If you or your partner is pregnant, protecting your baby is likely your top concern. However, the world isn't always a safe place, and car accidents can pose a threat to women and their pregnancies. Whether you are a pregnant woman researching what to do in the event that you have an accident or someone who has already been the victim of a car accident while pregnant, there are several steps you should take to protect yourself and your baby physically, emotionally, and financially:
1. Seek Immediate Medical Help
As soon as possible after the accident, seek medical help. Even if you have only been fender-bended and you feel completely fine, contact your OB/GYN or midwife immediately to set up an appointment for that day. According to the American Family Physician, after a blunt force trauma (such as the type experienced in a car accident), 3.4 to 38 percent of all fetuses die, and in many cases, there are no symptoms that are easily discernible to the pregnant women. Even the mother is at risk after a blunt force trauma, and this type of injury is the number one cause of non-obstetric maternal death.
2. Establish Negligence And Find Witnesses
After a car accident, you may face car repair expenses, medical expenses, lost time at work and other financial and emotional issues. If you are pregnant, you may suffer from potentially expensive or emotionally devastating issues including miscarriage, preterm labor or placenta abruption. If you can prove that another driver's negligence caused the accident, you can hold that driver or their insurance company financially responsible.
Collect the name and insurance information from the other driver, but also, remember to collect names and numbers from any potential witnesses. When you are trying to prove that the other driver was negligent, the voices of witnesses can be essential, especially if they saw the other driver speeding, driving under the influence, running a stop light or breaking another rule of the road. If you are pregnant, ideally, your partner or another passenger should complete this step for you while you seek medical attention.
3. Document All Medical Issues
After being seriously bumped or jolted in a car accident, the fetus may sustain injuries which can only be assessed with an ultrasound or through an exam with an internal fetal monitor. Although your doctor or midwife should retain records of everything anyway, make extra sure that they maintain all of the readings, x-rays and data they collect after the vehicular accident.
If possible, ask for copies of all records. If your fetus is injured or if you suffer a miscarriage after the accident, you may need to take the liable parties to court to cover your expenses and damages. In most cases, their lawyer will try to argue that your miscarriage or the fetal injuries coincidentally occurred near the time of the accident. To counteract that, you need medical records that can show causation rather than just correlation.
4. Investigate State Laws
When it comes to holding another party responsible for injuring your fetus or causing a miscarriage, the laws vary from state to state. To assess your rights, contact an attorney to talk about the laws in your state. For example, in Colorado, if a wanted pregnancy is terminated by another person, the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act allows attorneys to hold the responsible parties criminally liable, but in Maryland, the government bans wrongful death suits for the loss of a fetus.
5. Consider Maternal Suffering
Even if your state does not allow you to bring civil or criminal charges against a driver who caused your pregnancy to end, you may be able to make other claims against the driver. A skilled car accident attorney can help you create a case around maternal suffering. For example, an attorney can argue that the loss of your baby caused you to miss work, have a reduced quality of life or suffer emotional issues including depression or PTSD.
For more information, consult a firm like Breslin & Breslin/lawyers.