Child Injured in Car Accident in Indiana: What to Know

In 2020, 607 children ages 12 and younger were killed in car accidents in the United States and another 63,000 were injured. If your child was injured in a car accident that was not your fault, you may be able to pursue legal action on their behalf. 

An Indianapolis child injury lawyer from Fountain Law Firm, P.C. can review your situation during a free case review. We can guide you through the legal process so you can focus on your child’s recovery. Call us today for your free, no-obligation case review. 

What to Do After a Car Accident that Injures Your Child

If your child is injured in a car accident, it’s critical to take immediate steps to protect their health and well-being. Here are some things to do immediately after the accident and in the days following it:

  • Get to safety – Your first priority is to get to safety to avoid a secondary crash. Try to pull your vehicle to the side of the road, away from the middle of lanes, or at turns. 
  • Check for injuries – While you are waiting for police or EMTs to respond to the accident, check your child for any visible injuries. Do not move them or remove them from their car seat. Wait for emergency personnel to do this to avoid causing any additional injuries. 
  • Call the police- Even if the accident doesn’t seem that bad, report it. You’ll need the report to make an insurance claim, and reporting it can get an ambulance to the scene if your child is injured. 
  • Exchange information – Ask the driver for their name, contact information, and insurance information. 
  • Seek medical treatment – Make sure that your child gets prompt medical treatment. If they are not taken immediately to the emergency room, seek medical attention from your child’s pediatrician soon after the accident for a full physical evaluation to diagnose any injuries that may have been issued. 
  • Document the accident – Take pictures or videos of the accident scene and ask any witnesses for their contact information. 
  • Keep all records – Keep all of the medical records related to your child’s injuries. Also, keep any other documents that show your economic losses during the recovery period, such as the time you had to take off work to take your child to medical appointments.

Finally, reach out to an experienced Indianapolis child injury lawyer. Merry Fountain can get immediately to work on your claim and pursue compensation against the at-fault party. 

Damages in Child Car Accident Claims 

Damages for children’s claims may differ from adult claims because they may experience different losses than adults. Damages in a child’s injury claim may include compensation for the following:

Medical Expenses 

Your child may be entitled to compensation for all accident-related healthcare costs, including:

  • Ambulance charges
  • Emergency medical treatment
  • Surgery
  • Imaging services
  • Diagnostic tests 
  • Follow-up care
  • Rehabilitative services

Psychological Treatment 

Car accidents can be traumatic events, especially for children who may not understand the events or have the language to explain how they are feeling. Therapy and psychological treatments may be covered by insurance. Medication prescribed by a psychiatrist can also be covered. 

Pain and Suffering

Your child may also be able to recover compensation for subjective losses, such as:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental suffering
  • Emotional anguish
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Negative impact on their social relations

What Is the Deadline to File a Car Accident Claim for a Child Injury?

The statute of limitations provides a time limit by which someone must file a lawsuit in order to preserve their right to recover compensation through the courts. In Indiana, the general statute of limitations is two years from the date of the crash. This gives you two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit if a car accident settlement is not successful. 

As a parent, you will want to talk to a personal injury attorney right away for a free consultation.  Although your child has until two years after they reach 18 to file their own claim, you will usually have medical bills that need to be paid right away.   You still have only a two year statute of limitation for bringing your own action, which also includes loss of services and lost wages.

A personal injury attorney can discuss whether it would be better to file a claim on your child’s behalf or wait for them to file your own claim. Filing a claim now can help recover the compensation sooner that you may need to pay for your child’s medical and psychological treatment. You can also preserve evidence while it is fresh. 

When Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident Injures My Child? 

If your child was injured in a car accident, it’s important to reach out to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Evidence may be lost or destroyed if a lawyer does not preserve it. Even if you decide not to take immediate action, a lawyer can explain your legal rights and the deadlines that apply to your case. We offer a free consultation, so there is no risk in giving us a call to learn more about your options. 

What Is My Child’s Case Worth? 

Every car accident claim is different, just as every child is different. The potential value of your case depends on various factors, including: 

  • Type and severity of injuries
  • The defendant’s actions
  • Available insurance coverage
  • Whether your child shared any portion of fault for the accident
  • Your child’s age 
  • How the accident affected your child
  • Your child’s pain and suffering 
  • Future medical care your child will need

An experienced car accident lawyer can give you a better idea about the potential value of your claim after all the above factors are known.

How Can I Prove Fault? 

Indiana is an at-fault state for car accidents, so the driver who is responsible for causing the accident is responsible for paying for the damages resulting from it. Proving the other driver was at fault for the accident may rely on providing evidence such as:

  • Accident reports
  • Witness statements
  • Photos or videos 
  • Electronic records
  • Medical records 
  • Testimony from you and your child 

How Can I Protect My Child’s Legal Claim?

As the parent, there are steps you can take to protect your child’s injury claim, including the following:

  • Ensure your child receives prompt treatment.
  • Follow the doctor’s orders.
  • Do not discuss the case with anyone other than your lawyer.
  • Do not sign anything or give a recorded statement to the insurance company. 
  • Do not accept a settlement offer without consulting a lawyer. 

Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents that Injure Children 

Children may be involved in various types of motor vehicle accidents, including:

  • Accidents caused by other motorists – Children may be injured in car accidents in which you or another member of your household were driving, but someone else’s negligence caused the accident. 
  • Accidents in other people’s vehicles – Your child might be riding in someone else’s car for carpooling, visiting a friend, or going to a school activity. You may have a claim against the negligent driver in such cases.
  • Bicycle accidents – Many people drive too fast and fail to keep a proper lookout for children who might be riding bikes. Children can be injured or killed in bicycle accidents caused by negligent motorists. 
  • Pedestrian accidents – Children may be struck by a car while walking to or from school, a friend’s house, the store, or home. 

Common Child Car Accident Injuries 

Violent collisions can cause extreme harm to a young body that is still growing and developing. Car accidents involve the crushing metal of vehicles that weigh thousands of pounds, a great force equal to the speed of both vehicles and dangerous conditions like glass that can pierce their skin and projectile items that can hit them during the collision. Due to these factors, some of the most common car accident injuries children suffer include the following:

  • Head injuries – Due to their position in the vehicle and their shorter height, head injuries are the most common child car accident injury. Infants are more likely to suffer concussions while toddlers may experience head fractures due to the differences in their developmental stage. Some head injuries cause permanent brain damage, which can potentially and permanently alter your child’s development, mobility, memory, and personality. In these cases, reach out to a child brain injury lawyer.
  • Neck injuries – Young passengers can suffer from a broken neck, whiplash, or other debilitating neck injury. 
  • Spinal cord injuries –  The neck of infants and toddlers is flexible to allow for growth, but this feature makes it more fragile in case of injury. 
  • Chest injuries – Chest injuries in car accidents can include broken ribs, heart damage, collapsed lungs, punctured lungs, or internal bleeding. These injuries can be especially painful for young children. 
  • Abdominal injuries – Children aged four to seven are more likely to suffer small- or large-bowel injuries in a car accident. 
  • Pelvic fractures – Infants in car seats are at a higher risk of suffering pelvic fractures in case of an accident. 
  • Leg or arm fractures – Young bones may not be able to sustain the considerable force involved in motor vehicle accidents. This force can cause breaks in the arms, legs, wrists, fingers, or toes. 
  • Seatbelt injuries – Children can suffer burns, lacerations, and chest injuries by the constriction a seat belt makes during a crash to avoid ejection. 
  • Airbag injuries – Airbags can deploy at speeds of 100 mph or greater, which is why it is recommended that children sit in the back seat. Airbags can explode with great force, leading to possible neck, nose, dental, or facial injuries. 
  • Psychological injuries – Some injuries are not visible but can last forever, including trauma, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These conditions can negatively affect your child’s quality of life and can lead to problems sleeping, nightmares, avoidance behaviors, and emotional outbursts. 

Symptoms to Watch Out for Following a Crash

If your child was injured in a car crash, they might not be able to understand or communicate their symptoms, especially if they are young. Additionally, not all symptoms are immediately present after an accident, so it’s helpful to monitor your child in the hours and days following an accident for injury symptoms. 

Some symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Headaches – A headache can indicate your child has suffered a concussion or other head injury, neck injury, or blood clot. 
  • Heavy or abnormal breathing – Heavy or abnormal breathing may indicate a chest injury, organ damage, or other problem. 
  • Abnormal speech – Slurred speech or abnormal speech can indicate a traumatic brain injury. 
  • Pain – Back pain can indicate soft tissue injuries to your muscles or ligaments or nerve damage. Pain that extends to your arms or legs could indicate a spinal cord injury or bone injury.  You need to carefully watch your child’s movements because they may not be able to explain their pain to you.
  • Swelling or bloating – Swelling or bloating in the abdomen can indicate an internal injury. Your child may be suffering internal bleeding, which requires immediate medical treatment. 
  • Emotional changes – Changes in your child’s personality or emotional outbursts or withdrawals may indicate your child is suffering from a traumatic brain injury or is struggling with the psychological impact of the crash. 

Contact an Experienced Indiana Child Car Accident Injury Lawyer for Help with Your Claim

If your child was injured in a car accident, the Indiana child injury lawyer, Merry Fountain from Fountain Law Firm, P.C. is here to help. Merry can evaluate your case and recommend the best course of action to protect your child’s interests and pursue the maximum compensation available. Contact us today for a free case evaluation with a compassionate Indiana child injury lawyer.