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Your Legal Rights if You’re in a Car Accident While Pregnant

Texas law gives legal recourse to both mothers and babies

Getting into a car accident is frightening under any circumstances, but it’s even scarier when you’re carrying a child. Any injury while pregnant has a chance of causing complications or even a miscarriage, and the sheer force of a car crash can be especially dangerous for both mothers and babies.

That’s why expectant mothers who are hurt in car accidents need to know their legal rights. If you were involved in a car accident while pregnant, an experienced car accident attorney can advise you of your options.

A car accident while pregnant can cause brain damage to the fetus and other complications

While the womb does an excellent job of protecting a fetus, it can only do so much to protect against the impact of a car wreck. In particular, the trauma of a car accident can increase the risk of placental abruption, a serious complication where the placenta gets separated from the uterus. Placental abruption can stop the unborn baby from getting oxygen or nutrients, which can cause permanent brain damage.

Other serious pregnancy complications that can be caused or exacerbated by car accidents include preeclampsia, pre-term labor, and internal bleeding. Unfortunately, car crashes can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths.

The risk of severe complications increases the further you are into pregnancy – that is, a car accident in the second trimester is more dangerous than in the first, and a car accident in the third trimester is more dangerous still. High speed is also an important factor. However, even a low-impact car accident while pregnant has the potential to cause serious complications.

It’s even more important for pregnant women to see a doctor right away

Anyone involved in a car accident, even a minor rear-end accident, should seek prompt medical attention. That’s only more critical during pregnancy since you’re not only concerned for your own health but also the health of the fetus. Some car accident injuries may not even be noticeable to the mother while posing a serious threat to the baby.

Some key warning signs of pregnancy complications after a car accident include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Urinary problems
  • Swelling of the face or the extremities (hands and feet)
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Neck and back pain
  • Bruising on the chest or belly
  • Changes in fetal movement

If you’re involved in a car accident while pregnant, get checked out by emergency responders at the scene, then see a doctor as soon as possible. That may mean seeing your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN) about any possible pregnancy complications as well as your primary care physician (PCP) to take care of your own health. This is not only the safest option for both mother and baby but also creates a record of your injuries and treatment to support a potential legal case.

The cost of a car accident while pregnant can be high

While there is no single average settlement for a car accident while pregnant, pregnancy can absolutely increase the cost of a car crash and thus the value of your claim. Some of these potential costs include:

  • Pregnant women are more likely to require hospitalization, even just as a precaution to monitor the fetus for complications.
  • Medical equipment may be needed to monitor the fetal heart rate and other potential warning signs.
  • Multiple emergency room visits may be needed. Your doctor will likely advise you to go straight to the ER if you experience any symptoms that could indicate a serious complication.
  • You may lose income if the combination of pregnancy and crash-related injuries makes you unable to work, or if bed rest is recommended to prevent complications.
  • Additional in-home services may be required if the combination of pregnancy and other crash-related injuries makes you unable to care for children or perform other tasks at home.
  • If the car accident causes certain complications, the baby may need to be born by cesarean section (C-section) instead of vaginally – which incurs both the cost of the surgery itself and a longer recovery time.
  • The emotional impact of a car accident during pregnancy can be higher than in other car accidents, due to the added anxiety or fear of harm to the baby.

In addition, if the car accident causes permanent injuries to your baby (such as brain damage), the cost of a lifetime of care for those injuries should be accounted for in your claim.

Understanding your legal options after a car accident during pregnancy

As with any other car accident, pregnant women injured in a car accident in Texas can file a third-party insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party. You can pursue compensation for a wide range of losses due to the accident, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages and lost future income
  • Replacement services
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Property damage

If the car accident caused a miscarriage or stillbirth, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In Texas, the parents of an unborn child can file a wrongful death claim for the loss of the fetus at any point during pregnancy, so long as the death was not caused by the mother (if she’s at fault) or by medical malpractice.

Likewise, if a pregnant woman is killed after being rear-ended in a car accident, a wrongful death claim can be filed for both the mother and the unborn baby. The statute of limitations (legal deadline) is generally two years from the date of death.

However, just because you can take legal action doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a recovery. Winning a car accident case requires an in-depth investigation, including both evidence from the crash scene and proof of the extent of your injuries. You may need to hire an OB-GYN or another medical expert to explain how the impact of the crash affected your pregnancy. These are high-stakes cases that the insurance company fights hard, and you need the right legal representation to fight back.

Smith & Hassler is proud to stand up for women and families

Texas law provides legal recourse for people hurt by the negligence of others, and that protection is especially vital during pregnancy. We have the experience and resources to build strong cases on behalf of expectant mothers and unborn children hurt in car accidents. Our attorneys investigate, negotiate, and if necessary, litigate for maximum compensation while you focus on healing and rebuilding your life.

If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident during pregnancy, you need to talk to a lawyer who knows how to navigate complex cases as soon as possible. Contact us online for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a car accident attorney at Smith & Hassler.

Click here to download a printable version of this article, "Your Legal Rights if You’re in a Car Accident While Pregnant."

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