Were you and your unborn baby's lives put at risk in a car accident? Car crashes can quickly lead to a premature birth, increasing the risk for a host of adverse health complications, both for mother and her child. Our experienced attorneys can help.
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In some cases, traumatic accidents can come to impact the course of a mother's pregnancy. The major risk, after a car accident or fall, is premature birth.
Car Accidents While Pregnant: Risks & Legal Options
It's not as rare as you might expect. Sudden shocks and physical contortions, common during a traumatic incident, can trigger labor to begin, leaving little choice but to deliver the child immediately.
Car crashes, in particular, can increase the risk for pre-term birth and other serious pregnancy complications, including internal hemorrhage. In fact, car crashes are particularly dangerous for pregnant women; even minor fender benders can spell disaster. In a paper for the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, researchers from the University of Michigan explain that placental abruption, in which the placenta detaches from the uterine wall, occurs in between 1% to 5% of minor car crashes.
No matter how minor, any car accident can have catastrophic results for a growing family. Any one of these complications can threaten the lives of both child and mother. In tragic cases, a car accident or other traumatic accident can end in miscarriage.
Birth Injuries & Birth Trauma
Other children will be left to suffer severe birth injuries.
It's common, after a car accident, for an unborn child to be cut off, either temporarily or for a sustained period of time, from his or her oxygen supply. Prior to birth, oxygen deprivation can lead to numerous forms of brain damage, some of which can even lead to the debilitating neuromuscular disorder known as cerebral palsy, the leading cause of childhood disability in America.
Blunt force trauma can also cause injuries, both to a mother and to her unborn child, as the force of a crash or fall places undue pressure on the child's infant body.
Filing A Premature Birth Lawsuit After An Accident
In the wake of a traumatic accident, some mothers may be eligible to pursue legal action. Most obvious is the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the driver or drivers who caused your crash.
Car Accident Lawsuits
These car accident lawsuits are generally founded on the legal principle of negligence, the idea that drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles with a sufficient amount of care. Drivers who violate that duty can be held accountable for doing so in a lawsuit.
Examples Of Driver Negligence
Common allegations in a car crash accident include:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Road rage
- Violating traffic laws
But car accident lawsuits aren't the only type of legal claim borne of a traumatic accident.
Medical Malpractice Litigation
Some mothers will also be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If a doctor, nurse or EMS professional failed to handle the premature birth appropriately, a malpractice claim may be possible.
Like car accident lawsuits, malpractice claims are almost always based on the concept of negligence. In this context, medical negligence refers to a medical professional's failure to uphold the standard of care relevant to their profession.
In some cases, a premature birth can be avoided through patient and careful medical care; some parents lose out on this opportunity due to negligence. In other cases, an emergency C-section could be the right option. If doctors fail to perform a needed C-section, children can suffer severe injuries or even die.
All of these circumstances can be addressed in a medical malpractice lawsuit, when parents stand up for their family's future and demand financial compensation for the careless mistakes of doctors and nursing staff.
Risks & Complications Of Premature Birth
When traumatic accidents trigger a premature birth, the risks can be alarming. Premature children are more likely to suffer breathing problems, heart issues and brain disorders, including the dangerous form of internal bleeding called intraventricular hemorrhage, than children who are delivered full-term.
Preemies often develop patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, a heart disorder in which a hole in the heart fails to close. Severe PDA cases require surgical treatment. Premature babies are also more likely to develop asthma and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic disorder in which the lungs become inflamed and grow abnormally, March of Dimes reports.
Some babies who are born prematurely will develop necrotizing enterocolitis, a bacterial infection in the intestines and eats away at the intestine wall. Hearing loss is common in premature babies, as are dental issues, like delayed tooth growth, and infections of the lung and brain.
Wherever you look, the risks of a premature birth are clear. The risks of being involved in a traumatic accident while pregnant should be clear, too.
When Is A Birth Premature
The average pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks. A baby is premature if it is born earlier than 37 weeks, beginning from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period.
Babies who are born very premature, around 32 weeks, are often unable to feed themselves or breath on their own. Most children born at this point will require extensive treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of a hospital.
Watching your child receive treatment in an NICU for weeks, and feeling helpless all the while, is a terrible experience that no parent should have to go through.
Additional Effects Of Being Pregnant In A Car Crash
Being in a car accident or fall increases the chances that your pregnancy will be considered high-risk, which can lead to increased anxiety on the part of parents. In the wake of a crash, stress alone can serve to push a woman over the high-risk hurdle, making serious birth complications more possible.
And high-risk pregnancies often require specialist treatment, dramatically increasing the cost of medical care. High-risk pregnancies tend to cost more, on average, than normal pregnancies.