Any car accident has the potential to be traumatizing, but those that involve children can be particularly devastating. Children are more susceptible to serious and long-term injuries. Younger children specifically are not yet fully developed and thus less protected against the impact they sustain in auto accidents. For this reason, it is critical to get fair and just compensation when a car accident involves children in California. Physical injuries that may take years to heal and mental health issues that may take even longer to solve deserve to be properly considered in any kind of settlement or jury verdict.
At The Geller Firm, our auto accident lawyer in San Jose understands how important it is for families to be compensated in order to heal properly. Contact our office today at 415-840-0570 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.
Are Car Accident Claims in California Different for Children?
When it comes to making a personal injury claim for a child involved in a car accident, the child usually has the same right to compensation as an adult. They can seek damages for medical expenses, loss of ability to earn an income, and pain and suffering. In certain situations, they can also seek punitive damages.
However, there are some key differences between car accident claims for adults and those for children.
Firstly, minors cannot file their own personal injury claim. Instead, their parents or guardian must do so on their behalf. Alternatively, a child can wait until they reach the age of majority (usually 18 years of age) to file their own claim.
There are also different procedural requirements for personal injury claims involving children. For example, in many jurisdictions, a judge must review and approve the settlement agreement.
Injuries to Children from Car Accidents in California
The types of injuries commonly sustained by children in car accidents also differ from adults, which can impact the level of compensation they receive. As children's bodies are still developing, they are more prone to certain types of injuries.
Common injuries in car accident cases involving children include those to the head or brain, spinal cord, and thoracic areas, as well as fractures and psychological trauma.
Head or Brain Injuries
Head or brain injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained by children in car accidents, especially in children under one. Injuries of this nature can have serious, long-lasting impacts on a child's cognitive development and their ability to participate in school and other activities.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Especially in babies and toddlers, the neck area is highly flexible. This makes the latter age group more susceptible to spinal cord injuries as a result of a car accident.
In motor vehicle accidents, children under the age of one year have a higher chance of sustaining significant injuries to their heart and lungs as a result of a blow to the chest. Fractured ribs are another common injury.
Given children's bones are still developing, they're more prone to fractures than adults. Depending on the location of the fracture, like a growth plate, there can be future issues in terms of growth and therapy.
The trauma of a car accident can lead to ongoing psychological conditions in children, such as anxiety. These can require ongoing counseling or other treatment.
Minors and the Statute of Limitations in California?
The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim for a child involved in a car accident varies between states.
If a parent files a claim on behalf of their child, the state's standard limitation period for personal injury claims usually applies, starting from the date of the accident.
However, when a minor wishes to file their own claim, many states delay the start of the statute of limitations until the child reaches the age of majority (often 18 years of age).
So, if a child is injured in a car accident when they're 16 in a state with a two-year statute of limitations, the child has until age 20 to file their own personal injury claim. If the parents were to file the claim, they have two years from the date of the accident to do so.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Contra Costa County Today
Auto accidents involving children should be addressed with special consideration. Their injuries may require more medical attention. At The Geller Firm, our auto accident attorney will closely review and investigate the circumstances around your car accident to help ensure you get fair and just compensation. Contact us either via our online form or by calling us today at 415-840-0570 to schedule a free consultation.