A child suffering in a car accident is a parent’s worst nightmare. Whether it is a teenage driver or a tiny passenger in a car seat, the effects of injuries to a child can last for the rest of the victim’s life. In this article, we explore the injuries that are most frequently suffered by underage drivers and passengers, as well as how to get adequate compensation for smaller victims.
Common Injuries Suffered by Children in a Crash
The first thing to do if a child is injured in an accident is to seek medical attention immediately. Not only can prompt medical treatment improve the long-term outcome of the injury, it is also vital to building a solid injury case against an at-fault driver. X-rays, blood tests, and photographs taken just hours after the accident show the full extent of the child’s injuries, which often include:
- Head and neck injuries. A Department of Transportation study from 2010 found that head injuries were the most common trauma sustained by children in crashes. These injuries include traumatic brain injury, concussions, whiplash, contusions, and skull base fractures. Severe traumatic brain injuries can result in temporary or even permanent developmental problems, behavioral problems, or cognitive difficulties.
- Airbag injuries. Children who sit in the front seat are more likely to be injured than those who are seated in the back of the vehicle. One of the biggest causes of injury in this case is the front-passenger airbag, which may break the noses or even the necks of smaller passengers.
- Car seat injuries. While riding without proper child restraints is far more dangerous than securing a child in a car seat, these devices can cause injuries if they fail during a crash.
- Glass injuries. A broken window or windshield can cause cuts (lacerations) on a child’s face, which may result in scarring. Add to this the risk of dental injuries and facial trauma, and a child is increasingly likely to suffer disfigurement.
- Chest injuries. Tightening restraints and contact with the seat in front of them can cause children to suffer thoracic injuries, including rib fractures, lung injuries, and internal bleeding.
- Fractures. Children may suffer wrist, hand, and foot fractures while bracing for impact, and sustain a broken pelvis from a seat belt. Children who are thrown from the vehicle are likely to suffer fractures in their femurs and arms.
- Permanent disability. Incapacitation injuries—such as spinal cord injuries, loss of limb, or nerve damage—were most likely to occur after rollover accidents. Rollover crashes also had the highest rates of fatal injury for children.
- Psychological difficulties. Even if a child did not suffer head trauma in the crash, he or she is still at risk of psychological problems due to the emotional and physical effects of the accident. Children may need therapy for months or even years to prevent their mental anguish from distracting them in school or affecting their social behavior.
It May Be Difficult to Get Payment for a Child’s Car Accident Injuries
It is understandable that you would want your child to have the very best of care as he or she recovers from an accident. However, these costs can quickly add up, and parents may have to pursue compensation from the other driver. As Tennessee is a fault state for car insurance claims, payment will depend on your ability to prove that an at-fault driver is responsible for your child’s suffering.
The amount you may be awarded after an accident will depend on:
- Whether you were at fault. Tennessee works on a modified comparative negligence system, also known as the "49 percent" rule. Generally speaking, you can be partially to blame for the accident and still get damages, but you must be assigned less than half of the blame in order to get payment.
- Your share of fault. The damages a victim can receive in a crash case will be reduced by each driver’s percentage of fault. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but are found to be 30 percent liable, you will only be entitled to $70,000.
- Damage amounts and limits. Drivers can be awarded both economic and non-economic damages after an accident. Economic damages include anything you have directly paid or lost as a result of the accident, such as car repairs, medical bills, and lost time from work. Non-economic damages, sometimes referred to as pain and suffering, compensate victims for emotional distress, death of a loved one, or other losses that have no assigned dollar value.
If your child was injured in a car accident, we can listen to your story and tell you how much your case may be worth. Contact GriffithLaw today for a free evaluation of your case and situation by calling (615) 807-7900.