If your child was involved in a car accident, you may be feeling a bad mix of emotions and feel overwhelmed or not know what to do. Here are the essential things you should consider as you move forward.
Getting Appropriate Medical Assistance Should Be Your Number One Concern
If your child was in an auto accident, your top priority should be to get your child appropriate medical care. Even if your child shows no signs of serious injury, you should have them examined by a pediatrician experienced with automobile trauma. This is because some injuries may not be readily apparent. Additionally, very young children such as toddlers and babies may not be able to tell you where they are experiencing pain or how the pain feels.
Although paying for medical expenses can be a daunting thought, you should make sure your child receives proper treatment for any injuries and then seek financial compensation from liable parties. Do not wait until you have settled with insurance companies to start getting treatment for your child.
Determining Liability When a Child Is Involved Can Be More Complicated Than When Adults Are Involved
When adults are involved in a car crash, liability is relatively easy to determine. Usually one or more drivers is at fault and, occasionally, car manufacturers or mechanics are also liable. However, with children, liability can get more complicated. Your lawyer may need the help of experts to determine if the manufacturer of your child's car seat may be liable or if another adult who buckled your child into the car seat may also be responsible for some of your child's injuries. This can take more time than an adult case.
You May Be Able to File a Claim Against Both Drivers On Behalf of Your Child
Passengers generally have the right to file a claim against both drivers if both drivers are determined to be liable for the accident. Children also have the right to seek compensation for their injuries from both drivers, even if one of the drivers is their parent. In some cases, if the parent of the child is at fault, it is imperative for the other parent to file a claim on the child's behalf in order for the insurance company to pay out a settlement. If you are uncomfortable filing a claim against your child's parent, then you may want to seek a court-appointed guardian to file the claim on their behalf.
Children Usually Have Until Two Years After Their 18th Birthday to File a Lawsuit
In most cases, adults have one or two years after an accident to file a lawsuit. This is known as a statue of limitations. However, minors usually have until their 18th birthday plus the statue of limitations to file a lawsuit for an accident they were in. This is because a child cannot legally file a lawsuit on their own behalf. However, if a parent or court-appointed guardian already filed a lawsuit on behalf of a child, they will not be able to re-open a case. An exception to this is if multiple people were found liable for the child's injuries but only one party was sued. In that case, the child may still sue the other responsible party when the child turns 18.
The Positioning of a Child Safety Seat or Of Your Child May Determine Liability
Each state has specific laws regarding where a child is allowed to sit in a vehicle and what kinds of restraints are acceptable. In some states, if you are not following these laws, then the responsible driver after an accident may not be liable for your child's injuries. In some states, you or the driver of the vehicle your child is in may be found liable for your child's injuries if your child was improperly restrained.
If your child was involved in an auto accident, their case may be more complicated than an adult's. It is important to consult with an auto accident attorney to find out your child's rights and your obligations as a parent.