What to Do if Your Child is in a Car Accident
An experienced attorney can help your family move forward
It’s a nightmare for any parent: in a moment, your son or daughter is seriously hurt in a car accident. It only took a moment of negligence to cause the wreck, but the consequences could affect your child for the rest of his or her life. You have every right to be angry, confused, and overwhelmed with what’s next. We can help.
Smith & Hassler, Attorneys at Law has a history of standing up for children and families after car accidents in Houston. If your son or daughter was a passenger in a car accident, we will fight for the accountability your family deserves and the compensation your child needs. Give us a call today for a free and confidential consultation.
What you should do if your daughter or son was a passenger in a car accident
Your top priority, after securing the scene and calling the police, is your child’s health. Get him or her to an emergency room or urgent care clinic to get checked out, then schedule a follow-up appointment with your pediatrician or family doctor. Make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions, go to all medical appointments, and document everything. This is important not only for your son or daughter’s health but also for their legal rights.
Remember that a car accident is a deeply traumatic event, and helping a child after a car accident includes addressing their mental and emotional health in addition to their physical health. Listen empathetically and make sure your child knows that he or she is safe, cared for, and loved. Don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician for a referral to a therapist or child psychologist to help cope with the mental health effects of the accident.
Your second priority should be getting to the bottom of what happened. Take pictures of the accident scene, as well as any property damage and any visible injuries. Get names and contact information for any witnesses. Get a copy of the police accident report, when it becomes available. And contact an attorney as soon as possible, before you speak to the insurance company, to protect your child’s rights and start an independent investigation.
What is the average settlement for a child in a car accident?
There is no single average car accident settlement for a child; it depends on the extent of your child’s injuries and the effects on his or her life. Some of the costs that should be accounted for in a settlement include:
- Medical expenses, both past and future. This can be substantial if your child’s injuries will require a lifetime of medical care.
- Medication and medical devices, such as mobility aids.
- Lost future income if your child now has a significant disability or the injury affected development.
- Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish. Pain and suffering for a child in a car accident is sometimes a larger component of the recovery than it would be for a working adult since there are no lost wages or similar costs during recovery.
- Modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate a disability.
- Property damage to the vehicle your child was riding in and any other personal property.
Ultimately, only an attorney can assess the situation and determine the cost of the accident. Your attorney may need to hire expert witnesses, such as doctors, child psychologists, or economists, to estimate those long-term costs. The first step is to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Do I have to replace my child's car seat after a car wreck?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends replacing child car seats after a moderate or severe accident, even if the seat itself is not visibly damaged. The NHTSA does not recommend automatically replacing a car seat after a minor accident that meets certain criteria. However, some car seat manufacturers recommend replacing their products after any accident, no matter how minor.
If you do have to replace your car seat, then that cost should be accounted for in your recovery – in other words, even if the seat itself was not visibly damaged, if it has to be replaced, that is “property damage” as far as your settlement or verdict is concerned.
What can I do if my son or daughter was killed in a car accident?
In Texas, when a minor child dies due to negligence, their parent or parents (whether biological or adopted) can file a wrongful death claim. Some of the losses you can recoup in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of companionship and society
- Emotional distress and mental anguish resulting from losing a child
- The calculated net value of services the child received
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other costs sustained by your child prior to death
- In some cases, exemplary damages (called punitive damages in other states)
No lawsuit can make up for the loss of a child. No parent would give up even one more day with their child for any amount of money. However, pursuing accountability and justice for your child’s death can help provide a degree of closure. We’ve walked with many families in these heartbreaking situations, and we would be honored to listen to your story and explain your legal options.
Talk to an experienced lawyer about your child’s car accident
If your child was hurt in a car wreck, time is not on your side. Texas law does relax some legal deadlines when the victim of an accident is a minor, but time can still weaken your case. You need to investigate and secure important evidence before it disappears. And you need someone to get the insurance company off your back and deal with the paperwork while you focus on your child’s health and your family’s future.
That’s why you need to contact Smith & Hassler. We have the experience and resources to stand up for Texas children who are hurt by negligent drivers, and we will fight hard for your child’s rights throughout the process. Schedule your free consultation today; you can come to any of our offices in greater Houston, or we can come to you. No cost, no obligation, just answers about your child’s rights.