Getting into a car accident can range from irritating to horrifying. And, if you were traveling with a child, the feelings are heightened tenfold. Is your baby ok? How can you ensure they remain as safe as possible until they can receive medical care? What are the most common injuries sustained in crashes by children? What else should you keep in mind? Every year, there are approximately 746,488 children involved in car accidents — and about 828 fatalities. So knowing what to do to protect your own is crucial.
Car Accident With a Child Passenger
While every motorist on the road owes a duty of care towards other drivers, there are certain responsibilities required by law when you’re driving with a child in your motor vehicle. Specifically, Florida Statutes section 316.613 establishes the following:
- Car Seats. Children younger than five years of age are required to travel on a crash-tested, federally-approved restraint device. Children who are four or five years old may use a booster seat. If the child is younger than three years of age, they must sit in a baby car seat. Children two years of age or younger should be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Always read the car seat’s manual when installing it.
- Seat belts. Passengers in motor vehicles are required to always wear a seat belt while the car is in motion. If a police officer notices a child — or any passenger — in a car not wearing a seatbelt, the driver will be pulled over for a traffic violation. If you’re pregnant, always wear the chest strap over your chest (never under your arm), and the lap belt securing your lap (never under your belly).
- Airbags. Children under the age of 12 should always sit in the back seat of a motor vehicle since airbags in the front seat could be dangerous for a child when deployed. In most other cases, airbags are designed to protect you or your passengers in the event of a crash.
Most Common Injuries in Children Involved in a Car Accident
Due to their smaller frame, children are more prone to becoming injured during a car accident. The most common injuries suffered by minors in crashes include the following:
- Head injuries. These include whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, contusions, lacerations, unconsciousness, and skull fractures. In addition to being life-threatening, these types of injuries can also cause cognitive difficulties, behavioral problems, and developmental issues.
- Thoracic injuries. These include fractured ribs, lung injuries, and internal injuries. In addition to injuries caused by high-speed impacts, the restraints from the seatbelt and car seat themselves can worsen them — which is more likely to occur when not fastened correctly.
- Bone fractures. It’s common for children involved in car accidents to suffer fractures in their wrists and ankles as they brace for impact. If the seatbelt or car seat is not installed correctly, they are also at higher risk of fracturing their pelvis.
- Permanent disabilities. These may be the result of catastrophic accidents — such as rollover accidents and high-speed frontal collisions. They may include spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, or loss of limbs.
- Psychological injuries. Car accidents can cause emotional problems and post-traumatic stress disorder even in adults. Children, in particular, may need to seek therapy for months after an accident to help them cope with their feelings and anxiety during the aftermath.
Next Steps After a Child Is Injured in a Car Accident
The first step is to seek medical attention. Then, you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney. There are many factors that should be considered when fighting to obtain compensation for your damages. Some of these include:
- Medical bills
- Future medical costs
- Cost of psychological therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death
- Your time missed from work while dealing with the accident outcomes
While your own insurance company’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will cover up to $10,000 of medical bills, it only covers 80% of your out-of-pocket expenses. If your damages are more than $10,000 and the other party was at fault, you’ll have to file a lawsuit and a claim against the other driver’s insurance company.
Call us at Clark Law for a Consultation
There are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident and a child was injured, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.