the health and safety of the unborn baby. Everything begins to be about the upcoming arrival of the baby, from plans to precautions.

And when a pregnant woman is involved in a car accident, the possibilities of injury not only revolve around the mother but also include the fetus.

Tips for Pregnant Drivers and Passengers

There is nothing inherently dangerous about driving or riding in a vehicle while pregnant, but accidents can happen. And because of some of the physical changes pregnant bodies endure, expectant mothers should always follow safety standards when in a moving vehicle, modified slightly for their changing bodies. This includes:

  1. Wearing a seat belt at all times.

Pregnant women should wear the lap belt portion of their seat belt beneath their belly, snug across their pelvic area. Do not put the lap portion of the seat belt over or across the belly. The shoulder belt should be worn as usual and may be tucked between the breasts. Do not put the shoulder belt behind your back or relocate it with an arm.

  1. Adjusting the seat.

Pregnant drivers should never let their belly touch the steering wheel, and should distance their seat as far as they are able to while still being able to safely steer, brake and press the gas pedal. Pregnant passengers are encouraged to move their seats as far back as possible to avoid possible contact with the dashboard should an accident occur. While some reclining may be necessary, pregnant women should avoid over-reclining their seat to allow the seat belt to remain snug across the chest.

  1. Leaving airbags turned on.

While it may seem counterintuitive, disabling airbags can actually cause more harm to the pregnant mother and unborn child if a crash occurs. They are designed to work in tandem with seat belts and should always be used as such.

If you are pregnant and feel uncomfortable driving, it can be safer to allow someone to drive you as impact with the steering wheel in the event of an accident can cause injuries to the fetus.  Additionally, in the late stages of pregnancy, when preterm labor and labor signs can occur without warning, it may be smart to ride rather than drive to avoid any distracted driving or surprises that could lead to an accident.

Injuries Unique to Pregnant Victims

Even when taking precautions, accidents can happen. Some of the unique injuries that pregnant women and their unborn babies can face due to car accidents include:

  • Premature labor.

Depending on the stage of pregnancy and the severity of the accident, a car crash can trigger premature labor in an expectant mother. While quick medical attention can help to stop this labor, it may lead to preterm birth.

  • Premature birth.

If labor is triggered by the accident, the hospital may be unable to stop the labor’s progression. In this case, the baby can be born preterm. Premature babies, depending on their gestational age, can have varying chances of survival outside of the womb. Those that do survive may also live with lifelong or temporary birth defects, cognitive impairment, or other physical and developmental disabilities.

  • Emergency cesarean section (C-section).

Emergency C-sections can be traumatic for both the mother and the child, and injuries can occur in both parties as well. If a mother is severely injured in a car accident or the baby is harmed and in duress, doctors may make the decision to deliver the baby early through surgical means.

  • Placental abruption.

A placental abruption occurs when the placenta, which provides nutrients and oxygen to the fetus, detaches from the wall of the uterus. Impact from a car accident could result in placental abruption, and pregnant women who suffer bleeding, fluid loss or symptoms of labor should be seen immediately.

  • Pregnancy loss.

Miscarriages are heartbreaking, and unfortunately can be the result of car accidents, especially severe ones. Impact with the steering wheel, lack of seat belt usage, severe injury to the mother or intense emotional duress in the mother can all lead to the loss of the unborn baby. 

If you’re pregnant and involved in a car accident—even a small fender-bender—it is advisable to alert your OB-GYN as soon as possible. Even if you don’t feel you suffered any injury, it is important to have your unborn baby looked at or its vitals taken to ensure no harm was done.

Compensation for Pregnant Victims

While traditional personal injury cases often seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and physical pain and suffering, in the case of pregnant mothers and unborn babies, other compensation may be sought in regards to the unborn baby depending on the situation. These may include:

  • Injury to the fetus and any medical expenses incurred due to this injury.
  • Future medical expenses related to the injury of the fetus.
  • Delivery complications.
  • Premature birth and complications.
  • Wrongful death of a viable fetus.

If you’re pregnant and have been injured in a car accident—or your unborn child has suffered injury—do not hesitate to get in touch with PBAR attorneys for a free case review.

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery—Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured physically or mentally by a person, product or company, you need to know your legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We will ensure that you are protected and compensated for your injuries and losses.

Why pay up to 40% in attorney fees? Our fee is only 25%*, and we fight to win your case or you pay no attorney fees at all. Don’t hesitate—one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away.

Call 800-265-9881 for a free case review.