What to Do if Your Child is Injured in a Car Accident
Indiana law requires that parents put their children in car or booster seats. However, even when riding in these seats young children can suffer serious injuries when involved in a car accident. As parents, we would do anything for our children, but the steps taken after an accident are critical to receiving adequate compensation. Our Indianapolis car accident lawyer outlines the steps to take below.
Call the Police & Get Insurance Information
These are steps you would take after any car accident, even ones without your children. The police officer can come to the scene and write up a crash report, which is helpful when making an insurance claim.
Obtaining insurance and driver information is also vital. If you don’t know who hit you, then you’ll never get any compensation. Swap both driver’s license and insurance information with all drivers involved in the wreck.
Take Your Child to the Hospital
A child’s injuries can be difficult to diagnose. This isn’t as surprising as it might sound. Very young children cannot talk very well, so they can’t tell you exactly what they are feeling. Doctors often rely on information about patient discomfort to locate injuries. With children, all they might do is cry.
Ideally, you should get your child to the hospital to be examined. A doctor might order tests, like x-rays, to check what is going on in your child’s body. Going to the doctor or hospital is also key even if your child claims to feel fine. Some injuries naturally develop later, but you at least want some medical records from soon after the accident.
Watch Your Child Closely
Doctors might not easily diagnose all injuries. For example, if your child suffered a brain injury, then you might not realize something is wrong for a few days. We encourage parents to watch their children closely. If you think your child is getting worse, return to the hospital or schedule an appointment with your pediatrician.
Meet Quickly with an Attorney
One issue that crops up regularly in cases involving injury to a child is comparative fault. Although a child in a booster seat in the back seat is blameless, the parent driving the car could have contributed to the accident. Indiana apportions fault between more than one party in personal injury lawsuits. Generally, a parent’s negligence is not attributed to the child. However, the parent might end up named as a non-party, and their negligence matters at that point: It can reduce the liability of the other driver.
We encourage parents to quickly meet with an attorney to review the evidence. An attorney can walk a parent through what happened in the moments leading up to the accident. You can expect an insurance adjuster to try and amplify a parent’s degree of fault to reduce liability.
A child under 18 cannot file a lawsuit; instead, his or her parents or legal guardian can. Parents should contact an attorney to learn more about the settlement process.
Accessing Settlement Money
A child’s personal injury case is a legal claim that belongs to the child. For that reason, any money obtained also belongs to the child. When the settlement is for more than $10,000, the court will appoint a guardian to receive the proceeds.
At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we understand all the steps necessary for making a claim when a child is injured. Call us today to set up a free consultation where we can go more in depth.