The presence of a minor — whether it’s a baby in the backseat or a teenager behind the wheel — can be a complicating factor in any car accident. As a parent, you want to take steps to protect your children in these and similar incidents. While generally the laws around car accidents with children are the same as with adults, there are a few additional considerations that can have an impact. Let’s look at a few scenarios and some of the main things you should be aware of in the minutes, hours and days following a car accident with children involved.
Scenario 1: A Car Accident With a Child in the Car
Your children are precious cargo — even a minor car accident with a baby or young child in the car can be frightening. The first thing you should to is take a minute to assess the situation. Is anyone hurt? If so, call 911 immediately. Do not attempt to move your child as that may make the injuries worse. Most of all, don’t panic — stay calm and it will help keep your child and any other passengers calm, too.
If it’s possible and safe to do so, move your vehicle off to the side of the road. While you wait for the police or an ambulance, use this time to review the incident. If possible, take notes. Giving inconsistent statements to the police or to your insurance representative can invalidate your claim, even if it’s just an honest mistake.
Scenario 2: An Accident Causing Injury to a Minor
As a parent, you are authorized to negotiate an insurance settlement on your child’s behalf if they are under 18. Generally speaking, the same rules and processes that would apply if you were injured yourself should be followed. You and your child have a right to compensation for any medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering incurred as a result of a car accident in which you were not at fault.
If you were responsible for the accident, the amount of coverage you are entitled to, if any, is determined by the specifics of your policy. Speak with your insurance adjuster or a qualified personal injury lawyer for more information.
Scenario 3: An Accident With a Baby in the Car
Infants are treated the same way as other minor children with regards to filing an insurance claim. The one additional consideration is whether or not to replace the car seat. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car seat should be replaced following an accident in which:
- The vehicle could not be driven away from the scene
- Damage was incurred to the door closest to where the child was seated
- An injury occurred
- Your vehicle’s air bags were deployed
If there is visible damage to the seat itself, it should be replaced. If you’re unsure, consult the seat manufacturer’s website to find their recommendations. Remember that your insurance may cover the cost of a replacement, so check your policy for details.
Scenario 4: A Car Accident With a Minor Driver
It’s not uncommon for a young and inexperienced driver to be at fault in an accident. Hopefully, the experience will be learning one, without long-term consequences. If your child has a valid license and is covered by your insurance as an occasional driver, all the rules of your policy will apply to them. If they have their own car but have minimal insurance coverage, it may be possible to file a claim with your insurance to cover some of the damages. If they are driving without insurance and cause an accident, you may be held responsible.
The best way to protect yourself and your family following a car accident with a teenager or any other car accident is to speak with a personal injury lawyer directly. In your free consultation with a member of the Dallas Horton & Associates team, we’ll go over the details of your case and advise on your rights, on your responsibilities and on the best way forward.
Contact our office to book your appointment today.