Was Your Child Injured In A Car Accident?
Was your child injured in a car accident? If so, you may be concerned about your child and confused about what to do next. Children can be hurt in car accidents that were caused by another person's negligence. Like adult victims, child accident victims have a right to seek compensation for their injuries. However, children cannot legally handle their own legal claims and will need their parents' help. Advocating for your child is crucial following a car accident. Consider contacting an experienced lawyer at The Mark Casto Law Firm, PC by calling (706) 940-4030 to learn more about the compensation your child may be entitled to receive.
Differences Between Child and Adult Injury Claims
It is important that parents understand the differences between child and adult injury claims. Some of the most important distinctions include:
- Who brings the claim
- Multiple claims
- Court appointments
- Court approval for settlements
Who Brings the Claim
In a typical personal injury claim when an adult is injured, the adult can usually file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. However, Georgia does not allow minors to bring forth personal injury claims on their own behalf. According to the Georgia Code, a minor is anyone under the age of legal majority, which is 18 years. Instead, the child's parent or legal guardian must advance the case for the minor child.
There are generally two types of claims filed when a child is injured in a car accident. The first compensates the parents who have been economically affected by the accident. The second is for the sole benefit of the child to compensate him or her for pain and suffering and other losses.
The court may appoint various individuals to protect the child's interests. For example, a Guardian Ad Litem may be appointed to serve as the child's lawyer or agent. This individual is responsible for protecting the child's rights and interests during the litigation process. If money is recovered for the claim, the court may order that it be placed in a trust and appoint a trustee to safeguard the money for the child.
Court Approval for Settlements
According to the Georgia Code, the court is required to approve settlements for minor claimants when the gross settlement is $15,000 or more.
Common Childhood Injuries in Car Accidents
Because of their smaller stature and because their bodies are still growing, children may be more susceptible to certain types of injuries in car accidents, including:
- Head and brain injuries, such as concussions or skull fractures
- Broken and crushed bones
- Internal organ damage and bleeding
- Arm and leg injuries
- Chest injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Lung injuries
Possible Recoverable Damages in Child Car Accident Claims
In child injury claims, there may be two distinct claims as mentioned earlier. The first compensates the parents for expenses they are responsible for, such as medical expenses. The parents may also be able to recover compensation for wages lost while caring for the child or for other financial consequences they suffered because of the child's injuries.
The second claim is for the benefit of the child to compensate the child for all other losses suffered due to the accident and injury. Some potential damages that may be awarded to a child injured in a car accident include:
- Medical expenses the child will incur after reaching the age of majority
- Psychological and emotional distress, especially if the child suffers from nightmares, depression, anxiety, trauma, or stress because of the accident
- Physical pain and suffering
- Reduction in future earning capacity if the child's ability to make a living as an adult was negatively affected because of the accident and injury
Time Limit To File a Claim
The time limit to file a particular legal claim is called a statute of limitations. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means that Georgia parents can file a claim on behalf of their child up to two years following the accident. However, a child can file his or her own claim after turning 18. Based on the two-year statute, following the child's eighteenth birthday, his or her twentieth birthday becomes the deadline to file a claim for injuries suffered in a childhood car accident.
Even though Georgia law allows up to two years to file a lawsuit following a car accident, a lawyer will need time to review and investigate a claim before filing. The Mark Casto Law Firm, PC offers a free consultation to discuss your case and determine how the team can help. Be sure to act quickly to avoid being left without any legal recourse or options for recovery.
What To Do If Your Child Was Injured in a Car Accident
If your child is injured in a car accident, you will want to take several immediate steps to protect your child's health and legal interests. The following is a brief checklist of action steps to take after a car accident:
- Check for injuries—Look for noticeable injuries, such as lacerations, contusions, or fractures, on your child immediately after an accident. Also, monitor your child for possible signs of injury, such as loss of consciousness, irritability, or changed behaviors, especially if your child is young and unable to communicate problems.
- Report the accident—Do not leave things to chance when your child's interests are on the line. Report the accident immediately and request an ambulance if you suspect that your child was injured.
- Seek medical treatment—Immediately following the accident, seek medical treatment for your child. Be sure to let his or her healthcare provider know about the accident and follow the doctor's orders and treatment plans.
- Replace the car seat—If your child was riding in a car seat when the accident occurred, replace the seat. The seat's safety can be compromised, and there may be damage that you cannot see.
- Meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer—Consider contacting a lawyer with experience handling injury claims for children.
Contact a Lawyer for Help with Your Claim
Was your child injured in a car accident? You do not have to go through the process of seeking compensation for your child alone. If your child's injury was due to someone else's negligence, consider contacting The Mark Casto Law Firm, PC by calling (706) 940-4030 to schedule a free consultation.