A car accident is always unpleasant and stressful, but being pregnant makes it exponentially worse. Pregnancy creates special risks and damages from a car accident, and an accident can have lasting effects on both mother and child. As a result of these considerations, car accident damages and settlements are higher during pregnancy. But how much higher? What is the average settlement for a car accident while pregnant?
Pregnancy Complications and Miscarriage Associated with Auto Accidents
Decades of research have proven that car accidents are the leading cause of non-obstetrical complications and adverse outcomes in pregnancy. Car accidents during pregnancy can cause death to the child and/or mother, as well as complications like:
- Induced labor and cesarean section
- Preterm labor and delivery
- Placental abruption
- Uterine rupture
In addition, car accidents are a significant cause of maternal stress and anxiety, which is linked to negative effects on the unborn child. Maternal stress increases the risks of preterm delivery and low infant birth weight, and may even go on to affect the cognitive development of a growing child.
Because the physical and emotional trauma of a car accident can have such an impact on pregnancy, it is critical that pregnant women receive appropriate medical care after a collision. Here are the important things to remember:
- Call 911. If you or anyone involved in a car accident have a serious injury, or there is doubt about the severity of an injury, call 911.
- Call the police. Texas law requires you to call the police to the scene of a car accident when there has been an injury, a driver is uninsured, a driver has left the scene of the accident, it is impossible to safely move vehicles out of the roadway, or you suspect that a driver is under the influence.
- Call your doctor. If you are pregnant and have been in an accident, even if the accident is minor and you weren’t injured, call your doctor or OB/GYN and seek medical advice. Always call your OB/GYN and/or seek emergency medical care if you have unusual bleeding or discharge, you have abdominal pain after an accident, or you feel a change in the movement of the baby.
The Average Settlement for a Car Accident While Pregnant
Nationwide, the average car accident liability claim in 2013 was:
- $3,231 for accidents with property damage alone
- $15,443 for accidents with bodily injury
Remember that Texas requires drivers to be insured for a minimum of $30,000 per injured person per accident, so insurance settlement offers will naturally be below the limit set by the policy. In Texas, the average settlement offer from auto insurance companies is $21,000.
Because pregnancy poses a special risk for injury and complications from a car accident, a pregnant woman almost always has a higher settlement amount. Special damages due to pregnancy will almost always include an additional doctor visit and probably an ultrasound, just to be safe.
Naturally, because car accidents can vary so dramatically in severity and impact, car accident settlements in Texas can range from the thousands to the millions.
Factors that can Affect Your Overall Car Accident Settlement
If you have been injured in a car accident, you are entitled to compensation for your damages. Depending on the severity of your car accident, some of the types of damages you may recover include:
- Medical costs. Any costs related to your medical care after an accident can be claimed as damages.
- Property damage. Property damage covers the cost of vehicle repair, but may also cover the costs of other personal property lost or damaged in an accident.
- Lost wages. If you were unable to work, your lost wages can be claimed as damages.
- Out-of-pocket expenses. If you had out-of-pocket expenses, like car rental, they may be included in your settlement.
- Pain and suffering. If an auto accident left you with lasting physical or emotional pain and trauma, it may be claimed as part of your damages.
In the tragic case where a pregnant woman miscarries as a result of a car accident, she may also be able to sue the other driver for the wrongful death of her child.
Texas is a “comparative fault” state, which means that if both drivers jointly contributed to the severity of an accident, they may share the legal and financial responsibility for the damages. For example, if one driver rear-ends another at a stoplight, the driver who caused the accident is at fault. However, if the driver who was hit was not wearing a seatbelt, they may be considered partly at fault for their own injuries, and be held accountable for a percentage of the costs.
Despite some misconceptions about car safety equipment during pregnancy, it is crucial that pregnant women drive with their airbags enabled, and wear a three-point seatbelt low on their bodies across the hips. Many accident-related pregnancy complications could be avoided every year if women continue to practice the best safety when driving.
Texas’ Statute of Limitations Can Affect Your Case
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations on property damage and personal injury. This means you must file your claim within two years of the accident, or you cannot recover any damages.
In addition, accepting a settlement from a car insurance company waives your right to sue in the future for additional damages.
If you have been in a car accident while pregnant, it is best to consult with a qualified attorney to understand your rights and options.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer to Help You
Even the most joyful pregnancy can be full of unexpected difficulties, strong emotions, and various inconveniences. A car accident during pregnancy can add trauma, stress, and complications during a time that is already challenging and stressful. Having a car accident attorney on your side can help you understand your rights, keep track of all your damages, and make sure you either get a fair settlement or take your case to court.
If you have been in a car accident, whether you are pregnant or not, contact the law offices of Johnson Garcia LLP. Our combined 30 years of experience have helped our clients recover more than $100,000,000, and we are proud to fight for your rights. We offer free consultations, and we won’t rest until justice is served. Contact us today.