How Does Volvo Protect Pregnant Women While Driving?

Pregnant women holding her belly

Although it is horrific to think about, a study conducted by the University of Michigan showed that nearly 200,000 car wrecks a year involve pregnant women, most often in their second or third trimester. Other studies suggest that hundreds of fetal deaths a year can be attributed to car wrecks. An experienced car wreck lawyer can be of invaluable assistance to pregnant accident victims. The statistics cited are indeed sobering, but one car company, Volvo, should be applauded for its efforts to study and reduce car wrecks involving women, specifically pregnant women.

Volvo has had a reputation for car safety, dating back to the 1970s when the company began analyzing crashes. Its accident research team has looked at all aspects of more than 100,000 accidents since then. More importantly, they have responded to the data, creating car designs that made driving safer based on real-world knowledge.

One of the most innovative programs is Volvo’s Equal Vehicle for All (EVA) initiative, which improves car safety for women. As part of this effort, in 1995, Volvo was the first company to conduct crash tests using female mannequins. They studied these results and subsequently developed in-car protection systems that consider female anatomy, including the following:

  • Whiplash protection that considers a woman’s body as well as a man’s
  • Side crash injury protection that compensates for a woman’s chest anatomy
  • Head injury crashes that are mindful of a woman’s often shorter stature

In 2002, Volvo created the world’s first virtual model of a pregnant woman to conduct frontal-impact crash tests. These tests were designed to study how seat belts and airbags can best protect a pregnant woman and her fetus.  As a result, Volvo reengineered its seat belts and airbags to increase protection for pregnant women and their unborn babies.

Tips to Drive Safely While Pregnant

Volvo’s crash test results and other research show certain driving behaviors that can reduce a pregnant women’s chances of being in a car wreck or lessen the severity of injuries in an accident.  These include the following:

  • A pregnant woman should always wear a seat belt. Some pregnant women wonder if a seat belt can harm the fetus or say they are uncomfortable with it on. Studies show it is always better for a pregnant woman to wear a seat belt.
  • The woman should remove bulky clothing so that the seat belt is as close to the body as possible.
  • The lap belt should be pulled over the thighs and be kept resting flat under the belly and locked in place.
  • The shoulder belt is to be positioned between the breasts.
  • Pregnant drivers should never pull the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm.
  • The lap belt should never be placed across the stomach. If it goes over the navel, it is too high.
  • The stomach should be kept a protected distance from the airbag, at least 10 inches away from the dashboard or steering wheel. The woman should move the seat back as the pregnancy progresses. If the belly grows too large to reach the pedals, the woman should travel with a friend or call a taxi or ride-sharing company.
  • Pregnant women should not drive if tired, dizzy, or nauseated. If a woman feels sick while driving, she should pull over until symptoms pass.
  • It is important to make sure the airbag system has not been disabled or shut off. Airbags still save pregnant women and their babies, according to experts.
  • If riding as a passenger, the woman should sit in the back with the seat belt buckled.

Common Car Wreck Injuries for Pregnant Women and Their Unborn Babies

Despite Volvo and other car companies’ efforts, car wrecks resulting in death or injury still occur. For pregnant women, the outcome of these accidents will obviously depend on the type of crash, whether front, side, or rear impact; severity or force of the car wreck; and how/where the pregnant woman was injured. Following are common outcomes of more serious accidents:

  • Placenta abruption/separation: This is a common injury in a car accident. The placenta can partially or fully separate from the uterine wall, causing serious complications and even death of the fetus.
  • Premature birth: Car wrecks have been shown to bring on premature birth, which sometimes, but not always, can be halted by doctors. Babies born too prematurely may have long-term medical issues or may not be able to survive birth.
  • Miscarriage: A baby is often well protected in the uterus, so a minor accident may not result in any injury. Serious accidents, however, could result in a miscarriage at any point in the pregnancy.
  • High-risk pregnancy: A pregnant woman involved in a car wreck can sustain injuries that cause her pregnancy to become high risk. A high-risk pregnancy requires more fetal monitoring, more doctor visits and screenings, medications, potential bed rest or hospital stays, and other stressful situations.
  • Uterine rupture: Unfortunately, when a car wreck causes a pregnant women’s uterus to rupture, there is almost a 100 percent chance that the fetus will not survive.
  • Direct injuries to the fetus. Injuries that cause fetal trauma or birth defects include skull and brain injuries, nearly always fatal. An unborn baby can also sustain breathing and nervous system disorders and injuries to the heart, extremities, and internal organs in an accident.
  • Death of the mother: Although injuries are often also fatal to the fetus, there are cases in which an unborn child has survived its mother’s death.
  • Long-term health consequences: If a mother and unborn child survive an accident, there may be minor or serious lifelong health consequences.

What Should Pregnant Women Do After a Car Wreck?

  • Someone should call 911 immediately to report the accident and injuries.
  • All those involved in the car wreck should get out of the way of incoming or oncoming traffic if it is safe to do so.
  • Drivers should wait for the police to arrive before speaking about the accident. The driver should not admit guilt or responsibility for the accident.
  • EMTs should be allowed to perform a check-up even if there are no obvious injuries to the woman or the unborn baby.
  • The woman should exchange insurance information with the other driver(s), have pictures taken of the accident, and get names and phone numbers of any witnesses if possible.
  • As soon as possible, the woman must follow up with the obstetrician, whether injured or not. She should go to the emergency room if symptoms appear at any time.
  • The insurance company needs to be called.
  • The woman should call an experienced car wreck lawyer who will understand her rights and potential compensation for injuries and damages.

Why Should a Pregnant Accident Victim Call a Car Wreck Lawyer?

When another driver or driving company causes a car wreck, they have the legal obligation to compensate victims for injuries and damages. A pregnant woman, especially, could sustain major injuries even in a minor accident. The other driver’s insurance company may offer compensation, but the victim should not be quick to take it. It is always a good idea to consult with a car wreck lawyer who will fight for a victim’s right to receive fair and just compensation for personal injuries after the accident, including physical, emotional, and financial losses:

  • Medical expenses: For pregnant women, these may include increased office visits, additional screenings and ultrasounds, increased fetal monitoring, and potentially the services of a medical specialist. A pregnant victim may also be placed under hospital care or bed rest or may need to deliver early.
    • If the unborn baby is delivered early, sustains injuries, or has birth defects because of a car wreck, a fair settlement can potentially cover these future lifetime medical and care costs.
    • If serious consequences such as placenta separation, uterine rupture, or miscarriage occur, medical costs can be astronomical and need to be compensated fairly.
  • Pain and suffering: Being involved in a car wreck while pregnant can cause much worry and stress over the baby’s health. Should an unborn baby sustain fatal injuries, a victim should be fairly compensated for this devastating loss.
  • Lost wages: If car wreck injuries make the victim unable to work, compensation for lost wages may be awarded.
  • Property damage: This includes damage sustained to the car and other property in the car wreck.
  • Wrongful death: If an unborn child dies, some states will allow a wrongful death claim, whereas other states will allow a wrongful death claim only if the child was delivered alive and later died of injuries sustained in the accident. Maryland does not allow wrongful death lawsuits if an unborn fetus dies.

Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Pregnant Car Accident Victims

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident while pregnant, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Protecting your rights is our top priority. We will fight to obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.