Involved in a Car Accident When Pregnant Women? Here’s What to Do
An expecting mother’s worst nightmare is losing her beloved unborn child.
Being so close to becoming a mother only to lose your infant due to a car accident is heartbreaking.
This is why it’s so important to take the proper steps when you’re involved in a car accident while pregnant. Not only are you looking for compensation for your injuries, but medical attention for you and your unborn child.
So if you were in a car accident while pregnant, you can use the following guide to ensure you do what’s best for you and your baby.
First, we’ll review what you should do immediately after an auto accident.
Car Accidents Are the Leading Cause of Traumatic Fetal Deaths
Now, this should give you some insight into how important it is to get medical attention right after an auto accident. Women who are in a car accident while pregnant place their baby at risk by not doing so.
For instance, did you know that between 1 and 3 percent of live-born babies are in auto accidents while in utero? It’s important to note that car accidents are the leading cause of death for pregnant women. Plus, it’s the leading cause of death for women between 15 and 44.
Steps to Take When in a Car Accident While Pregnant
What you do immediately after an auto accident is crucial to the health of you and your unborn baby.
It’s essential to seek treatment, even if you feel the auto accident wasn’t that severe. So either go to a doctor or your OB/GYN to have everything checked out.
After an accident occurs, you have to deal with emotional stress and possible injuries. Both of these can increase the risk of harm to your unborn fetus.
In a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, you can sue for the emotional stress, as well as the injuries sustained. The amount of anxiety you may go through during this time may be extensive, especially if you end up in premature labor.
It doesn’t matter how far along you are – seek medical attention. Then reach out to an experienced car accident attorney.
Signs to Watch Out For
If you’re in your final trimester when you get in a car accident while pregnant, then you have various symptoms to watch for. These are telltale signs of something being very wrong with your baby.
Some of the issues you may run into right after a car accident while pregnant include:
- Premature birth
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leaking of vaginal fluid
- Loss of consciousness
- Umbilical cord protrusion
Then there are other symptoms that may appear days or weeks after a car accident while pregnant. This includes:
- Swelling of the face
- Swelling of the fingers
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pain in the abdomen
- Pain in the shoulder area
- Fever or chills
- Constant headaches
- Painful urination
- Vomiting not relating to morning sickness
- Painful urination
- Change in frequency of fetal movement
However, don’t take this as a comprehensive list of symptoms. Even if you don’t see these signs, there’s a possibility of something being wrong. So you don’t want to take any chances.
There are non-physical injuries you have to consider. For instance, a contra-coup injury, which is when you have a concussion or shock caused by a jolt or blow to another part of your body.
For example, when the car you’re riding in violently stops motion, jostling the baby in the womb. This can then cause a concussion to your fetus. Since the mother isn’t affected, it can go unnoticed unless treated by a physician after the accident.
Needless to say, the emotional trauma and physical injuries endured by you and your fetus can increase your medical bills. This means you can file a suit seeking compensation to cover your pain and suffering and medical expenses.
But before this can happen, you either have to go to trial or obtain a lawyer, who can reach a settlement with the other party. So don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel after you’ve been in a car accident while pregnant.
Now, let’s get into the legal matters surrounding such a case.
Filing a Claim Against the Other Driver
If you believe the other driver is at fault, or if the court finds the other driver at fault, you can file a claim against their insurance policy.
Louisiana adopted a “fault” system, which means the person at fault is financially responsible for the damages and injuries caused by the accident. The minimum coverage a driver is legally required to have is $15,000 per person for injuries or death. Then another $25,000 for property damage.
This is the minimum you’re able to recover from the insurance provider. Then if you need additional compensation, you can try recovering the remainder from the driver.
It’s best to have legal counsel at the time you draft your complaint. This is a brief explanation of your lawsuit (your complaint). Word this plainly, but use specific language so it’s clear. Again, having a legal representative will ensure your complaint is properly written.
Types of Lawsuits
Now, there are different types of lawsuits you can file against the other party. The most common is negligence. This works in auto accidents where the other driver ran into your vehicle from behind. The key is to prove the other driver failed to exercise reasonable care while operating their car.
It’s easier to prove this if the other driver was driving recklessly, intoxicated or broke traffic laws.
Then there are lawsuits for fatal car accidents. For instance, you are in a car accident while pregnant and your fetus dies. Or if you’re the spouse of the woman involved in the car accident while pregnant and she and the fetus dies.
In this case, a wrongful death lawsuit is in order. The surviving family members have the right to sue for loss of wages, funeral expenses and loss of companionship.
On the other hand, if the vehicle driven was defective and caused the accident, then you can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. However, to win this case, you have to prove the following:
- The defective vehicle or part was unreasonably dangerous
- The vehicle’s performance didn’t change since purchasing it
- You were operating the vehicle as intended
How Much Compensation Will You Receive?
After being in a car accident while pregnant, your first thought is to get compensated. This way, you can pay for the medical expenses for your injuries.
In the state of Louisiana, the amount you receive is determined by fault assigned to the parties. So if both parties are at fault, then your proportion determines how much you receive.
For example, if you are 10 percent at fault, then 10 percent of what you recover is reduced. Let’s say your medical bills are $1,000. In this instance, you’ll receive only $900 instead of the full $1,000.
Louisiana has a pure comparative negligence standard. What this means is you’re able to recover 1 percent even if you’re found 99 percent at fault for your own injury.
Now, that you have some idea of claims and compensation, it’s time to review what you have to do to increase your chances of winning your lawsuit.
Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do after you’re in a car accident while pregnant.
Don’t Leave the Scene of the Accident
If the law enforcement didn’t tell you it’s okay to leave, then you must stay at the scene of the accident. By leaving, you put yourself at risk of getting into legal trouble. For instance, if someone’s injured or deceased, you may end up with criminal charges.
If you’re not seriously injured and your vehicle is operational, turn on the hazard lights and move the car out of the way of traffic.
Call the Authorities and Get a Police Report
There are multiple reasons why you need a police report. For one, it acts as a valid piece of evidence for your legal case. Second, you’ll need it when filing your claim with your insurer.
The police report details what happened based on the eyewitness reports of both parties, as well as other witnesses.
If the other driver tries to convince you not to call the police, don’t listen. Even if it’s a minor accident, contact the authorities.
When you speak to the cops, never admit being at fault. Just explain what happened. Even if you believe you’re at fault, you may later learn you aren’t. So by admitting fault, you make it difficult to win your lawsuit.
Before leaving the scene, get the name and badge number of the officer writing the report, as well as the incident or item number. This way, your attorney can easily look up the report when it’s completed.
Exchange Insurance Information
Again, even if the accident is minor, it’s important to swap insurance information with the other driver. Other information you need is the name of the other driver, their phone numbers, and addresses (home and work).
The insurance details you need include the insurance company name, policy number, license plate number and make and model of the vehicle.
Gather Information from Witnesses
Eyewitnesses play a big role in providing unbiased versions of what happened. So before you leave the scene, gather the details of the eyewitnesses. Ask for their full name, home and work address, and numbers to their cell and workplace.
If needed, you can contact these witnesses and have them testify during a deposition or at the trial.
Take Photos of the Damage and Injuries
If your case ends up going to trial, it may be months down the road. By this time, your vehicle is fixed and injuries are healed or less severe.
So it’s necessary to capture the scene of the accident by taking photos of the injuries and damages.
Not Seeking Prompt Medical Attention
Not seeing a doctor after being in a car accident while pregnant can actually hurt your case. Just as you need a police report for proof, so shall you need a medical report. This will detail the extent of your injuries and prove your claims.
It’s very common for the other side to use it against you if you don’t seek medical attention. They may try and claim you’re fabricating your injuries.
For this reason, it’s also important to keep your doctor appointments after being in a car accident while pregnant. This will help your case and ensure you and your baby are fine. And if there are any issues found, the doctor will document it.
What You Can Do as a Passenger
The good news is you don’t have to be a driver to get compensation for your injuries. If you are in a car accident while pregnant as a passenger, you can file a claim against both drivers.
The insurer of whoever’s at fault will have to compensate you (if you win your lawsuit). Also, if you’re insured, you can also file a claim against your own policy.
This is ideal if you’re not getting enough from the drivers’ insurance policies. However, you should consult with an auto accident attorney to be sure. Keep in mind you’re only able to file a claim for the medical payments portion of your own policy.
So if you’re looking to get compensation for pain and suffering, then you’ll have to recover it from the other drivers’ policies.
Legal Assistance for Your Auto Accident
Whatever the circumstances of your car accident, it’s essential to get legal assistance. Right after an accident occurs, it’s essential to do three things: call the authorities, seek medical attention, and get in touch with a lawyer.
This will set you on the path to recovering compensation needed to pay for any damages or injuries you sustain. You have a better chance of winning your lawsuit if you have legal counsel.
So if you were in a car accident while pregnant, it’s time to speak with an attorney. At Babcock Partners, we have experienced lawyers who can help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation!