Any type of car crash can be a traumatic experience. If you are in a crash while pregnant, however, there are other risks to consider. Most especially, how will the trauma of the crash affect your unborn child?
At Schmidt Kramer, we understand the valid concerns you may have for your own health and that of your unborn child. In this article, we address some of the questions we have received about the effect a car crash could have on a pregnant mother and unborn child.
Injured in a Pennsylvania crash while pregnant? Our car crash attorneys in Harrisburg are compassionate and have extensive experience helping the injured. Contact our law offices anytime, night or day, to request a free consultation. We are here to help you.
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Immediate Steps To Take After a Crash
Much like any collision, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. Be sure to notify the dispatcher that you are pregnant and how far along you are. This call helps to get first responders and medical professionals to the scene faster.
Other critical first steps to take:
- Move your vehicle: If your injuries or your vehicle do not prevent this, move your vehicle off the road and away from traffic.
- Stay inside your vehicle: Only exit if your vehicle is on fire or there is another emergent reason to do so. If you do get out of the vehicle, check for traffic first, then move away from your vehicle, but not in the direction of moving traffic.
- Seek immediate medical attention: This is for the sake of your own health and that of your unborn infant. Even if you do not see external signs of anything wrong, you could have sustained internal injuries. Having a full medical exam of yourself and your unborn child will ensure you get the care you need more quickly, and it will also give you peace of mind to know everything is okay.
Symptoms That May Indicate a Serious Pregnancy Complication After a Crash
Even if you do not see any visible signs of an injury and even if you believe the crash was only minor, you should always get checked out at the hospital after a crash. You want to be sure you tell your doctor that you were in a crash, that you are pregnant, and any symptoms you are experiencing, such as:
- Pain in your pelvic area
- Any vaginal bleeding
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea and/or vomiting that is different from morning sickness
- Sudden and severe headaches
- Abdominal pain
- Painful urination
- Any change in your unborn baby’s movements
- Fever and chills
When Is a Pregnant Woman Most At Risk of Injury From a Car Crash?
Studies show that there is less risk to an unborn baby for a pregnant woman involved in a crash during the first trimester. However, this of course depends on the severity of the crash. The further along you are with your pregnancy, the greater the risk for pregnancy and delivery complications to arise.
High-risk complications and damages that could occur during the second or third trimester include:
Pregnant women who suffer injuries in a car crash have a higher risk of going into maternal shock. This serious and potentially life-threatening condition may occur as the result of trauma from a car crash. In this state, there is an insufficient supply of blood and oxygen to the body’s vital organs. This could result from various external or internal physical injuries.
It is possible for an unborn infant to suffer physical injury in the womb, however direct fetal injury occurs in less than ten percent of crashes involving pregnant drivers or passengers.
Placental abruption is a far greater risk to an unborn baby. It is the most common cause of a fetal fatality from a traffic accident than any other injury. In high-impact collisions, there is a 30 to 50 percent risk for a placental abruption. In minor, low-impact crashes, the risk is far less at five percent. If this injury occurs, it usually means an emergency C-section to try to protect the baby.
This rare but extremely dangerous pregnancy complication could occur if something causes the uterus to tear away or rupture. This complication very seldom happens in car crashes, however. A sudden increase in pressure from a seat belt or deployed airbag on a pregnant woman’s abdomen could cause it to happen. This does not mean a pregnant woman should not use a seat belt. This injury could also occur if a pregnant woman is unbelted and strikes either the steering wheel or is pushed into the dashboard on impact. As rare as this complication is, the risk is far less when you are properly buckled in with a seat belt.
Are Car Crashes a Common Cause of Miscarriages and Other Pregnancy Losses?
The trauma caused by the impact of a car crash is not just a common cause, it is one of the leading causes of pregnancy injuries, losses and complications in the U.S. Over 200,000 pregnant women suffer injuries in car crashes every year. There are approximately 3,000 to 5,000 fetal fatalities resulting from the trauma of a traffic accident.
Should I Avoid Wearing a Seat Belt While Pregnant?
Absolutely not. We do not recommend ever driving in the car without your seat belt properly fastened.
While seat belts can sometimes cause harm to a pregnant mother and her unborn child, it is rare. Studies show that you are much more likely to suffer severe injuries if you travel without using your seat belt. That said, you should be sure that you are properly bucked in. For example, do not remove the shoulder harness and place it behind your head. Worn properly, your seat belt and shoulder harness help to distribute the pressure during a crash across the stronger areas of your upper body.
Should I Turn Off My Airbag While Pregnant?
A deploying airbag could potentially cause a pregnant woman and/or her fetus harm if it deploys unexpectedly or with significant force into the abdomen. However, as with seat belts, you are far less likely to suffer severe injuries without an airbag.
How Can I Protect My Unborn Baby While Driving?
Once you get into your second and third trimester, you may want to avoid traveling in a car. However, if you are continuing to work or cannot avoid it for other reasons, there are steps you can take to drive or ride in a vehicle more safely.
Ride With Experienced Drivers
Make it a habit to ride in vehicles with experienced drivers who are not reckless and who also routinely adhere to traffic laws. For instance, if you have a friend who always tries to beat a yellow traffic light, you may want to refrain from riding with that person.
Follow Traffic Laws and Drive Defensively
If you drive yourself, be sure to follow traffic laws and drive defensively when you are the driver. Some examples include, not rushing through a yellow or red traffic light and allowing adequate space between your vehicles and others on the road.
Follow safety tips to wear your seat belt properly, which means:
- Do not travel in older vehicles that have no seat belts or only a lap belt.
- Make sure you place the shoulder belt in the middle of your chest and to the side of your belly. Properly positioned, the belt should fall across the center of your chest and shoulder, but away from your neck.
- Do not put the seat belt under your arm, or behind your arm or neck.
- Make sure the lap belt is secured under your belly, sitting low on your hips.
- Do not ever place the lap belt or let it rest across or above your stomach.
- To adjust the belt, it should fit snugly, but comfortably. Warm up your car before getting into it in winter, as wearing a heavy coat while driving could cause your belt to not fit you properly.
Call a Trusted Lawyer if You Are in a Crash While Pregnant
At Schmidt Kramer, we have been helping injured victims for decades. We have extensive experience, as well as the staff and resources to get the results you need.
We want you to be able to focus on your recovery, knowing that your legal rights and best interests are in safe hands. Our firm has the same goal as you do after a crash: to recover the maximum possible compensation for your medical costs, lost wages and other losses.
Your initial consultation is completely free, and there are no upfront costs or fees to pay if we represent you. Contact our law offices 24/7 to learn if you may have legal options.
Proven Results. Call: (717) 727-1403 today.