Our experienced Phoenix car accident lawyers know that anybody who is in a car can be injured in a car accident. This includes children, even when they are sitting in appropriate child safety seats. As a parent, there are few thoughts more terrifying than the thought of losing your child or having him or her suffer a severe, permanent injury in a car accident. But the truth is that children do suffer injuries and die in car accidents every day.
Sadly, the latest statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicate that close to 1,000 children under the age of 13 are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year. This figure includes children who were pedestrians, bicyclists, and passengers in motor vehicles when theses devastating and tragic accidents occurred.
Common Injuries to Children Injured in a Car Accident
While children can be injured in the same ways that an adult can in a car accident, due to their small size and weight the injuries they suffer tend to be more severe. The IIHS reports that the younger a child is, the more likely they are to suffer severe and potentially life threatening harm when a crash or collision does occur.
Common types of injuries sustained by children in car accidents include: Soft tissues injuries, including muscle and tendon strains, sprains, and tears;
- Soft tissues injuries, including muscle and tendon strains, sprains, and tears;
- Severe cuts and lacerations;
- Broken bones and dislocated joints;
- Burns due to contact with hot fluids or surfaces;
- Back and neck injuries, including fractured vertebrae and spinal cord injuries;
- Head trauma, including skull fractures and concussion.
Children Are at Special Risk of Injuries
Car accident injuries can have more severe and potentially disabling impacts on children than they do on adults. While children often recover more easily from minor injuries, there is always the risk that it can impact their ongoing development.
Traumatic brain injury, which occurs due to a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, is one of the most common and potentially devastating types of injuries that children suffer in accidents. Children have brains that are still developing, so any damage to brain tissue can impede normal development in the future.
Brainline reports that traumatic brain injury, which occurs due to a bump, blow or jolt to the head, is one of the most common and potentially devastating types of injuries suffered by children in accidents. The child may suffer from lasting developmental difficulties, the full impact may not be felt for years after the accident occurs, creating challenges when the child begins to work on higher level schoolwork or when seeking employment.
It is vitally important to get medical attention for your child’s injuries as soon as possible after the accident. Many debilitating and potentially life threatening conditions have symptoms which may take days or weeks to appear. The sooner he or she receives care, the better his or her chance of making a full, timely recovery. Discuss your child’s injury with his or her pediatrician as your child grows. It can potentially impair his or her development or become a concern later.
Even Proper Precautions Cannot Always Protect Children in Crashes
All parents should be aware of the standards for safety for children riding in cars. They should have the proper car seats or booster seats in vehicles according to a child’s age and weight, as well as national guidelines and standards. Parents should properly install this equipment or have a professional, such as a firefighter, install it for them.
However, even if you take all the precautions that safety professionals advise to keep your child safe in the car, they can still suffer serious injuries. The jolt of a rear-end collision can still result in whiplash, other neck injuries, or concussions to your child. A broadside accident can be particularly dangerous, as another car can hit the side of your vehicle, directly where your child is sitting. There is little protection in this kind of crash, and children regularly suffer severe injuries.
Even if your child has the proper restraint system, they can still sustain life-changing injuries in accidents. Discuss your child’s injuries with a car accident law firm as soon as you can.
Seeking Compensation for a Child Injured in a Car Accident
Under Section 12-542 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, in most cases you have up to two years after an accident occurs to file a lawsuit for damages you suffered due to your injuries. Known as the statute of limitations, once this time limit is reached, a victim cannot seek compensation for damages suffered in the accident.
It is important to note that if an individual was injured before his or her 18th birthday, the statute of limitations does not go into effect until that date. This effectively gives children who are injured in car accidents until their 20th birthdays in most cases to file personal injury claims to seek compensation for their damages.
However, there are exceptions to the two year statute of limitations, so it is always best to consult with a personal injury lawyer immediately after an accident. Further, this does not mean that you should wait until your child is an adult to file a personal injury claim for his or her damages.
A minor cannot file their own personal injury claim, so as the parent, it is your job to obtain the necessary evidence to support your claim and work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for your child’s damages. Your child’s damages may be similar to the damages suffered by an adult injured in a car accident.
They will likely include: your child’s current medical expenses, which are compensable to you even if paid by your insurer; and compensation for future costs and expenses you are likely to incur as the result of your child’s injuries.
If your child suffered a permanent injury or disability in the accident, you may also seek compensation for his or her reduced quality of life, impaired ability to earn a living as an adult, and pain and suffering following the accident.
Talk to your lawyer about each of these damages individually. It can be difficult to determine a fair settlement for a child’s reduced ability to earn a living compared to determining one for an adult who has an established work history.
Wrongful Death Claims for Children Who Die in Car Accidents
In the tragic event your child is killed in an accident or dies as a result of their injuries, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. While no amount of money can bring back your loved one or ease your sorrow, this type of claim can give you a sense of justice while helping you meet the heavy expenses your family is likely to incur as you recover.
The child’s parent or legal guardian may file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for the following:
- The child’s burial and funeral expenses;
- The child’s medical bills if he or she received emergency medical care following the accident; and
- The parent’s pain, suffering, and emotional trauma resulting from the child’s death;
- Lost wages and other financial impacts your family has experienced or is likely to undergo in the future.
We Can Help you Seek Compensation for your Child’s Damages
Our team at Abels & Annes, P.C. can help you seek compensation for your child’s damages on his or her behalf by making use of all the available evidence to demonstrate that he or she was injured because of another party’s negligence. The evidence our team may use to support your claim include:
- Your child’s medical records;
- Expert testimony from individuals such as your child’s pediatrician, a child development specialist, or an accident reconstruction specialist who can create a digital rendering of the accident;
- Testimony from witnesses to the accident;
- Photographs of the accident scene; and
- If necessary, testimony from your child to demonstrate his or her emotional trauma and reduced quality of life.
We handle the process of negotiating with the claims adjuster. We advise you to reject any lowball offers received by our law office initially and let us advocate for a fair settlement amount. When working with the adjuster, they may ask us to allow you to give a written or recorded statement about your claim.We do not comply with these requests, as statements can be used against you and used to reduce your compensation amount.
Work with Our Team of Phoenix Car Accident Lawyers
If you or your child have been injured in a car accident, you could be entitled to seek compensation for the resulting damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more, contact our team of Phoenix personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free case evaluation in our office.
We can discuss the fine details of your case and advise you about the next steps to take. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation with our team by using our online form or by calling 855-PHX-LAWYER.