If you're a parent, the last thing you want is to have to see your child suffer.
That's why car accidents can be especially terrifying.
Typically, personal injury cases involved car accidents involving adults.
But what happens if a child causes the accident, or even worse if a child is injured?
Personal injury law works under the assumption that children don't have the same well-informed judgment as adults.
That's why there are special rules for compensation and liability for motor vehicle accidents involving children.
A personal injury could severely impact your child's life and cause temporary pain and discomfort, permanent disability, psychological disorders, and other chronic issues.
That's why it's important to work with a skilled personal car accident attorney so you can maximize your child's chances to make a complete recovery and live a healthy and fulfilling life.
The differences between a car accident claim for an adult and a child can have a significant impact on your ability to get your child compensation for their damages, and your car accident lawyer can help you navigate these differences.
In the article below, our car accident attorneys will dive deeper into car accident claims for children and some key differences between a personal injury claim for an adult and a child.
Injuries to Children
The procedure for getting compensation for a minor (someone under 18) can vary from state to state, but a child still has the right to compensation for any damage sustained in the car crash.
Damages people can seek for the children include pain and suffering, permanent injury, emotional distress, and disability.
Also, a parent usually has a separate right to be compensated for medical bills paid on behalf of a child.
A child obviously won't be able to negotiate the settlement of a personal injury claim, so a parent will be permitted to negotiate on their behalf.
Or, their parent can hire a car accident lawyer to negotiate on their behalf.
In a few states, parents have to get a judge's approval before their child's claim can be settled.
This is a relatively straightforward process that won't take a lot of time.
It typically only involves filling out a form and filing it with the court for approval.
When you settle with an insurance company to receive compensation for the damage sustained in your child's accident, the insurer can provide you with the proper forms and how to file them.
It's in the best interest of the insurance companies to make sure that the settlement is properly filed and approved so that a lawyer for the child doesn’t go to court months or years later and claim that the child is entitled to more money.
Potential Recoverable Damages
If a child is injured in a car wreck due to the negligence of other drivers, they will be entitled to compensation that will cover their:
- Current Medical bills
- Continued Medical Care
- Therapy services like chiropractic care
- Loss of ability to earn income in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment if they have a job
Sometimes a parent or legal guardian can receive compensation for the financial losses they have suffered, such as the ongoing medical expenses for their child.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case and your specific situation, victims can also be awarded punitive damages.
Punitive damages are reserved for especially severe cases in which a personal injury attorney found a defendant’s behavior to be extraordinarily reckless, willful, or negligent.
Punitive damages are geared to punish defendants and to keep others from acting similarly.
How Car Accident Claims Are Different For Children
Child Injury Claims Require Court Approval
One of the biggest differences between a car accident claim for a child and an adult is that even if the parties agree to a settlement, a judge can reject a settlement or even a verdict in a child's case.
The courts will always have the child's best interest in mind, so to ensure that the child's guardian act's accordingly, the court will often appoint a representative to analyze the case files and report on whether the parents did uphold the child’s interests.
If it's found that they didn't, the court can dismiss the case entirely.
In most cases, parents or guardians will have the child's best interest in mind during a car accident case.
However, mistakes can still be made even by the most well-intentioned people.
That's why parents should always consult an experienced car accident attorney before proceeding with their claim.
If a parent chooses to represent their child when filing a claim against negligent drivers, there is a huge chance that errors will be made to have their child’s claim dismissed or receiving a substantially lower settlement.
Minors Have Extended Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations laws describes how long you have to file an injury claim after an accident.
Although it can vary from state to state, the statute of limitations is two years after the accident.
But a personal injury lawsuit involving a child has two extensions.
The first statute extends to two years after their 18th birthday.
This gives the child time to file their own claim after becoming a legal adult instead of having their parent or guardian file for them.
The second extension is two years after an injury was discovered.
Some injuries, especially in children, won't be discovered until bones, muscles, joints, or even their brain have time to develop.
This extension allows parents to file a claim for an accident settlement two years after a doctor diagnosed an injury resulting from the accident.
Minors Aren't Allowed To File a Personal Injury Claim
A child under the age of 18 can't file an accident claim on their own.
But they can have a parent or guardian file a claim on their behalf.
This process is very similar to the typical process of filing a claim, but there are a few differences.
Or, if the involved parties prefer, they can wait until the child turns 18 to file their own claim.
While this option is always on the table, it typically isn't the best option because it's possible to lose crucial evidence over time.
But if the child is close to turning 18, they could benefit from working with a personal injury attorney themselves and file by filing a statute of limitations extension to avoid the complications of filing a personal injury claim with a parent or guardian.