Falling While Pregnant
For women and couples who are pregnant, it is difficult to think about injury risks and hazards that could harm the baby. However, as an article in the Maternal and Child Health Journal explains, slips and falls are actually very common during pregnancy for a variety of reasons. While some falls do not lead to serious injuries, in other cases, falling while pregnant can lead to severe injuries to the mother and to the unborn child. When another party’s negligence caused the fall, it may be possible to obtain compensation by filing a premises liability lawsuit.
What else do you need to know about slip and fall accidents in L.A. while pregnant? We will discuss some important facts about falls during pregnancy, as well as the process for filing a premises liability lawsuit. In the meantime, if you got hurt in a fall while you were pregnant, you should not hesitate to discuss your options with a Los Angeles premises liability lawyer.
Getting the Facts About Falls During Pregnancy
How often do women fall during pregnancy? According to the article, the risk of a fall is higher during pregnancy due to the “inevitable instability” that results from “changes in center of gravity and loosening of joints.” In other words, pregnant women may be at greater risk of falling than women who are not pregnant. To be sure, the article reports that about one out of every four women—or 25 percent—fall during pregnancy. During the nine-month period, one out of ten women—or 10 percent—will fall two or more times. In all pregnancy falls, about 10 percent of women who fall seek medical treatment. Some of them visit an emergency department, while others make appointments with their obstetricians. Given the high number of falls among pregnant women, the article points out that we should be thinking about such accidents as a serious, albeit preventable, public health issue.
What causes most women to fall during pregnancy? While the “changes in center of gravity and loosening of joints” that we referred to earlier can make it more likely for a pregnant woman to fall, those issues do not cause the fall. Rather, the following are listed in the article as common causes of falls during pregnancy:
- Slippery floors;
- Inappropriate or inadequate safety measures in or around buildings (such as hand rails); and
- Wearing inappropriate shoes.
A majority of women who slip and fall during pregnancy do so in the third trimester. Given that fact, it should not come as a surprise that “carrying additional loads was a factor in 28.7 percent of falls as pregnancy in itself already compromises vision of the feet and floors.”
Younger Women Are More Likely to Sustain Fall-Related Injuries During Pregnancy
The article points out that younger women are more likely to get hurt in a fall while they are pregnant than are older women. While we do not know precisely why this is—it may be, simply, that younger women are more active and thus put themselves at greater risk of a fall—we do know that women aged 20-24 are much more likely to require emergency care for a fall than are women aged 35 and older.
To give you a better idea of the increased risk of a fall during pregnancy, pregnant women between the ages of 20-24 visit emergency departments for fall-related injuries at a rate of 4,826 per 100,000, while women who are in the same age group but not pregnant tend to visit emergency departments for fall-related injuries at a significantly lower rate of 2,337 per 100,000.
When Should You Seek Medical Attention?
A fact sheet from the Mayo Clinic emphasizes that falling during pregnancy will not always result in serious injury to the mother or to the fetus. Indeed, as the fact sheet explains, “the walls of [the] uterus are thick, strong muscles that help to keep your baby safe,” and “the amniotic fluid also serves as a cushion.” In some situations, however, a fall during pregnancy does require immediate medical attention. The fact sheet recommends seeking medical care immediately if any of the following is true:
- Fall results in pain, bleeding, or a direct blow to your abdomen;
- Vaginal bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid after the fall;
- Severe pain or tenderness in the abdomen, uterus, or pelvis;
- Uterine contractions; or
- Decrease in fetal movement.
Filing a Premises Liability Lawsuit in the Los Angeles Area
If another party’s negligence caused you to fall while you were pregnant, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit against the person on whose property you fell. California law requires a plaintiff to prove the following essential factual elements:
- Defendant owned, leased, occupied, and/or controlled the property;
- Defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;
- Plaintiff harmed; and
- Defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s harm.
When is a defendant negligent? California says that property owners (or renters) owe a duty of care to certain people on the property. This duty of care requires the property owner to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. If the property owner does not use reasonable care, then she or he can be negligent.
What if I am Partially Responsible for the Severity of My Injuries?
You might have noticed that wearing improper shoes—presumably the fault of the plaintiff—can sometimes cause or contribute to a fall. What happens if the plaintiff is partially responsible for the fall or for the severity of her injuries?
California is a “pure comparative fault” state. What this means is that, under California law, a plaintiff can still recover as long as she is not 100 percent at fault. As such, a property owner can be liable for injuries resulting from a fall, and the plaintiff’s recovery (the amount the jury awards her) will be reduced by the percentage by which the jury decides she was negligent.