Getting in a car accident is bad enough as it is. But getting in a car accident while pregnant is even worse.
For pregnant women, a car crash can cause placental abruption, internal bleeding, shaken baby syndrome, premature labor, mental and emotional distress, and even miscarriage. In fact, car accidents are the leading cause of fetal death and injury due to maternal trauma.
Even a low-impact car collision can cause serious damage to you and your baby. So it’s better to be extra cautious and prepared.
In this article, we’ll go over both ways to prevent car crash injuries to your baby and what to do once you’ve been in a car crash.
Let’s get started!
How to prevent injury to your baby in a car crash
Ideally, you want to avoid getting into any type of car accident while pregnant. Here’s how you can:
Wear a seatbelt—Wearing a seatbelt is driving safety 101, so hopefully you’re already in the habit of doing this. If not, start now. It’s extra important when you’re pregnant. Make sure it’s a three-point seatbelt with a shoulder and a lap belt. The shoulder belt should run between your breasts, and the lap belt should wrap below your belly, not in front or above it.
Drive defensively—The best way to avoid a car crash altogether is to drive defensively. This means driving below the speed limit, watching for road obstacles, staying alert, keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, using your turn signals, and always obeying traffic laws. If everyone followed these rules, there would be far fewer car accidents.
Eliminate distractions—In 2019, 424,000 people were injured and another 3,100 people were killed as a result of distracted driving. Don’t put your life on the line by taking your attention away from the road. That means don’t text, eat, drink, fiddle with the GPS or stereo, or do your makeup while behind the wheel. It’s not worth it, and your baby certainly doesn’t deserve the risk.
What to do after a car crash while pregnant
Say you already got in a car accident while pregnant. Here’s what you should do:
Stay calm—Car accidents can be traumatic experiences, but it’s important to stay calm. Panicking will only make the situation worse and could cause more harm to your baby if it gets out of hand. So take a second to breathe and collect yourself. Then exit the vehicle and get away from the danger.
Get medical attention—Whether you feel hurt or not, it’s important to get medical attention as soon as you can. Some injuries don’t show symptoms right away, so it’s better to be safe and get checked. When pregnant, any blow to your abdomen is cause for concern and could lead to a placental abruption. This is when your placenta separates from the inner wall of your uterus. It’s most common in the third trimester but could happen anytime after 20 weeks. If left untreated, it could lead to hemorrhage, premature labor, and even miscarriage. Get the medical treatment you need by heading to the ER immediately or calling 911 if you’re too injured to get there yourself.
Document your injuries—If you’re hurt, thoroughly document the injury to help your legal case. Insurance companies and courts will need to see proof of damages to you in order to reach an appropriate settlement. This can include photos, videos, medical bills, doctor’s notes, proof of unemployment, witness testimonies, and your own written or recorded audio notes about the incident. Keep all these documents in a safe place for when you need them.
Contact your insurance company—Insurance companies are known or wanting to award the smallest payout possible. So don’t give them any reason to minimize yours. The sooner you report the car accident, the better. Give them all the details but don’t admit any blame, or it will be held against you.
Consult an auto accident attorney—Recovering from a car accident (and all the aftermath) is a stressful ordeal, especially when pregnant. If you need help navigating the insurance claim and all the legal ramifications, consult an experienced auto accident attorney.They can help protect your rights (and those of your baby) and ensure you get the best possible resolution and payout.
The bottom line
Nobody plans to get in a car accident when pregnant. But even if you’ve done your best to avoid one, sometimes it just happens.
The best thing you can do is follow all of the steps above. No amount of money can make up for injury (or death) to your baby. But you can at least get the compensation you deserve to help with medical bills and trauma.