It can be terrifying to slip and fall while you’re carrying a child. Here’s how falls affect your body and your baby, plus action steps for making a claim.
The financial and personal cost of any slip and fall accident is high. A broken arm, a hurt back, or even a life-threatening head injury can destroy your financial security and quality of life. If you are pregnant, there can be even more stress as you deal with the aftermath of your fall.
Your body is going through serious and systemic changes preparing for the birth. Any injury can have serious consequences. A slip and fall while pregnant can also affect your ability to parent your child, even long after the birth. And of course, a bad slip and fall accident can also hurt your developing baby.
Businesses and other property owners must provide you a safe environment, free of unnecessary risks. And when you or your baby is harmed because of negligence or even intentional misbehavior, things must be set right. Your health, and your child’s health, depend on you receiving proper medical care and compensation for your injury.
This article will examine how pregnant bodies react to slip and fall accidents, and the potential impact of these accidents on the unborn child. Finally, we will take a look at pregnant slip and fall claims, how to prove them, and their potential value in and out of court.
How Falls Affect Pregnant Women
Pregnancy can leave you uniquely vulnerable to slip and fall accidents. Carrying a baby shifts your center of gravity forward, which of course can make it more difficult to keep your balance. As you progress in your pregnancy, the pregnancy hormone relaxin loosens joints and ligaments in preparation for delivery.
These physiological changes can make it difficult to walk even in the safest of circumstances. Where there are slippery surfaces or merchandise carelessly left in the middle of the floor, the risk is even greater.
There is good news. According to the Mayo Clinic, your body is designed to protect the developing baby from outward threats. Uterine walls are thick and muscular. Along with the amniotic fluid, they help protect and cushion your baby from sudden violent impact outside your body.
Because there is more amniotic fluid (and thus more cushion for the fetus) in early pregnancy, falls are typically less serious in the early stages than the late stages of pregnancy. Your pelvic bone also provides more protection at this stage. Regardless, even a minor fall in your first trimester warrants a call to your obstetrician in addition to your primary health care provider.
Types of Pregnancy-Related Injuries
Any fall during a pregnancy must be taken very seriously. In the absence of pain or other symptoms, you may be lucky enough to have only a minor injury. Make sure you follow up with your obstetrician to make sure everything is okay.
Falls in the second or third trimesters can be much more serious, particularly if you received part or all of the impact in your abdomen.
A major slip and fall injury during your pregnancy can result in several different kinds of injuries, including:
- Placental abruption: This is when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. This can endanger both your and your baby if left untreated.
- Fetal skull fracture: This can cause serious and lasting brain damage to your child.
- Broken bones of the mother: These can present hazards to the child resulting from drug treatments and/or surgery. If at all possible, surgery should be delayed until after pregnancy to avoid adverse effects on the unborn child.
If you or a pregnant family member has a slip and fall accident, don’t immediately move the mother until you have ascertained how serious the potential injury is.
If the mother has any of the following symptoms or conditions, seek immediate medical attention:
- Direct blow to the abdomen
- Leaking amniotic fluid
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic, stomach, or back pain
- Decreased fetal movement
Effects of a Pregnant Slip and Fall Injury
Slip and fall injuries can affect your own body in a number of ways, not the least of which include injuries to your back, head, and neck.
Apart from the effects to your pregnancy and child, your injuries can cause you significant and lasting disabilities. If you suffer any injuries to your own body, you must ensure that you are compensated for those.
Your developing baby can also suffer short-term and long-term effects from the impact of a slip and fall accident. Miscarriage or stillbirth can result, particularly from injuries in the second and third trimesters. Premature birth, along with its various complications, can also result from the impact of a slip and fall accident.
Impact to the fetal skull can also cause death or serious injury. Brain damage, including cerebral palsy, can also result.
Proving Your Slip and Fall Injury Claim
The first and most important part of any personal injury claim is offering proof of your injuries. Doctor’s reports and other medical records are necessary.
In the case of injury to your child, you will also need to talk with your obstetrician and/or pediatrician to get a prognosis for those injuries.
In the event that your child needs further medical care or other services due to your injury, you’ll need to have that information as well. It’s very important to have a frank discussion with your doctor, as well as your child’s doctor, and any medical conditions your child may suffer as a result of your slip and fall injury.
Depending upon the type of injury, you may also have diagnostic tests completed that illustrate the condition of you and your child. These should always be collected and presented to both the company that harmed you and to a court.
These tests may include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) (for your child)
- Metabolic testing (for your child)
- Developmental milestone testing (for your child)
While medical evidence about injuries is important, don’t forget to collect evidence regarding your slip and fall accident itself. Where did it happen? Were there wet floors, or did you trip on some badly maintained carpet? Try to get photos or video of the area where the accident happened as soon as it’s possible to do so.
Pregnant Slip and Fall Injury Claim Values
As always, having hard evidence is key to getting properly compensated for injuries to you and your child.
If you claim an injury against a property owner or insurance company with no supporting documentation, you won’t get very far. It’s unlikely in that event that you would get more than nuisance value for your claim.
If you attempt to go to court without the proper evidence regarding your injuries, your case will likely be dismissed and you won’t recover anything.
In the event that you have a condition that requires surgery before your baby is born (prenatal surgery), the risk and expense of that surgery can be considerable. Specialized surgery, with particular care to anesthesia and necessary fetal monitoring, can easily run $30,000 in addition to other medical care costs.
And if your baby is injured or dies as a result of another’s negligence, the damages from that can be immense. According to the online Cerebral Palsy Guide, the condition can cost $1 million to treat over a lifetime. In the event of a child’s wrongful death, you can reasonably demand (and perhaps obtain) the full amount of the property owner’s liability insurance policy.
When considering what your claim is worth, your attorney will add an amount for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. This amount is usually between 1 and 2 times the amount of your economic damages. As you can see, these claims are horrible to deal with and therefore tend to have a much higher value.
Keeping Yourself and Your Baby Safe
Everybody has the right to deliver their baby in as safe and healthy a way as possible. If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall injury while pregnant, don’t delay. Contact a qualified personal injury attorney in your state today to receive a free consultation and case evaluation.
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