Car accidents can be a frightening experience, especially if a child is a passenger in the vehicle. Unfortunately, children can suffer catastrophic injuries that affect the rest of their lives.
If your child was hurt in a crash in California, the negligent driver may be responsible for compensating him or her for injuries. However, you need the help of a skilled car accident attorney to ensure your child receives proper compensation to provide coverage for care and expenses related to the crash.
Common Injuries Children Suffer in Auto Collisions
Children can be injured as passengers in a motor vehicle or if they're hit by a car while walking, riding their bikes, or playing near vehicles. Because of their small statures, the force of a crash impact puts them at greater risk of suffering long-term injuries or death.
Common injuries that children suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injury, concussions, skull fractures, and other brain injuries
- Broken and crushed bones
- Lung injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Chest injuries
- Spinal injuries
Steps to Take if Your Child Was Hurt in a Car Accident
In any collision, there's a series of necessary steps to act on right away to protect your health and your legal rights, such as seeking medical care, contacting the police, exchanging contact information with the driver, taking pictures, and obtaining witness contact information. If your child is hurt, here are some additional actions that are crucial to his or her well-being:
- Check on your child. If your child is unconscious or appears to be seriously injured, don't remove them from the car or booster seat—this might worsen any injuries. Wait for first responders to arrive and only assist if asked.
- Seek immediate medical care. The symptoms of some medical emergencies—such as traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries, and internal organ damage—may not appear immediately after a collision. In addition, infants and younger children may not be able to express the pain they're experiencing or understand they've been hurt. It's best to have your child examined by a physician as soon as possible after the crash. You should also continue to monitor your child for symptoms a few days or even weeks following the incident, and stay consistent with recommended medical care.
- Replace the car seat. Unless the accident was a minor one where no one suffered any injuries and there's little damage to the vehicles, it's best to replace your child’s car seat after a collision. It may have damage that is not visible to the naked eye. The negligent driver's insurance company or your own may reimburse you for this cost.
- Retain an experienced lawyer. It's crucial to retain a knowledgeable car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your collision. He can collect the evidence you need to prove the other driver’s negligence, determine the amount of past and future compensation your child is entitled to, and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company so that your child’s medical and financial needs are met—not only now, but for a lifetime.
Filing a California Car Accident Lawsuit for Your Child
If the insurance company won't offer your child a fair settlement, a lawsuit will need to be filed on his or her behalf. In California, a minor child—defined as under the age of 18—isn't permitted to be a party to a lawsuit. A parent cannot simply file the complaint for him.
Instead, the court appoints a competent adult as a guardian ad litem to make important decisions on behalf of a child in the civil case. In many situations, this is a parent.
Once your child’s case is settled, the settlement will need to be approved by the judge, unless the amount is $5,000 or less. When there's a substantial settlement, the judge may require the proceeds to be held in a trust fund or secured annuity to be distributed at various times during your child’s life.
How the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane Can Help
If your child was injured in a car accident in San Diego county or Southern California, I'm ready to put your mind at ease and help obtain the compensation your family deserves. Review my catalog of books to learn more, then start a live chat to schedule a free consultation.