Pregnancy Injuries in Car Accidents

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If you’ve been in a car accident while you were pregnant, you understand the terror that grips you any time you see a potential collision looming ahead. When you’re pregnant, or your passenger is carrying a child, you flinch when you see somebody fail to stop at a stop sign, or a car that doesn’t signal a lane change? You are rightfully worried about potential injury or death to your littlest passenger.

In this article we will answer some questions that are common ones relating to pregnancy injuries in car crashes. We’ll talk about whether or not it’s possible to recover for injuries inflicted upon an unborn child. We’ll let you know how the law in Georgia strives to protect the rights of the unborn in car accidents. We’ll also touch on how Georgia law can help victims to cope with the unthinkable circumstances that come when a baby dies as the result of somebody else’s negligence.

  • What steps should a pregnant woman follow after a car accident?
  • What if my pregnant passenger feels fine after the accident? Does she still need to see a doctor?
  • Does an unborn baby have the right to claim damages in a car crash?
  • Because of the accident, my wife needs complete bed rest – who will pay for the extra care?
  • What if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover these damages?
  • Our baby was born prematurely as a result of the accident and died almost immediately. What can we do?
  • What steps should a pregnant woman follow after a car accident?

If you are pregnant, or if your passenger is expecting a child, it is very important that you take extra care following the accident to safeguard the baby’s life and the health of the mother.

The human body is an amazingly effective machine. Even more astonishing is the systems in place when the human body is that of a pregnant woman. It is, on the whole, not easy to disrupt a healthy, normal pregnancy. A pregnant woman’s body can effectively shield her unborn child in many cases like falls, or minor body blows. Women have been living normal lives and carrying babies to term for eons. Unfortunately, there are deadly risks to unborn babies and their mothers present in today’s world that were not dreamed of 200 years ago. Riding in a vehicle travelling at even 25 mph can become deadly to the unborn when a sudden, crashing stop creates forceful physical impacts to the mother and child. When you add to that the other forces like the airbag and seatbelt impacts, it’s easy to see how a tiny infant can be dislodged from the safe environment of the womb.

Among the most common and deadliest injuries to pregnant women is placental abruption. This happens when the placenta in which the baby is growing, separates from the uterine wall, stopping or hindering the blood and oxygen flow to the baby. Placental abruption can cause pre-mature labor, hemorrhage and even death for both mother and child.

Other complications can include internal bleeding, pre-term labor, miscarriage, and/or premature birth. Any of these things can pose a threat to the mother and child creating a high-risk pregnancy in which the mother may not even be allowed out of bed. Subsequent birth defects are also possible.

The first most important step a pregnant woman can take following an auto accident is to get medical help immediately. A thorough medical examination and tests like an ultrasound can verify the condition of the child so that any intervention necessary can begin immediately. Wasted time in cases like this can lead to the death of the infant as well as further injury or even death to the mother.

  • What if my pregnant passenger feels fine after the accident? Does she still need to see a doctor?

One of the most effective reactions your body has to a stressful situation is what doctors and scientists call the stress response. When you are threatened, as in a car accident, your body does several things right away. The first thing is to pump the hormone adrenaline into the system in order to give you the strength and stamina to protect yourself from further injury. This adrenaline rush can make you feel as if you’re bulletproof – that you could take on the world and win. (This reaction is also called the fight or flight response since it is your body’s way of preparing to fight off predators or, in the alternative, to outrun them.) Part of the job of the adrenaline rush is to mask any pain you may already be having so that you can get yourself out of harm’s way quickly.

Your pregnant passenger may feel just fine, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t injured. Job number one is to get her to the doctor immediately for a thorough examination.

  • Does an unborn baby have the right to claim damages in a car crash?

This is a tricky bit of the law that is under discussion across the country for a number of reasons. When does a fetus become a human being? In Georgia, the baby becomes a person when it “quickens.” This term refers to the time when the mother can feel the baby moving within her and generally happens between the 10th week and the 4th month of pregnancy. (In some states, the unborn child only has rights if it would survive outside the mother’s body.) In Georgia, as long as mom can feel the baby kicking, it is a person with all the rights associated with personhood. This includes the right to recover from damages as a result of an automobile crash. (A thorough discussion on this subject can be found here.)

Either way, before the baby is born, it is treated as part of the mother’s body and is entitled to any treatment necessary.

Recovering for injuries sustained by the baby as a separate individual will require that the mother can establish that “quickening” has happened and the infant is, indeed, a person. Then those injuries will be treated – and presumably recovered for – as any other injuries sustained by anyone else in the accident.

  • Because of the accident, my wife needs complete bed rest – who will pay for the extra care?

In Georgia, the at-fault is meant to bear the burden of his/her negligence. This means that the insurance company is expected to pay for any medical care necessitated by the accident. All additional care, hospitalization, or continuing bed rest should ultimately be paid by the at-fault driver.

  • What if the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance to cover these damages?

Underinsured motorists are part of our lives even though the law in Georgia tries to alleviate the problem by setting liability insurance standards. Sometimes the at-fault driver simply doesn’t carry a sufficiently large policy to cover all the damages. That doesn’t change his responsibility. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have the insurance coverage to pay for the damages, your attorney will look for alternative ways for him to fund your care.

Sometimes it’s the at-fault driver’s homeowner’s insurance policy that covers the gap between the liability insurance limits and the full cost of damages. In some cases, your attorney may tap into your own un-insured motorist policy to be able to fund your medical care. (In which case, your insurance company may sue the at-fault driver for the costs later.) There are other creative ways to make sure the liability is satisfied. The solution to such problems is to find the best personal injury lawyer you can to handle your claim.

  • Our baby was born prematurely as a result of the accident and died almost immediately. What can we do?

This is the saddest of all possible outcomes. When an infant pays the ultimate price for a grown-up’s negligence it is outrageous and bitterly unfair. When a baby loses its life as the result of an avoidable accident, the at-fault driver should expect to be part to a wrongful death claim in addition to the accident claim and pay for both.

Wrongful death claims are filed separately from the accident claim and are much more complicated. Attorneys will be tasked with assigning a value to the life of the child – a monumentally difficult task which can probably never be done in any satisfying way. Nevertheless, there are procedures for doing this that have been working for decades in spite of the difficulty. When all is said and done, family members of the child will ultimately be awarded a settlement to help ease the pain and loss.

Once again, the key to moving forward with a wrongful death claim is to have an attorney you trust thoroughly and can rely upon without reservation.

Finding such a reliable personal injury lawyer can be a daunting task. If you open the phone book, or read the highway billboards you realize that there are many attorneys who practice personal injury law. Each of them promises to get you the award to which you’re entitled. How can you know which one is the most reliable?

Your own instincts are often the best guide. We suggest that you meet with several law firms before you select the attorney to represent you. When it comes to personal injury, most firms offer a free initial consultation. At this meeting the attorneys will be able to review the facts in your case and offer you some valuable information such as about how long the claim(s) will take and about how much the settlement amount will be.

The most important thing you’ll be looking for in this meeting is the way you are treated and made to feel by the lawyers and their staff. It is critical that you feel comfortable and able to place your trust in the legal team you select. Ultimately, as the claim moves toward settlement, these people will be offering guidance and advice about the way in which this important chapter of your life is concluded. You need to know that your best interests are well represented.


Cite this paper

Pregnancy Injuries in Car Accidents. (2021, Mar 28). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/pregnancy-injuries-in-car-accidents/

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