Car crashes remain one of the top causes of serious childhood injuries and deaths. Tragically, Texas consistently has one of the highest childhood car wreck fatality rates in the country. In 2018 alone, 172 kids under the age of 18 died in car crashes in our state.
At Crosley Law, our hearts break every time we see a report of a child injured in a car accident or hit by a car. That’s why we continue to advocate for child safety and fight for victims and their families. Our injury lawyers know that children face significant physical, emotional, and developmental challenges after a car crash, and you can’t approach their injury claims the same way you would an adult’s lawsuit.
The Statistics About Kids in Car Crashes May Surprise You
Unintended injuries are the top cause of childhood death and injuries in the United States, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of these so-called “accidental deaths.” An estimated one in five childhood deaths involves a car wreck. Between 2010 and 2014, 11 kids died every week on average while riding in cars, and that number doesn’t include children on bicycles or child pedestrian deaths.
As a parent, you’ve probably talked with your child about the importance of looking both ways and observing safe bike riding habits. However, you may be surprised to discover that most child fatalities occur when children are passengers, not pedestrians or bicyclists. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 73% of childhood car accident deaths involve a child riding in a car. Pedestrians make up 21% of these tragic losses, and bike riders are only 4%.
There are several reasons why kids are so vulnerable in a car during a crash. First, children’s bodies cannot tolerate the same amount of trauma as an adult; this is especially true for infants and toddlers. Second, most vehicles’ safety systems, like seatbelts and airbags, are not designed specifically for kids. And finally, too many children are not wearing seat belts or using age-appropriate car seats. Between 2010 and 2014, Texas reported that 21% of child passengers who died in a crash were unrestrained.
Childhood Car Accident Injuries Can Create a Lifetime of Challenges
After a car crash, it’s important to seek medical treatment for your child’s injuries. Children can’t always put what they’re feeling into words, and a doctor can help you identify serious injuries and reduce your child’s pain and suffering. However, even when you generally understand your child’s diagnoses, it can be hard to realize their full impact.
Children’s bodies and brains are still developing, and serious injuries like traumatic brain injuries and concussions can lead to developmental and emotional challenges that last a lifetime.
As an example, we represented a very young child with a traumatic brain injury. The insurance company tried to minimize the child’s injuries because the child was meeting basic developmental milestones.
Our injury lawyers worked with experts, including child development specialists and neuropsychologists, to show how the TBI had harmed the child’s still-developing brain. Using this evidence, we were able to resolve the family’s claims and get them a settlement that addressed the true costs of the injury.
Other common childhood car crash injuries include:
- Neck and back damage, from whiplash to spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries, like sprains and strains
- Facial injuries
- Broken bones
- Lacerations and contusions
- Chest injuries, including lung injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Depression and anxiety
When children are out of school, isolated from their peers, and unable to move freely, it can affect their motor skills, social development, and cognitive function. As a parent, you cannot ignore these issues, and you need an injury lawyer who understands how even a seemingly “minor” crash can seriously harm a young child.
What Is a Fair Car Accident Settlement for an Injured Child?
After a car crash, we encourage parents to consult an injury lawyer as soon as possible. Often, the insurance company will reach out to a grieving, anxious parent and offer them a settlement. While the adjuster will assure you that their offer is “fair,” that’s probably not true.
An insurance adjuster’s job is to process and close as many cases as possible for as little money as possible. The insurer won’t automatically take into consideration the lifetime of medical care or your child’s developmental needs when they calculate a settlement offer.
When you work with Crosley Law, we use our years of experience, cutting-edge tactics, and insight from medical, neuropsychology, and life planning experts to precisely calculate your family’s damages. Depending on your circumstances, you may receive compensation for:
- Medical bills associated with your child’s injuries
- Occupational and physical therapy
- Counseling and other mental health services
- Long-term care costs
- Improvements you need to make to your home for your child’s safety
- Lost wages while you care for your child
- Your child’s lost wage-earning capacity
- Your family’s pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (if there was intentional misconduct or a shocking level of recklessness)
Our injury lawyers will also identify all the insurance policies that apply to your child and family’s legal claims, which will help you recover fair compensation for your losses.
We’re not afraid to take cases to trial when necessary. Our personal injury attorneys have built a national reputation for their sophisticated approach to negotiation and trials. Among other strategies, we use advanced technology, focus groups, and cutting-edge research to educate juries and judges about our clients’ legal claims.
When Should I File My Child’s Car Accident Claims?
Compared to an injury claim involving an adult, the filing deadlines for a child’s lawsuit are very complex. You may have read that Texas’ two-year statute of limitations does not start running until your child is 18 years old. While this is true, it doesn’t give you the full picture.
When a child is injured in a car wreck, your family has multiple legal claims:
- Minor child: You can demand compensation for your child’s injuries, pain and suffering, lost wage-earning capacity, the medical care they will need as adults, and other personal damages.
- Parents: As a parent, you’re financially responsible for your child’s medical care. You may also have lost income, mental anguish, and other damages.
If you want compensation for your damages, including your child’s medical bills between the time of the accident and their 18th birthday, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the collision.
“If you want compensation for your damages, including your child’s medical bills between the time of the accident and their 18th birthday, you must file your lawsuit within two years of the collision.”
There are several other reasons to act fast. With the passage of time, evidence becomes stale or goes missing. Insurance policies that may have provided coverage within two years after an accident may be difficult to locate if several years have passed. The best advice is to consult a lawyer sooner rather than later so you can preserve all potential claims relating to your child’s injury.
If you need help calculating your filing deadlines or have questions about your injury claim and the potential damages, contact our office today for a free consultation. One of our team members will listen to your story, educate you about your family’s legal rights, and suggest next steps.
Crosley Law: Fighting for Injured Children and Their Families in Texas
If your child suffered serious injuries in a car crash, Crosley Law can help you understand your legal options. Our San Antonio injury lawyers focus on catastrophic motor vehicle claims, combining aggressive legal tactics with compassionate service. We know that you need a personal injury attorney who can help you regain control and give you the time you need to focus on your child’s recovery.
Bakalar, N. (2017, May 29). Car accidents remain a top child killer, and belts a reliable savior. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/29/health/car-accidents-child-deaths-seat-belts.html
Fatalities by age, person type, and gender. (2018). Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2018/06.pdf
Haelle, T. (2018, December 19). Unintentional injuries top killer of U.S. children. MDedge. Retrieved from https://www.mdedge.com/emergencymedicine/article/191576/pediatrics/unintentional-injuries-top-killer-us-children
Traffic safety facts. (2017, March). National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812383
Wolf, L. L., Chowdhury, R., Tweed, J., Vinson, L., Losina, E., Haider, A. H., & Qureshi, F. G. (2017). Factors Associated with Pediatric Mortality from Motor Vehicle Crashes in the United States: A State-Based Analysis. The Journal of Pediatrics, 187, 295–302.e3. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2017.04.044
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.