As a father, I can not imagine a worse scenario than to see your son or daughter injured in a car accident. Unfortunately, over 250,000 kids are injured each year in car crashes and auto accidents are the number one cause of death for children under 14 years of age. There are several unique problems that can arise when the injured party is a child, and it is helpful to speak with a personal injury attorney to understand your child's rights.
There are two common scenarios in which children are injured in car accidents. First, the child is a pedestrian, either struck while playing in the street, or while getting onto or off of a school bus. Second, the child is a passenger in a car that is struck by an at fault driver. Let's examine each situation.
Child as Pedestrian
It is an unfortunate tragedy but children are struck and severely injured every day in this Country while they are outside playing in the street. A driver proceeding through an area known to have children present (i.e. a residential neighborhood, or school zone) must proceed with caution. Children, especially very young ones, are curious and impulsive. These characteristics make it foreseeable that a child may run into traffic without warning. If the child was visible in the open road, or if it was foreseeable that a child could run into an open road, the driver of the automobile may be responsible for the injuries to the child.
Children are also victim to car accidents as pedestrians while entering and exiting school buses. By law, drivers must stop for all school buses. Sometimes inattentive drivers fail to see the stopped school bus and strike defenseless children. School bus drivers might also take shortcuts and fail to properly stop traffic or employ monitors to ensure a child's safety. In such cases, the school bus operator may be liable for the victims injuries.
Finally, children can be injured while in a parking lot. Each year, 2500 kids are injured in parking lot accidents. Distracted drivers looking for a parking space may not see children walking or standing in the lot. The majority of children in these types of accidents are under 4 years old.
Children as Passenger in Car
Children, like any passenger in a car accident, are entitled to make a personal injury claim if they have been hurt. Children can be seriously hurt even if riding in a safe and secure car seat. Furthermore, children are injured if they are not in a proper car seat. Studies show that many children are overweight for the car seat that they are using, and that many children who are out of car seats are not yet ready for adult seat belts alone.
A Child's Injury Claim
Injuries to children are extremely serious. A permanent injury can greatly affect the course of a child's life and detract from their overall quality of life. It can also mean decades of future medical expenses and care, and may even effect the potential future earnings of the child. Scarring and disfigurement is also extremely serious for children because they will have to endure the taunts and ridicule of other kids and will have to live their entire life with a noticeable flaw. This results in extreme emotional and psychological pain.
A child injured in an accident is entitled to:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Future pain and suffering for permanent injuries
- Loss of earning capacity (if injury impacts childs ability to work in the future)