What Do I Do if My Child Is Injured in a Car Accident?

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What to Do if Your Child is Injured in a Car Accident?

Most states throughout the U.S. require that children be placed in a booster or car seat while riding in a vehicle to keep them safe. Sadly, children may still become injured when involved in a collision. Seeing your child or children injured due to another driver’s negligence is one of the most painful experiences a parent can bear. As a parent, it is essential after a car accident that specific procedural steps are taken so that you can ensure that the pain and suffering your child incurred and any medical expenses sustained are compensated.

As the guardian and provider of your child, you may be able to seek compensation for any damages incurred to them during the accident or damages caused to you and your life due to the accident. It is vital to remember that insurers and drivers who’ve been negligent will not often volunteer to compensate for your child’s injuries. However, you are not alone. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in presenting a solid claim and ensuring that you receive the justice you deserve when it comes to recovering from your child’s or children’s injuries. We have compiled a list of the first steps you should take if your child has become injured during a car accident:

Call the Police & Get Insurance Information

After every car accident, whether there are minors involved or not, you should call the police immediately after the accident. Check for injuries and if the injuries are serious, call for an ambulance without delay. Otherwise, the police officer will arrive at the scene and ask a few questions to you, the other driver, and any witnesses, after which they will create an incident report. While at the scene, obtaining insurance and personal information from the other driver is crucial. It is impossible to receive compensation if you do not know who hit you. Therefore, you should swap insurance information and driver’s license information with all drivers involved in the collision. You should also take any witnesses’ names and personal information and take photos at the accident scene if you are able.

Take Your Child to the Hospital

After an accident, but especially when it comes to your children, you should visit a doctor or an emergency room to get checked out as soon as possible. A child’s injuries may be challenging to diagnose. Many children cannot communicate clearly regarding internal pain. It is possible that after an accident, your child may not communicate much at all other than crying. Therefore, it is best to get examined at a hospital. A doctor may order tests such as MRIs or x-rays to ensure that everything is okay. Injuries such as whiplash or concussions may be complicated to diagnose without testing. Even if your child feels fine, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is often the occasion that it may take some time for the pain and soreness to develop, past the initial shock of the accident. If you should seek financial compensation for injuries or suffering, it is critical that you seek care for injuries as soon as possible.

Watch Your Child Closely

After a car accident, you must watch your children closely. If you see any worrisome or abnormal behavior, you should return to the hospital or make an appointment with your pediatrician immediately. It is possible that your child is experiencing pain or symptoms from an injury that may have gone undetected by the doctor under initial examination. For example, brain injuries may not cause symptoms for a few days following the initial injury.

Meet Quickly with an Attorney

Comparative fault, such as when the parent driving the car contributed to the accident, is an issue that presents itself frequently in personal injury car accident cases involving minors. Generally, a parent’s negligence is not attributed to the child. Still, a parent’s negligence may reduce the other driver’s liability. In situations such as this, it is advised to meet with an attorney to review the evidence and go over the events leading to the accident. An insurance adjuster will likely try to amplify the responsibility of the parent to reduce liability. A child cannot file a lawsuit, but their legal guardian can on their behalf. Parents should contact an attorney if their child or children have been injured in a car accident to learn more about the settlement process.

Accessing Settlement Money

When a child becomes injured in a vehicular accident, any compensation received resulting from a personal injury case is the property of that child. When the settlement is more than $10,000, the court will often appoint a guardian to receive the proceeds in many jurisdictions.

How Child Personal Injury Cases Differ from Adult Cases

Depending on the jurisdiction, personal injury cases involving minors can typically go either one of two ways. Either parents can file the claim for their children, or a child may wait until they become 18 to file a claim, in which statutes of limitations may vary. If the child decides to wait until they reach the age of maturity, precious evidence pertaining to the case may be lost. Typically, the most successful cases result from the parents of the minor filing a claim as soon as possible.

In claims involving children, it is necessary to retain an attorney for the case to be considered appropriate by the court. Oftentimes many courts feel that without proper legal representation, the decisions being made for the child may not be in their best interest. In some courts, a court-appointed guardian ad litem may be appointed to ensure that the child’s parents and attorney act in the child’s best interests. This guardian helps to ensure that parents are not seeking to settle to meet their own needs rather than the child’s needs.

Partner with Trusted Car Accident Attorneys

In the event that your child has sustained injuries in a car accident due to the negligent actions of another driver, help is available. As one of North Carolina’s most trusted personal injury firms, the experienced attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC have decades of experience fighting for personal injury victims. We are equipped to help you and your child reach the best possible outcome. Call our office at 800-LAW-0804 (800-529-0804) or fill out our contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.