Pregnancy should be an exciting time for expectant mothers, and they take great care in ensuring their baby is in good health. But traumatic events still happen; the experience of a personal injury while pregnant can be extremely stressful and expensive. A pregnant woman who is injured from the negligence of another takes on a whole new set of factors that must be considered when negotiating with insurance carriers to help settle her case.
Car accidents are the major example. A car crash may cause little to no harm to the mother but could be serious for the baby. Because of this, additional fetal tests and monitoring occur, and the mother may experience emotional trauma in several and prolonged ways. Placental abruption, fetal loss, premature contractions, and premature delivery are all real risks and are important considerations.
What causes traumatic injuries while pregnant?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), motor vehicle accidents are the most common, causing 50% of all trauma experienced by pregnant women, with 82% of fetal deaths caused by car crashes. Other common injuries occur from a slip and fall, which may cause further harm to an unborn child. It is important to recognize that the AAFP found that fetal injury and loss occur in 60-70% of minor traumas.
What might be insignificant to the mother or other individuals in comparable situations could have serious fetal implications. On top of immediate treatment, the injury may lead to further struggles throughout the pregnancy. These factors reinforce the necessity and validity of increased settlements for traumatic injuries while pregnant.
Medical complications of trauma while pregnant
Medical complications with pregnancies have many factors to take into consideration. The level and type of trauma are considered along with the stage of pregnancy as well. For example, the baby is more naturally protected in car accidents earlier in the pregnancy, but later, unborn babies are more exposed, and other types of injuries may occur. Extra doctor visits throughout the pregnancy may be required after a personal injury.
It is not always obvious to the mother that something is wrong with the baby after experiencing trauma, so immediate assessment is needed. Careful monitoring by a doctor ensures the baby is not in distress, and since it is common for trauma to cause contractions or mimic contractions, additional monitoring must occur. Preterm labor can be induced because of personal injuries and cause increased risks for the baby and mother. Thankfully, there are ways doctors can stop preterm labor in many cases.
Often Tocolytic medicines are used to slow or completely stop contractions. Bed rest and stitching of the cervix are also strategies to prevent preterm labor. If labor cannot be stopped, early delivery may occur. If the baby is less than 34 weeks, they will need specific medical treatments, including those that help with crucial lung development in premature babies.
How pregnancy, when injured, affects your personal injury case
Personal injury cases are valued higher by insurance carriers if a woman is pregnant at the time of her injury, and there is a good reason for this. In Virginia, a person who is injured by the negligence of another has a right to recover (amongst other things) reasonable medical costs along with the mental anguish, pain, and suffering associated with the injury.
A pregnant woman who is injured in a car crash or fall has to deal with her own personal suffering and deal with the additional mental anguish of fearing for her unborn child’s safety and health. This anguish is only exacerbated if there are complications resulting from an injury.
Numerous factors influence these cases, including whether the baby had trauma, if premature or an emergency delivery was required, and if the baby had birth defects caused by the injury. Medical costs are also higher because both mother and baby need to be assessed after an injury. The additional doctor visits, complications, and treatment all add to the cost of traumatic injuries while pregnant, and insurance companies recognize this.
Premature birth caused by an injury could mean an extended hospital stay, surgeries, and unplanned but necessary life-saving treatments for the baby. These unexpected medical bills can be quite costly. The cost of having a baby in the U.S. is already high, especially without health insurance. In Virginia, the cost of a C-section without health insurance is around $18,000 versus $10,000 for natural births. If the mother had originally planned to deliver vaginally, the cost difference would be a considerable unexpected expense. Settlements for personal injuries for pregnant women help manage these unexpected costs.
If you are injured during pregnancy, make sure you know your legal rights and what you are entitled to before settling any cases with an insurance company. Insurance carriers might offer some settlement amount from the start, but it almost certainly will not fully compensate you for what you are entitled to. With any injury caused by another party, especially if the injured person is pregnant, it is worth contacting a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to help you understand possible legal options.
If you or a loved one has been injured while pregnant, feel free to contact an attorney at Curcio Law. Give us a call or text us at 703-836-3366, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.curiciolaw.com.
Justin Curcio joined Curcio Law in January 2020. Justin received his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in 2015. After passing the Virginia Bar in 2015, Justin was in-house counsel for an insurance defense firm (Allstate/Esurance/Encompass) for over four years before joining Curcio Law. During law school, he worked for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the law firm of Bartlett, McDonough & Monaghan, LLP. Contact Justin at email@example.com.