What to Do if Your Child Is Injured in a Car Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Joel H. Siegal with Siegal & Richardson.
Car accidents can be frightening, especially when a child is in the car. If your child was injured or might have been injured in a car accident, there are important considerations to keep in mind. Child injury cases differ from adult injury cases in a few key ways, as do the way children tend to react to traumatic situations. Additionally, due to the phases of development children are going through at any given time, an injury sustained in childhood could have a significant impact on their future health, wellbeing, and opportunities. If your child was hurt in a car accident, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney with specific experience handling child injury cases to know what to expect and how to seek current and future damages for your child.
Children are not typically able to express themselves the way an adult can.
Children are both more prone to injuries and less able to discuss them, making identifying the injury difficult. Due to the relative size and weight of a child compared with an adult, additional safety measures such as car seats and booster seats are required for young children traveling in a vehicle. However, even with these safeguards, children may still sustain injuries in a car accident, especially if the accident was severe.
While an adult in the same situation may complain of neck pain or headaches after an injury, a child may not be able to put these sensations into words, or may not understand their significance. After any car accident involving a child, it’s important to seek medical attention so that a doctor can hopefully identify an injury that a child may not be able to bring up on their own.
Childhood injuries could continue to affect their body into the future.
A child’s ability to recover completely from an injury depends significantly on what type of injury occurred, where on the body the injury was sustained, and how effective the suggested treatments are. Unfortunately, some injuries sustained in childhood could result in a disability as an adult, which could then go on to impact their social, relational, academic, and employment opportunities. If your child suffered an injury that is likely to affect them in the short-term or long-term future, it is especially important to reach out to a child injury attorney. These lawyers have seen childhood injury cases often enough to understand what kind of damages may result from your child’s injury six months, a year, 10 years, and even 20 years into the future to make sure your child is set to receive all of the support they will need during that time.
If your child was injured in a car accident, consider the following steps:
- Seek immediate medical care. While it is generally recommended for anyone to seek medical care after a car accident, it is particularly important for children to see a doctor, even if no injury is visible. Children may be unable, unwilling, or unaware of how to express the sensations they are feeling, such as pain, discomfort, or trauma. However, a doctor can evaluate your child’s conditions to hopefully identify any injuries, minor or severe, to ensure your child begins receiving necessary treatment as soon as possible as well as giving you an indication of how to proceed.
- Collect evidence. It’s important to collect evidence that may be relevant to your case should you choose to pursue litigation. Even if you are unsure whether or not to file a claim, it’s a good idea to collect photographic evidence and other documentation while you can, as some evidence may be harder to collect in the future. Evidence that may be helpful in a child injury car accident case includes but is not necessarily limited to thorough pictures of the vehicles involved; the contact and insurance information of the other driver(s); pictures of any property damaged in the accident; pictures of any injuries both at the time they occurred and during the healing process; contact information and testimonies from people who witnessed the accident; and medical records documenting the injuries.
- Contact a childhood injury attorney. Child injury cases are highly specific, as are the damages which may be relevant to your child’s case. A child injury attorney can help assess your child’s current and future needs, collect evidence on your behalf, and can reach out to expert resources for analysis of the accident and your child’s condition at not out-of-pocket cost to you. Many childhood injury attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means clients don’t pay unless they win their case. This allows the child’s family to focus on healing and recovery rather than worrying about how to pay another accident-related bill.
To learn more about what to do after your child has been injured in a car accident, or for help filing a claim, reach out to a child injury attorney as soon as possible.