Any car accident can be stressful, but one that involves your child is even more devastating. Your child needs immediate medical attention. Then, you should take a series of steps to make sure you get the compensation you need to cover your child’s expenses while they heal.
If you have questions about your specific case, attorney David I. Fuchs can help. We have helped countless children and their families recover the money they need to move forward after a car crash.
Contact us for a free consultation.
How Was Your Child Injured in the Car Accident?
Children are often seriously injured in even the most minor of car accidents because they are smaller than adults, and the crash’s force has a significant impact on their bodies. Some common injuries children sustain in car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Broken bones and fractures
- Soft tissue damage (bruises, scrapes, and lacerations)
- Seat belt and car seat injuries
- Airbag injuries
Some of these injuries can be difficult to identify after a crash. You might not know what steps to take after your child is hurt in a car accident. Here are some of the first things to take care of:
You will need a police officer to make a car accident report describing what happened in the accident. They may also issue the at-fault party a citation. This can help when you need to establish liability and file a personal injury lawsuit.
Get Medical Treatment Right Away
When you call 911, always ask for a pediatric ambulance. If you are wondering, “Should I take my kid to the hospital after a car crash?” The answer is: “Yes.” Take your child directly to an emergency room, trauma center, or children’s hospital. Your child needs to be evaluated from head to toe to determine if they have severe or hidden injuries. This step is also important to establish the severity of your child’s injuries, which is essential when seeking compensation from the insurance company.
Document the Scene of the Accident
If you can move around the accident scene, take pictures of the car damage and your child’s injuries. Make sure you take photos and video of the environment, weather, signs, traffic lights, traffic cameras, and road markings. These images will be used to prove negligence to the car insurance company.
Get Information from Other Drivers & Witnesses
Ask for the names and contact information of all other involved drivers and bystanders who witnessed the crash. You should take a picture of other drivers’ licenses and insurance cards.
Notify Your Car Insurance Company
Most insurance companies require that you notify them within 24 hours of an accident. You should do this via phone or online. Tell them you will give them a statement of what happened once you talk to your Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer. However, you do need to notify them and give them the basic details of the parties involved, where the accident occurred, and where your child was treated for injuries.
Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance should cover your child’s medical bills if they were riding in your car and received medical treatment within 14 days of the accident.
What If My Child Was the Passenger in Another Person’s Car?
You should follow these steps even if your child was in a crash while in another person’s vehicle. Make sure your child gets immediate medical treatment. If you can get to the scene of the accident, take pictures and videos, collect information from everyone involved, and notify the appropriate insurance companies.
Next Steps in Dealing with a Florida Car Accident Involving a Child
Once you have handled the initial tasks at the scene of the crash, there are additional steps you will need to take.
Contact a Child Injury Lawyer in Florida
After a car crash hurts kids, you need an attorney who knows relevant laws and how to handle cases involving children. There will be small details about your child’s medical care and experts who offer opinions about their future needs. Only an experienced child injury lawyer will know how to use that information to support your case.
Continue Your Child’s Medical Treatment
You should schedule a follow-up with your pediatrician as soon as possible after your child’s emergency room visit. They can further evaluate your child and recommend any future medical needs. They may also order special tests, such as x-rays or MRIs, and specialized treatment like physical therapy.
Determine Which Insurance Benefits Apply
Your personal injury attorney will determine which insurance policies apply to your child and how much money is available for compensation. PIP insurance may pay for a certain amount of medical bills and your child’s health insurance. Many drivers in Florida are from out of state and have bodily injury liability, which will cover a significant amount of damages. You may also be able to use your uninsured/underinsured car insurance.
The Time Limit for Filing a Child Injury Lawsuit
It’s essential to act quickly if your child was injured in a car accident in Florida. There is a time limit, or “statute of limitations,” within which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. If you do not file a claim within that deadline, you may forfeit your right to compensation.
In Florida, you generally have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. However, the statute of limitations may pause, or “toll,” and not begin for up to seven years when the victim is a child under Florida Statute 95.051(i).
Negotiate with the Insurance Company
Your attorney will determine how much your child’s case is worth and then present a settlement request, or “demand,” to the insurance company. The insurance company will likely turn down the initial offer and make a “lowball” settlement offer that will not cover all your losses. You should never take the insurance company’s initial offer. Instead, let your attorney go back and forth with them to reach a settlement.
Consider a Settlement or Take the Matter to Trial
If you cannot reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, your attorney can draft a Complaint and file your child’s car accident lawsuit. Sometimes the insurance company is more willing to settle after a lawsuit has been filed. However, if they do not want to settle, your attorney can take your case to trial.
Things to Consider When a Child is Involved in a Car Accident
Car accidents involving children can be scary. You may not know what steps to take or where to turn for help. Here are some things to keep in mind if your child is involved in a crash.
- Children under the age of 12 should be appropriately restrained in safety seats in the back seat of a vehicle.
- Even if your child was not in a car seat, you could recover compensation.
- Teen drivers must comply with many laws. If they violate those laws, they may be considered negligent if they cause a crash.
- Children may get compensation from PIP, bodily injury liability, or a personal injury lawsuit.
A Fort Lauderdale Child Injury Lawyer Can Help You After a Crash
If your child was involved in a car crash, you need to act fast. There are statutes of limitations established by insurance companies as well as Florida laws. Even if you were partially at fault, you could help your child get compensation for their injuries after a wreck.
Contact attorney David I. Fuchs for more information about your specific case. We are ready with answers to your questions.