Can Pregnancy Affect a Car Accident Claim?

Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of joy and anticipation. Unfortunately, a study conducted by the University of Michigan shows that an average of 170,000 pregnant women are involved in motor vehicle accidents every year. For those who are expecting, car accident injuries can be particularly catastrophic. If the collision was caused by another driver’s negligence, an expectant mother is entitled to pursue damages for any injuries to her and her unborn baby, and the experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. 

How Can an Unborn Baby Be Injured in a Car Accident?

There are multiple ways a fetus could be injured in a car accident, including: 

  • Blunt Force: If the mother’s stomach makes sudden contact with a hard surface, such as a steering wheel, it could injure the baby
  • Unexpected Stops: Sudden stops can jolt the baby inside the womb, lead to a detached placenta 
  • Maternal injuries: If the mother is injured, it could harm the fetus, particularly if there is catastrophic blood loss  
  • Seat belt injuries: If mom does not wear her seat belt properly, it could cause injuries to both her and the baby in the event of a crash
  • Stress: Stress arising from an accident can cause maternal tachycardia which can affect the baby 
  • Chemicals: If hazardous materials or chemicals are present during an accident, they could harm the mother and the baby

Can a Deploying Airbag Harm an Unborn Baby?

Yes, a fetus could be injured by contact with a deploying airbag. In order to protect vehicle passengers during a collision, airbags deploy rapidly and with great force. Unfortunately, the amount of force they exert can be too great for a baby still in utero. If a deployed airbag makes contact with a pregnant woman’s abdomen, it could result in blunt-force trauma injuries, potentially harming the baby.  

Common Car Accident Injuries Sustained by Pregnant Women

Car accidents can lead to numerous injuries and medical complications for expectant mothers and their babies. Some of the most common are: 

  • Birth defects
  • Pre-term labor
  • Miscarriages
  • High-risk pregnancies
  • Coup and contrecoup injuries
  • Fetal trauma
  • Placental abruption
  • Emotional trauma 
  • Broken bones

Although a great deal of engineering and thought go into developing and improving vehicle safety features for kids, fetal protection is virtually nonexistent. Even airbags, which were created to protect most vehicle occupants, can injure or even kill a fetus during a car crash. Even accidents that take place at low speeds can produce enough impact force to cause a pregnant woman to miscarry, or sustain multiple serious injuries.

Can Pregnancy Be Affected By a Minor Car Accident?

Yes, even a minor collision in which no adults are injured can cause injury to an unborn baby. This could be due to:

  • Shaking: If a baby is shaken inside the womb due to a jolt or unanticipated stop, it could result in placental abruption  
  • Stress: Maternal stress brought on by the accident can impact the oxygen and blood flow to the fetus  
  • Seat belt pressure: A seat belt, especially one that isn’t worn correctly, can exert undue pressure on the mother’s abdomen causing injury to the fetus 

Can I Sue for Emotional Trauma for Fetal Injuries Caused by a Car Accident?  

Depending on the circumstances of the incident, you might be eligible to collect financial compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident. Pain and suffering refers to the physical pain and emotional trauma you experienced due to someone else’s negligence. In order to receive damages for pain and suffering, you will have to prove they were a direct result of the accident. For instance, you may be entitled to recovery for the physical pain you endured while recovering from an emergency C-Section. If your injuries caused you to miscarry, you might be eligible for emotional damages if you can prove to the insurance carrier, or convince a jury, of your post-miscarriage anguish. 

Was Your Pregnancy Affected by a Car Accident?

If you were injured in a car accident, whether or not you were pregnant, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. In one recent case, we secured a $3.5 million jury award for a client after she was stuck head-on by a drunk driver. If you are seeking reliable legal advice regarding a potential car accident case, contact the experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp for a free case evaluation by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out our contact form. We have offices in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Hampton.