It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. You are driving down the road, your child is safely in their child seat in the back, when you are struck by another vehicle. Injuries to yourself or your children from a car accident can be life-threatening. What do you do?
Following an accident, it is important that you take a few steps legally. Children have different requirements than if you are filing a report for your own personal injuries. Included here are a few steps to take following a child injury in a car accident.
The best step to take in any car accident is to call the police. Even if the damage to the vehicle is not severe, you want police documentation that your child was in the vehicle when the accident occurs. In case injuries or ailments arise later, you will have a case to fight.
In serious car accidents, the police will likely already be at the scene and evaluating injuries. Be sure your child is communicating well and able to tell you what hurts. Children often do not receive the same legal opportunities as adults and can fall through the cracks during insurance payments. Ensure your child is responsive and cooperative to police questioning so everything is well documented.
Speak with Insurance
In a perfect world, insurance companies would pay for the requested damages without putting you through a legal battle, but this world isn’t perfect. Often, insurance companies may attempt to write off a child’s injuries in a car accident to avoid payment. If this happens, you will have to hire a lawyer to take the opposing insurance company to court.
Take it To Court
Most lawsuits regarding car accident injuries lead to a settlement. As a parent, you will be filing this suit on behalf of your child as their legal guardian. If you sustained injuries yourself, you will likely sue as well during these court proceedings. All amounts to be paid should cover legal and medical expenses as well as reimburse you for lost work and additional time spent caring for an injured child.
If the insurance company is refusing to agree to a settlement, you will need to go to trial. In the event of a trial, you must have ample documentation of everything that has occurred. Pictures of the accident, as well as witnesses and evidence of fault, will need to be produced at trial to reach a favorable settlement.
Minor’s Compromise Petitions
Following a court settlement, the parents must sign on their child’s behalf. Terms must be agreed upon regarding how much money will go to your child and where it will be kept in trust until your child is old enough to claim it. This petition will detail how much money must go to medical bills, legal fees and the parents before your child’s portion will be sent to trust. In most cases, your child’s settlement will be accessible to them at the age of 18.