The majority of children sustain minor injuries or no injuries at all when involved in car accidents. However, the results can be devastating for families of the 13% of children hurt in serious collisions.
“The injury outcome in children can be worse than similar injuries sustained by adults,” reports the National Highway & Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). “In children, some neurological deficits after head trauma may not manifest for many years,” they add.
If your child has been involved in a Louisiana car accident, it is important to understand who pays and how much they pay. Auto insurance is typically a parent’s first recourse, but a lawsuit is another effective way to cover the cost of rehabilitation.
Child car accident injuries
According to the NHTSA, the most common injuries among children in car crashes are:
- Head injuries, such as concussions, contusions, lacerations, and skull fractures
- Thoracic injuries, such as rib fractures and lung injuries
- Abdominal injuries, such as upper and lower bowel perforations
- Upper body fractures of the humerus, radius, and ulna
- Lower extremity fractures of the pelvis, leg and foot
With head injuries, in particular, it can take years before neurological deficits manifest. Some frontal lobe functions — like higher level reasoning and social/interpersonal skills — do not develop until a child reaches adolescence. Early childhood brain damage may not be apparent until children reach high school. Likewise, brain injuries to the reading and writing centers in a baby or toddler’s brain will not be evident until the child reaches school age.
Every state has what is called a “statute of limitations” for filing personal injury lawsuits. In Louisiana, the deadline is within 1 year of the accident. However, in cases where the injuries were not fully realized until much later, the clock starts ticking when your child receives a diagnosis.
Insurance coverage for child’s car accident
Louisiana is a “fault state,” which means that a police report, camera recording, or eyewitness testimony will be required to establish fault. The driver who is determined to be at fault for the accident will be responsible for paying your child’s medical bills. If you or your child were determined to be partially at fault, the amount you collect will be reduced based on an estimated percentage of your liability.
How much does bodily injury insurance cover in Louisiana?
Louisiana auto insurance minimums are $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. Insurance can cover hospital, ambulance, and emergency room fees. For some claims, it may also cover follow-up visits and equipment costs (such as crutch or wheelchair use.) Sometimes bodily injury protection contributes toward loss of income, pain and suffering, funeral costs, and legal fees.
What does Med Pay insurance cover?
If you purchased your own Medical Payments auto insurance coverage, you can get an additional $1,000 to cover injuries suffered by you, your child, or another passenger riding in your vehicle.
In 2013, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury was $15,443 – higher than the amount insurance will pay. In many cases, insurance companies balk at paying for injuries. They may try to argue that the amount of care your child received was “excessive,” or that the provider you selected “charged too much.”
It is not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to lowball the cost of child injuries. Working closely with a personal injury attorney can help you protect your child’s legal rights and gain the compensation you need. If you were injured in the accident, you can also sue on your own behalf.
Collecting compensation with a personal injury lawsuit
Most car accident lawsuits result in out-of-court settlement offers. Lawyers can help you assemble the right paperwork, evidence, medical records, and other documentation to prove you have a sufficient claim. It helps to have an experienced negotiator with access to medical experts, doctors, and independent insurance adjusters who can help estimate the lifetime expenses of your child’s injuries. While necessary medical expenses and economic losses (related to time off work for caregiving) may seem straightforward, it can be difficult to tell if you’re being offered a fair settlement for pain and suffering, physical impairment, or disfigurement.
In light of these complexities, most parents seek legal advice throughout the process. Baton Rouge car accident attorney Bart Bernard has more than 20 years of experience in this arena, whether you are going through a settlement with the insurance company or seeking additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Call today for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.
Additional “Child Car Accident Compensation” Resources:
- NHTSA – Children Injured in Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811325
- Wallet Hub – Bodily Injury Liability, https://wallethub.com/edu/bodily-injury-liability/8607/
- Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association – Cost of Auto Crashes & Statistics, http://www.rmiia.org/auto/traffic_safety/Cost_of_crashes.asp