How Compensation Works for Children Involved in Car Accidents

Key Points:

  • Children are particularly vulnerable in car accidents due to their smaller size and less developed bodies, making immediate medical attention crucial.
  • Parents or legal guardians must file car accident claims on behalf of their children, as minors cannot represent themselves, ensuring each person involved files separate claims for appropriate compensation.
  • Accidents should be reported to the relevant insurance company based on the vehicle and driver involved, with passengers never considered at fault and eligible for compensation regardless of circumstances like not wearing a seatbelt.

It is devastating for a parent to learn that their child was injured in a car wreck, whether it happened in their own car or someone else’s. Any car accident is stressful, but knowing your child was involved adds an extra layer of anxiety. Children are particularly vulnerable in accidents due to their smaller size and less developed bodies and muscles, making them more susceptible to severe injuries. This vulnerability is part of the reason why children are not allowed to sit by an airbag in a vehicle; their bodies cannot withstand the impact of an airbag. Additionally, children are often unaware of the driving conditions around them and rarely brace for impact, making accidents a greater surprise and shock. Their developing bodies may also recover more slowly and face more complications. Ensuring their rights and securing proper compensation for their injuries is crucial for their long-term health and well-being.

What Should a Parent Do if Their Child Was Injured in a Car Accident?

Children often struggle to accurately communicate if they are okay or if something is wrong. There is always a possibility that your child could have suffered a less visible and more silent injury, such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury. Your role as a parent is vital in helping a child after a car accident. The first and most important thing you can do is ensure your child receives immediate medical attention. Delays in medical care can be detrimental to your child’s health and recovery. Even if you are concerned about the cost, auto insurance may provide coverage, and your child’s well-being should be the highest priority.

The second important step is to ensure your child does not miss any follow-up appointments. Consistently attending all medical appointments will aid in a quicker recovery.

The third crucial step is to ensure your child follows the advice and recommendations of a competent medical professional. Adhering to these three important steps will give your child the highest chance of recovery and will also help build a strong car accident claim.

Other steps include documenting everything, and filing a legal claim to ensure that you’re compensated for your childs medical expenses.

Understanding Accident Negligence for Children

Why Does It Matter If Children Are Passengers in Car Accidents?

Passengers are never considered at fault or liable for a car accident because they are not in control of the vehicle. This is important because if your child was riding with a friend’s parent and an accident occurred, compensation is guaranteed if your child is injured, as long as there is available insurance coverage. The issue of negligence does not apply to passengers; even if your child was not wearing a seatbelt, they can still qualify for compensation if injured.

What if the Parent is at fault for a Car Accident? Is Compensation Still Available for their Child’s Injuries?

Auto insurance coverage extends to all passengers of the at-fault driver, whether they are the driver’s own children or another parent’s children. However, it’s important to note that pain and suffering compensation is generally not available for the at-fault driver’s children. This type of compensation is typically only awarded when a person hires a car accident lawyer. It’s also worth noting that if you are at fault, you cannot sue your own insurance company for an accident you caused.

Filing a Car Accident Claim for a Child

How Is the Process Handled When a Child Is Injured in Someone Else’s Car?

This situation is quite common because children often carpool, and carpooling does not protect them from potential car accident injuries. While their expenses are primarily medical, the overall claim can be more complicated. Sometimes auto insurance companies do not proactively seek out the child or their parent, making it the parent’s responsibility to file a claim. However, the parent might not always have the insurance and contact information for the responsible driver, as they were not at the accident scene. The driver responsible for the accident is liable for covering all related expenses. Ideally, the carpool driver should provide the necessary contact information for their insurance company so a claim can be properly filed on behalf of the child.

Once the child has received all necessary medical care, the next step is to contact the auto insurance company to report the incident and the injuries. If the accident is not reported, recovering any compensation will be impossible. Even if the child was injured in another vehicle, it is critical to report the accident to the insurance company.

Which Insurance Company Do I Report the Accident to for my Child?

If your child is involved in an accident, report it to the insurance company covering the vehicle they were driving, the other driver’s insurance if another driver was at fault, or the vehicle owner’s insurance if your child was a passenger. For accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers, use your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. For pedestrian or bicycle accidents, report to the at-fault driver’s insurance, and for school bus accidents, notify the school district’s insurance and potentially your own auto insurance.

Are Children’s Legal Claims Naturally Included in Car Accident Claims?

When reporting an accident, auto insurance agents and adjusters will ask about all individuals in the car. If children are involved, their compensation must be claimed by their legal guardians, meaning parents must file a separate claim with the responsible auto insurance company. Even if the parents were driving and want to include their children in the claim, each claim must still be filed separately. This is because auto insurance coverage is often per person. For instance, if the policy limit is $50,000 for bodily injury, it typically applies to each person. Therefore, each person involved in the accident must file their own claim to receive compensation. This approach allows for more compensation overall, as each person could receive up to $50,000, rather than sharing a combined limit of $50,000 for the entire accident.

Does a Child’s Car Accident Legal Claim Need to Be Filed By a Legal Guardian or Parent?

Yes, children cannot call an auto insurance company and file a claim on their own. It must be done by an adult, specifically their parent or legal guardian, to ensure the child’s interests are properly represented. Additionally, the adult guardian must contact a car accident lawyer on behalf of the child. The lawyer will require the parent or guardian to sign the fee agreement, not the child.

Will My Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage on My Auto Insurance Cover My Child’s Injuries?

If your child was in another vehicle that got into an accident and the available insurance coverage was not sufficient to cover your child’s injuries, you might be able to use your Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM). This depends on the specifics of your policy. Many auto insurance policies include “dependents” within the same household, but this is not guaranteed in all policies. We highly recommend having a car accident lawyer review your policy or speaking closely with your insurance agent to understand your coverage.

Is the Statute of Limitations Extended for Children Injured in a Car Accident?

Yes, in the state of Georgia, the statute of limitations is extended for children injured in a car accident. Generally, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Georgia is two years from the date of the accident. However, for minors, this period is extended. The statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child reaches the age of 18. This means that a child injured in a car accident has until their 20th birthday to file a personal injury claim.

Compensation for a Child Injured in a Car Accident

What Types of Compensation Can a Child Receive After a Car Accident?

Since a child is only a passenger in the accident, the compensation typically centers on medical expenses. When a parent or guardian hires a car accident attorney, they can pursue compensation not only for past and future medical costs but also for pain and suffering. Additionally, if the at-fault driver was reckless or intoxicated, there may be a possibility of securing punitive damages.

Can a Child Receive Compensation for Long-Term Negative Impacts from an Accident?

Yes, if there is available insurance coverage and it is proven that the car accident has negatively impacted the child’s life, requiring additional care or resulting in disability, there is a possibility of securing a higher settlement to cover these expenses. The car accident lawyer must demonstrate that the child has long-term disabilities and that the car accident is responsible for these damages. If the coverage is available and the lawyer can successfully prove fault, the injuries from the accident, and how the child’s life has changed, there is a good chance of obtaining a maximum settlement.

Who Handles or Obtains the Settlement Check on Behalf of an Injured Child?

For settlements under $15,000, the legal guardian or parent can take the settlement check without any issues. For settlements exceeding $15,000, the process involves obtaining court approval to ensure the settlement is fair and in the child’s best interest. A guardian ad litem may be appointed by the court to oversee the settlement. The settlement is typically structured to provide periodic payments or placed into a trust account, such as a blocked account or special needs trust. The legal guardian, often the parents or a court-appointed guardian, manages the funds under court supervision, ensuring they are used solely for the child’s benefit and providing regular reports to the court. Upon reaching the age of 18, the child usually gains control of the remaining funds or begins receiving structured payments.

Who Receives Compensation for a Child Injured in a Car Accident if the Parents are Divorced?

In Georgia, when a child is injured in a car accident and the parents are divorced, the compensation is typically managed by the parent who has legal guardianship or custody of the child. This parent is responsible for making decisions regarding the child’s welfare and handling any settlement funds. If both parents share legal custody and cannot agree on how the compensation should be used, the court may intervene to determine the appropriate allocation and management of the funds to ensure they serve the best interest of the child.

Miscellaneous FAQS About Children Involved Car Accident Legal Claims

How Are Injury Accident Claims Different for Children than for Adults?

Children’s car accident claims differ in several significant ways from those involving adults.

First, children are not at fault for the accident since they are not the ones driving. This is crucial because driver negligence can reduce compensation. While compensation might be affected if the child’s parent was driving and found at fault, the child does not have to worry about making poor driving decisions.

Second, children do not own the vehicle, so concerns about getting the auto insurance company to pay for vehicle damages do not apply.

Third, children typically do not have incomes or jobs, so lost income or used PTO are rarely factors in their cases. However, if they suffer long-term disabilities that affect their future ability to work, this could be considered.

The primary focus for children involved in car accidents is recovering from their injuries. Consequently, medical bills and compensation for pain and suffering are the most common expenses in their claims.

What Types of Injuries Are Common for to Children Experience in Car Accidents?

When children are involved in car accidents, they can suffer from a range of injuries. These include head injuries like concussions or traumatic brain injuries, neck and spinal injuries such as whiplash, and chest injuries like bruised or broken ribs. Abdominal injuries affecting internal organs are also common. Kids might also experience fractures, cuts, bruises, soft tissue injuries, burns, and psychological trauma like anxiety or depression. It’s really important to get medical attention right away because some injuries might not be obvious at first but can have long-term effects.

Does it Change a Legal Claim if the Child Was Not Wearing a Seatbelt?

No, the lack of seatbelts will not affect whether the child gets compensated, even if it resulted in more injuries. However, it is always highly encouraged for parents to ensure their child is buckled up because children are lighter and can be thrown from their seats upon impact if they are not wearing seatbelts.

Who Can File a Legal Claim for a Child Involved in a Car Accident?

In Georgia, the legal guardians or parents of a child involved in a car accident can file a legal claim on behalf of the child. Grandparents or aunts and uncles cannot file such claims. In rare situations where a fatal accident results in the death of the parents, a grandparent would need to become the legal guardian before filing a legal claim.

Can a Child Be a Witness in a Car Accident Legal Claim?

Yes, a child who is a passenger can be a witness in a car accident claim in Georgia. However, the weight and credibility of their testimony may depend on their age, maturity, and ability to accurately recall and communicate the events of the accident. Lawyers will consider these factors when determining the relevance and reliability of the child’s testimony.

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