Motor vehicle accidents are scary and can happen to anyone at any time. They definitely do not discriminate in terms of who falls victim to one. For most involved in an auto accident, your first concern is taking care of yourself and getting the care you need. But for a pregnant woman, the stakes can be so much higher. I write this particular blog entry after some first-hand experience in my own life. The rules are different for a pregnant mother involved in an accident and the settlement negations after the accident can be much more complex. Understanding what you need to do can make this a little easier to navigate.
I think it goes without saying that if you are pregnant and in an accident, no matter how far along, you go to the ER immediately after the accident. My wife and I experienced this when she was pregnant with our second son. Our oldest, who was almost 2 years old at the time, was in the back seat in his five-point car seat. My wife was around 20 weeks pregnant and seat belted. She and our son were sitting still as the first car at a stop light. She recalls talking to our son in the rearview mirror when she noticed a car coming from behind at a high rate of speed and not looking like it would stop. Knowing what was about to happen, she braced and turned around to look at our son. At that moment, the teenage boy driving the SUV impacted their stopped car. My wife remembers our sons face going from happy, scared, to crying. He was thankfully safe and secure in his car seat but definitely scared at what happened and the obvious look of fear on his mother’s face.
My wife, on the other hand, was injured. At the time of impact, she had turned to the back to look at our son and upon impact, her knee was forcefully smashed into the hard-plastic dash. Now, here is where it gets tricky. In a “normal” accident, she would have calmly gotten out of the car, assessed her injuries and most likely reported these to EMS and been checked out. But, her condition was a little different. You see, she had just been through a miscarriage months before and was being overly cautions with this pregnancy. She was petrified that she would lose this baby as well as was concerned for the child in the back now crying.
EMS did arrive and both my wife and son were taken to the ER. I remember her just being concerned with the health and wellbeing of our son and our unborn son and the entire ER visit revolving around our children’s health. There was not much mention of her other injuries or her own personal condition as it just wasn’t on the forefront of her mind. Thanks be to God; both of our children were ok. She was released and told to follow up with her doctor.
She was definitely sore and soon started noticing some aches and pains that were not there before, specifically her knee which was now extremely painful. Long story short, over the next weeks and months she sought treatment, but was told she would need strong pain meds, injections and ultimately, an MRI to see what was wrong. With this pregnancy post a miscarriage, I remember her not even drinking coffee or taking any type of medications. No one can fault a woman for being overly cautious with a pregnancy after having gone through a miscarriage, so it was no surprise to me when she opted for not proceeding with the injections or MRIs. She, as most moms do, toughed it out for the health and wellbeing of our unborn child.
Our son was born, and my wife immediately began breast feeding. Again, she chose to abstain from any type of medications and even coffee. She breast fed him for around a year and commented on her knee pain on a daily basis. After our son was about a year old, she stopped breast feeding and decided it was now time to take care of herself and visited the most well-respected orthopedic surgeons here in town. She told him the mechanics of the accident and how her body was turned and the impact. Based off this and the sounds it was making, knew that she had most likely torn a meniscus in her knee and would need surgery. An MRI confirmed this, and she was scheduled to have it fixed. She had no prior trauma, no degenerative changes to her knees and was not involved in any athletics that might have caused injury, so the accident was the only explanation.
Surgery fully repaired the knee and she was back to normal, but now came the tricky part. Our own insurance company denied the claim saying that she did not seek treatment for the injury. The adjuster said he did not see why she could not go to visits for pain meds, get injections and an MRI while pregnant and therefore, discounted her choice to be medication free during her pregnancy after fears of an additional miscarriage. Long story short, we prevailed on this, but not before having to file suit. My advice on this is that a pregnant woman’s body is different and requires a whole different set of rules. Do not feel pressured, under any circumstances, to do things that you don’t want to do just to build a case or prove to an insurance company that you have injuries. Always make sure to seek immediate treatment after an accident and confirm that both you and your child are safe. Keep your necessary follow up visits with appropriate health care providers and do what you can, within your comfort zone, to care for your injuries. I often suggest keeping an injury journal to document new aches and pains you might be experiencing. Discuss these with your health care provider and make sure they note them too. Always do what is best for you and your child and know that we are here to help you through the process of navigating these injuries through your pregnancy and beyond.