Car accidents can cause unspeakable devastation to those involved. In some situations, injuries sustained in a car accident cause miscarriage. In the United States, motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of traumatic fetal mortality and serious maternal injury, morbidity, and mortality in the United States, injuring approximately 92,500 pregnant women every year. Traumatic events can lead to feelings of guilt, even when you have done nothing wrong. You may wonder what you could have done differently. For many people, the idea of even filing a lawsuit after a miscarriage is far-fetched, but you may have the right to take legal action.
At FVF, our priority is educating people about their rights and options. Read on for more information about filing a lawsuit when someone else’s negligence causes a miscarriage.
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Can a Car Accident Cause a Miscarriage?
Car accidents can result in different kinds of traumatic impacts to the body, and many of them have the potential to result in miscarriage. Trauma injuries affect between 3 and 7% of all pregnancies in industrialized nations, and the most common cause is car accidents.
Pregnancy-related injuries can be caused by the sudden stop and impact of the vehicle, the impact of the seat belt, or the force of the airbag, resulting in a variety of injuries and complications:
- Premature birth
- Birth defects
- Maternal injury
- Placental abruption
- Uterine injury
- Direct fetal trauma
- Fetal brain damage
- Emergency C-section
- Maternal death
No matter how minor the crash, always seek medical care if you are pregnant and in a car accident. Some injuries take time to develop, and it is not unlikely that you will be advised to undergo closer monitoring of your pregnancy if there is any indication your pregnancy is at risk. While not all miscarriages caused by car accidents happen right away, the most immediately life-threatening injuries that are unique to pregnant occupants are generally one of the following:
- Placental abruption: Placental abruption is the most common cause of miscarriage resulting from car accidents. The placenta is a large organ that develops during pregnancy and attaches to the wall of the uterus to provide oxygen and nutrients to developing fetuses and remove waste products. Car accidents can cause an injury to the placenta called placental abruption, which disrupts the supply of nutrients and oxygen it provides.
- Uterine rupture or laceration: Blunt force impacts can cause the uterus itself to be injured or be ruptured, resulting in a quick-moving, life-threatening injury. Uterine injuries are rare, resulting in less than 1% of trauma injuries during pregnancy — when they do occur, the likelihood of fetal death is near 100%.
Direct fetal injury: In about 10% of car accidents involving pregnant occupants, injuries can directly impact the fetus. This is most common after the first trimester. Direct fetal injuries can happen along with placental or uterine injuries, but they also can result from a maternal pelvic fracture, which reduces the amount of structural protection provided to the uterus.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You Miscarry?
Miscarriages can happen weeks or even months after a car accident. The full scope of car accident injuries can take time to develop, and sometimes, that includes pregnancy complications with a high risk of miscarriage:
- Lacerations or internal bleeding
- Restricted airways or circulation
- Maternal shock
- Psychological stress
The amount of stress that impacts a person involved in a car accident is immense, whether or not serious injuries are immediately apparent, and this can be dangerous to pregnancy. In 2017, researchers published an analysis of 8 studies that looked at the impact of psychological stress on miscarriage, and what they found is that the risk of miscarriage was 42% higher when psychological stressors were present.
The stress of worrying about injury, property damage, missed work, and medical bills is never easy for people involved in a car accident, but it can be especially dangerous for those who are pregnant.
What are the Medical Costs of a Miscarriage Caused by a Car Accident?
Because of the seriousness of being in a car accident while pregnant, medical care should always be a priority, but we understand that many people are concerned about the costs. When medical care is needed to address injuries and pregnancy complications from a car accident, the costs can be immense. Expenses might include:
- Treatment for the pregnant driver or passenger’s own injuries
- Medical exams and testing to evaluate fetal health
- Treatment to address pregnancy complications after the accident
- Ongoing treatment for PTSD after miscarriage
Suffering a miscarriage under any circumstance be expensive. Even in the case of so-called minor injuries that end up resulting in miscarrage, surgical intervention may be needed, increasing the financial costs of the miscarriage and adding to an already traumatizing situation. Unfortunately, nearly 20% of Texas residents have no health coverage, and that means that paying for medical care after a car accident falls on the shoulders of the injured.
Can I File a Lawsuit if I Had a Miscarriage After a Car Accident?
Survivors may be able to file a lawsuit against the person or parties responsible for a car accident that causes miscarriage. The law allows eligible survivors who file a lawsuit in Texas to ask for compensation for the damage done to them by the death of their family member.
Most states allow for some form of legal action when it comes to the wrongful death of a fetus, but Texas is one of a small number of states whose wrongful death actions apply to “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.” This means that no matter how far along the pregnancy is at the time of the car accident, there may be grounds for a civil claim.
The complexity of pregnancy as a factor in a car accident case means that there may be multiple actions against the responsible party or parties at the same time. There may be multiple personal injury lawsuits and maybe even ongoing legal proceedings. A lawsuit is often the last thing on people’s minds after experiencing the trauma of a car accident — especially if the accident results in pregnancy loss — but contacting a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident is in your best interests.
What is the Process of Filing a Lawsuit After Miscarriage?
The process of recovering damages for miscarriage due to a car accident is emotionally trying. Understanding the steps involved in a personal injury lawsuit can help ease some of the stress of uncertainty. These include:
- Consultation with an attorney
- Investigation of your case
- Documentation of damages
- Filing of the lawsuit
- Exchanging of evidence — also called discovery
- Mediation, settlement, or trial by jury
At FVF, we believe that juries are the conscience of the community, and we will not settle a case just to get it off our plates. Insurers will attempt any number of defense tactics to avoid liability for your miscarriage:
- Insignificance of injury. Insurance companies may try to excuse their role in causing the miscarriage by claiming the injuries suffered were too minor to have resulted in miscarriage. However, while minor traumas account for 90% of pregnancy-related trauma cases, they account for 60-70% of all pregnancy losses.
- Prior history of miscarriages. While insurance companies may try to claim that a previous miscarriage is evidence that another was inevitable, miscarriage is generally a one-time occurrence — fewer than 1% of women experience recurrent miscarriages.
- Maternal actions contributed. Defense attorneys will dig deep to present reasons miscarriage was inevitable as a result of maternal actions and risk factors, from prenatal care records to how they wear a seatbelt.
- Multiple responsible parties. Rather than completely escape liability, especially in the event of a truck accident or other commercial collision, insurers may try to reduce their responsibility.
- Legal maneuvering. Delaying negotiations, attempting to run out the statute of limitations, or invalidating wrongful death claims or survival actions are all tactics that might be used to find a loophole and avoid paying compensation.
The higher the value of your damages, the harder insurers will work to avoid paying, such as if you were hit by a drunk driver or if the driver who caused the accident was in a commercial vehicle. However, early conversations with an injury attorney mean you can be in a better position to navigate the tactics that insurance companies or other parties will try to use to devalue your claim, even before a lawsuit is filed.
When you are in a car accident that was not your fault, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss the circumstances, especially if pregnancy is a factor. In the best-case scenario, a conversation with the FVF team simply will help you make sure you are accessing every resource available to you as you deal with the aftermath of the accident.
How Can FVF Help?
Few ever experience a greater sense of responsibility than that of protecting another being growing in your body. This loss, along with your own physical and emotional injuries, can leave you feeling confused, angry, and worried about how you’ll recover. You may even be dealing with PTSD. When you have suffered a miscarriage due to car accident injuries, you deserve to speak with someone who will listen openly and then help you understand how you can move toward healing.
You don’t have to go through the process alone. At FVF, our experienced attorneys have handled hundreds of wrongful death cases over the years. We don’t take cases if we don’t believe that we can add enough value to your recovery to cover the cost of hiring a lawyer — and then some. We invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. Together, we can discuss your options and help you decide how to move forward.