October 7, 2020 | Car Accidents
Every year hundreds of children die in car accidents across the country. As recently as 2018, at least 116,000 kids were injured in some way as the result of a car accident. These are more than just numbers, they represent families whose lives have been altered, in some cases irrevocably, by motor vehicle collisions.
While the safety and well being of your children is your number one priority, if they are injured in a car accident, it is not unreasonable to question what types of compensation your child is due for their injuries and the pain and suffering they have endured. Though there are a few differences, your child has just as much a right as an adult to be compensated for their injuries.
To help you navigate the added complexity of filing a claim and seeking compensation for your kids, here is what you should do if your child was hurt in a car accident.
Seek Medical Care Immediately
It almost goes without saying, but the first and most important thing you should do if your child has been in a car accident is seek medical care immediately. Even if your child is not exhibiting any symptoms or says they are fine, you should still have them checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, injuries sustained in a car accident might not manifest themselves right away but can still be detected by doctors.
If your child appears to have avoided injury and been given a clean bill of health by a medical professional but complains of pain or discomfort a few days later, you should not hesitate to bring them in again.
As you do so, it is also wise to take notes on what doctors are saying, how your child is feeling, and to keep detailed records of all out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred. All of this information could be helpful later on if you need to pursue legal action.
Don’t Settle With an Insurance Company Right Away
If your child was hurt in a car accident, the number one thing an insurance company wants to do is settle the claim as quickly as possible and for as little as possible. Once a claim is settled, securing additional compensation will be impossible.
Insurance companies know that if your child’s injuries are allowed to fester they could become more severe which translates to a higher claim. They will do everything in their power to convince you to settle before you know the full extent of your child’s injuries or before you hire a lawyer.
Hire a Qualified Personal Injury Lawyer
A qualified personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in settling your child’s case. Not only will a lawyer help to maximize the compensation your child receives, but they will also walk you and your child through the added complexity of settling the case for a minor.
In Oklahoma, while minors can receive compensation for injuries, all settlements have to be approved by a judge. This extra layer of protection is added to the process because children are in a more vulnerable position than adults when it comes to legal matters.
In order to accomplish the settlement, what is known as a friendly suit may have to be filed and brought before the judge. If the settlement is not approved by the court when it occurs, there could be legal ramifications down the road.
One other aspect that is worth noting, is that after medical expenses and attorney’s fees have been paid, additional settlement money the child has received will be held in trust and given to the child when they reach 18 years of age. While there are varying interpretations applied to this rule, it is widely accepted that money is only placed in a trust if the amount after medical bills and attorney’s fees exceeds $1,000.
Seeking Justice for Your Children
Surviving a car accident can be a traumatic experience for children. That hardship is compounded if your child is injured in the accident. If this has happened to your child, you should:
- Seek medical attention immediately
- Not settle with an insurance company right away
- Hire a personal injury lawyer to represent your child
Following these steps will ensure your child gets back to normal as quickly as possible. It will also take the financial burden of paying for medical bills off of your family and make sure your child receives the compensation they are due for their injuries.