Car accidents can be terrifying enough if it is just you in the vehicle. But when a small child is in the car, many other worries will run through your mind. Is the child hurt or OK? Will the paramedics let you ride together to the hospital? When it comes to teens, you may have other concerns. Will the teen post about the crash on social media? Will he or she be afraid to drive in the future?
With decades of experience with assisting families through the tough and often frustrating issues that come with being in a motor vehicle wreck, the Indiana personal injury attorneys of Truitt Law Offices are here to help. If you and your child were recently involved in a crash in Fort Wayne, Huntington, Indianapolis or elsewhere in Indiana, contact us for a free one-on-one consultation about your case.
Child Injuries in Indiana Car Accidents
It is understandable why parents in Indiana are concerned about their children getting hurt in a crash. According to a report from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, injuries to children in motor vehicle crashes in our state went up by three percent between 2013 to 2017. Child fatalities also increased during this time period, going from 14 in 2015 to 40 by 2017. Additionally, many children suffered injuries in bicycle accidents. In 2017 alone, 124 children who were age 14 and younger were seriously hurt or killed in such crashes.
What Should You Do If You Are in a Car Crash with a Child in Your Vehicle?
If you are ever involved in a car wreck in Indiana, and you have a child with you, here are some steps that you should take:
- Check for injuries to your child and others at the scene. Ultimately, human life and safety are the most important thing after a crash. Make sure to check on your own child and ensure that you are safe before rendering any assistance to others.
- Call 911. Even if everyone seems OK at first, keep in mind that some injuries can be delayed. For instance, brain injury, spinal cord injury and soft tissue damage may not be noticeable at first. You should call police and paramedics to the scene as soon as possible.
- Exchange information and cooperate with police. The police should help to obtain data and information from others at the scene, but do not assume that they will get witness contact information. Do your best to get the names and contact numbers of everyone at the scene, including witnesses.
- Get medical attention for your child. You want to get your child checked out by a doctor as soon as you can. Small children may not always let you know they are hurt, and older kids may hide their injuries or pretend they are OK. Always take your children to the hospital to be evaluated.
- Report the accident to your own insurance company. This may seem to be counterintuitive if the other driver was at fault. However, your insurance policy may have a provision buried in the fine print of the contract that requires you to give timely notice of the crash, regardless of who was at fault.
- Do not speak to the other driver’s insurance carrier. An insurance adjuster from the other party’s insurance company represents the interests of that driver, not you. So, don’t speak to the adjuster without consulting with your own attorney first.
- Stay off social media (and make sure your children do the same). Your car accident should be a private matter that you discuss only with your attorney. Let your children know the importance of staying off social media for a while until your case is resolved.
- Get help from an Indiana child injury lawyer. Before you give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company or accept a settlement offer, you should meet with an experienced child injury attorney. An attorney who understands the unique issues that arise in child injury cases can advise you about your rights and options and, ultimately, help you to pursue the compensation that you deserve.
What Makes Child Injury Cases Different?
Child injury cases in Indiana are different from other types of cases in many ways. First, you need to pay attention to time limits. Under Indiana law, you typically must file a personal injury claim within two years after the date of your accident. However, children are deemed to be incapable of bringing a lawsuit. For that reason, children usually have until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit, or two years after the child’s 18th birthday.
Indiana law holds adults responsible for the medical expenses of their children. So, even though a child may get more time to file his or her claim, parents are still subject to the two-year statute of limitations when it comes to filing claims for medical expenses.
Additionally, to settle a child’s injury claim, you typically will need to get court approval. This process involves getting a judge’s determination about the appropriateness of the settlement. It may involve the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s best interests.
Finally, it’s worth noting that a child may be required to testify at a deposition or trial in order to establish his or her physical pain and suffering and how the injuries have affected the child’s life. This is especially true if the child is a teen. As a parent, it may seem unthinkable to put a child through such a process. However, you and your child will need to be prepared for this possibility.
Our Indiana Car Accident Lawyers Are Here for You and Your Child
With offices conveniently located throughout Indiana, including Fort Wayne, Huntington, and Indianapolis, Truitt Law Offices is devoted to client service and fighting for the rights of injured people throughout the state. If you and your child were hurt in a car accident, contact us for a free consultation and find out more about your rights and options today.