It's especially heartbreaking when children are the victims of another's carelessness.
In addition to the steps you should typically take after an accident, there are a few extra precautions you probably should take if your child has been involved in an accident:
1) See Doctors Who Specialize in Working With Children
Children often don't have the experiences, bodily awareness, or sometimes even verbal ability, to tell you what hurts and how the accident may have affected them.
Even if the accident was minor, it's always a good idea to have your child checked out by a doctor who specializes in children's care, like a pediatrician. Some serious injuries, such as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), may not have visible symptoms.
Also, children may internalize the trauma of an accident, so it is generally a good practice to have them undergo some sort of psychological evaluation - even if it's just talking with a school counselor.
Any time that you have to take off of work to care for your child should be covered by the at-fault driver's liability insurance, but be sure to document your time and keep all paperwork related to your child's medical care and insurance claim.
2) You May Need to Replace Your Child Safety Seat(s)
The force of an accident can compromise the safety of your child's car seat. If you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions published by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association, you may need to replace your child's safety seat:
- Was the vehicle unable to be driven away from the crash site?
- Was vehicle door nearest the safety seat damaged?
- Were any of the other vehicle occupants injured?
- Did the air bags (if present) deploy?
- Is there any visible damage to the safety seat?
The at-fault insurance company should help you pay for new safety seats, if necessary.
But do NOT dispose of your old car seat. Keep it, along with the child's unwashed clothing and any other damaged items, as these may be useful evidence later on.
3) Try to Make Sure the Insurance Company Takes Your Child's Injuries Seriously
In accidents involving children, insurance companies may have a tendency to undervalue the "losses" and damages to the child.
And keep in mind insurance agents are not paid to look out for your best interests, no matter how helpful or friendly they may seem. Anything you say can be used against you later.
Since so much is at stake when a child is injured, it's generally a good idea to have an attorney review your case before you settle, sign anything, give a recorded statement, or even just talk to the insurance company.
Many personal injury attorneys will do this sort of review for free.
Afterwards, if you decide to hire a lawyer, he or she may be able to help you build a stronger case by contacting witnesses, gathering physical evidence or hiring experts to reconstruct the accident and help you try to make sure your child's needs (both immediate and future needs) are accounted for- this is especially important if your child's injuries were significant.
We're not just attorneys. We're mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles.
Helping to protect innocent people (like your child) is why our firm exists. If you have any questions about what may be best for your child, we want to help. Please call us at 1-866-900-7078.