What to Do if Your Child Was Hurt in a Car Accident
Your family has rights. We can protect them.
Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you that they would do anything to protect their children. However, there is only so much you can do to keep your kids safe on the road. It only takes one moment of inattention or recklessness to change a child’s life forever. In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s normal to feel like you’ve failed, that you could have done something to stop it from happening and keep your child safe.
One of the reasons we’re so proud to represent Texas families is that we fight for accountability. We can’t undo what happened, but we can find out why it happened and hold the responsible driver accountable to the fullest extent of Texas law. If your son or daughter was in a car accident, talk to an experienced car accident attorney at Tracey Fox & Walters today.
The long-term cost of a car accident involving a child can be high
Car accidents are dangerous for anyone, but they pose unique challenges for children. Children’s still-developing bodies and minds are vulnerable to injuries that can change the course of the rest of their lives.
The most common injuries sustained by children in crashes are head injuries, including concussions, whiplash, contusions, and skull fractures. Injuries to the eyes and ears are also common. These types of injuries can have lifelong implications.
Children also commonly sustain injuries to the chest and upper body, including rib fractures, lung injuries, and internal bleeding. Broken glass can cause lacerations, and hands and feet can be broken while bracing for impact. These injuries can not only take weeks or months to heal but also have significant effects on a child’s development.
That’s why you should always get medical attention for your child after a car accident. Take them to the emergency room or urgent care, then follow up with your pediatrician or family doctor. Then, talk to an attorney who understands the complexity of child injury cases and can advocate for your family’s rights.
How the legal system applies to car accidents involving children
Texas law gives children the same legal recourse as adults, but it prohibits them from entering contracts, which means they can’t directly hire an attorney. When a minor child is involved in a car accident, their parent or legal guardian is generally able to bring a legal case on their behalf. Texas law also allows minor children who do not have a legal guardian to be represented by a “next friend” in court.
Usually, this means that the parents of an injured child will bring one case in two parts. The first part is for the parents’ costs to take care of the injured child, such as medical expenses. The second part is brought on behalf of the child for the child’s own damages, such as pain and suffering or disfigurement.
Another way the law differs when the victim is a child is the statute of limitations – the legal time limit to file a lawsuit. In Texas, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of the injury. However, when the victim is under 18, the deadline is tolled (paused) until their 18th birthday. This means a child injured in a car accident generally has until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit.
That said, this deadline only applies to the child’s own expenses, not their adult parent or guardian’s expenses. For example, if you paid your child’s medical bills, those are your damages, not your child’s, so you only have two years to file a lawsuit to recover those damages.
Remember, this is general information, not legal advice. The only way to clarify which legal deadlines apply to your child’s case is to discuss the matter with an attorney in a free consultation.
What if my son or daughter died in a car accident?
Unfortunately, this is far too common in Texas and nationally. Car accidents are among the leading causes of accidental death among children. While no law can bring a child back, parents can seek accountability and justice for the child’s passing through a wrongful death claim. (Note that Texas law only allows the parent, spouse, or child of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim, so you generally can’t bring a claim on behalf of a deceased grandchild, niece, nephew, or another relative.)
In Texas, you can pursue compensation for funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish, and loss of love and companionship, among other costs. You may also be able to seek exemplary (punitive) damages if the conduct that caused your son or daughter’s death is especially egregious.
What’s included in a car accident settlement for a child?
There is no single average settlement for a child in a car accident. Every case is different, and the value depends on the extent of the injuries and the effects on your child’s future. In general, your settlement should include compensation for:
- Medical expenses, both past and future. This can be quite substantial if your child will require care for the rest of their life.
- Medical equipment and modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate a permanent disability.
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress. It’s worth noting that a car accident can be a particularly traumatic event for a child, and that trauma has value.
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life, reduced standard of living, and similar costs.
Many of the damages typically sought when a child is injured in a car accident are non-economic in nature, which means they are somewhat subjective and depend on a jury’s discretion. That’s why it’s so important to hire an experienced car accident attorney who can advocate for the full value of your child’s injuries in negotiations and, if necessary, at trial.
Talk to an experienced Texas attorney for free
You have every right to be confused, upset, and unsure of what to do next. That’s why we want to help. The attorneys at Tracey Fox & Walters have extensive experience representing injured children and their parents. We understand how difficult these cases can be, and we will do everything in our power to fight for justice for your child while giving your family space to heal and rebuild.
If your daughter or son was in a car accident, we want to protect your family’s rights under Texas law. The sooner you get legal advice, the sooner you will be able to focus on healing while we deal with the legal aftermath. Give us a call or contact us online for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a Texas car accident lawyer.