Car accidents are violent events. They cause serious injuries to both the driver and their passengers. When one of those passengers is as helpless as an unborn baby, the chances of placental abruption and/or a miscarriage are very high. Here we’ll take a look at what you can do if you’ve been in a car accident while pregnant.
Risks to Pregnant Women in a Car Accident
Pregnant women have unique risks when in a car accident. This applies directly to them and not their babies. These include internal hemorrhaging, preterm labor, and other risks of the pregnancy. If you’re an expectant mother who has been in a car accident, it’s imperative that you go to the doctor afterward so that he or she can anticipate any potential problems that might occur with the pregnancy after the accident. Some of these problems may be directly attributable to the accident. In other words, they didn’t exist before and unless you see your doctor and report the accident, they won’t know that this problem exists.
The baby is also at increased risk. The chance of a miscarriage or birth defects also increases. High-risk pregnancies create complications for both the mother and the child. During high-risk pregnancies, the baby is at greater risk of suffering some form of brain damage.
Additionally, there is the question of mental and psychological distress which is difficult to quantify. Pregnancies are already stressful, so when you factor a car accident into the mix, they become doubly so.
Loss of a Baby and Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Missouri
Under Missouri’s wrongful death statute, a plaintiff may seek damages for the loss of a viable fetus. A nonviable fetus, however, is not considered a “person” under the law. That begs the question: What is the threshold for viability? Here, we have to look to the case law to find an answer.
In O’Grady v. Brown, the Missouri Supreme Court overruled a prior precedent set forth in Harden v. Sanders that maintained that a fetus did not have to stand under the law. In O’Grady v. Brown, the plaintiffs petitioned the court making three claims for damages. The first involved personal injury suffered Terry O’Grady, the second involved loss of consortium by her husband, and the third involved emotional distress concerning the loss of their baby. Terry O’Grady was nine months pregnant and her child was delivered stillborn.
Essentially, the question of whether or not the fetus is viable is a scientific one. One case that involved a three-month-old fetus was dismissed by the Missouri Supreme Court since the fetus was not considered viable outside of the womb. The distinction may be specious as medical technology improves and babies are allowed to be born earlier, but six months and after would be the minimum for personhood under the statute.
Has Your Baby Been Injured in a Car Accident?
If your pregnancy was ended prematurely due to a car accident cause injury or death to your baby, you may have cause to sue for wrongful death under the Missouri statute. Talk to a Kansas City car accident lawyer today for more details.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.