When you’re a parent, seeing your child injured in a car accident is one of the worst experiences imaginable. Although you try to keep them safe by investing in car seats, insisting on seat belt use, and teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street, all it can take is one act of negligence to cause life-changing injuries. These acts include impaired driving, distracted driving, poor road maintenance, and negligent auto manufacturing practices.
At The Schafer Law Office, we understand the pain and uncertainty parents face when a child sustains injuries due to a car accident in Louisville. Our car accident lawyers are committed to helping families secure the compensation they deserve and holding negligent parties accountable for their actions. We believe that every child’s well-being matters and advocating for their rights is not just a duty but a privilege.
Common Causes of Child Car Accident Injuries
Child car accident injuries can be heart-wrenching and devastating, not only because the victim is vulnerable but also because these accidents are usually preventable. Common causes include:
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving remains a significant hazard on the roads, with drivers engaging in activities such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting in-car entertainment systems. When the driver’s attention is diverted from the road, accidents are more likely to occur.
- Speeding and Reckless Driving: Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react to unexpected situations. Children are particularly vulnerable to accidents caused by speeding, as they might not fully understand the dangers of crossing roads or suddenly darting into traffic.
- Inadequate Road Safety Measures: Poor road conditions, lack of proper signage, and improperly designed intersections can increase the risk of accidents involving child passengers.
- Driving Under the Influence: Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs pose severe risks to all road users, including child passengers. Impaired drivers are less likely to react promptly and make sound judgments, making them more prone to accidents.
- Driver Fatigue: Fatigued drivers are more prone to lapses in concentration and slower reaction times, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Negligent Auto Design or Maintenance: Defective vehicle designs or improper maintenance practices can contribute to accidents. Malfunctioning brakes, faulty steering systems, or inadequate safety features can compromise a vehicle’s ability to protect child passengers in a collision.
Steps to Take After the Accident
When a child is involved in a car accident, taking the right steps can impact the outcome of a future claim. Below is a general overview of the actions you should take, depending on the circumstances of the collision.
- Contact the Police: Regardless of the severity of the accident, always contact the police. Their presence will help ensure a proper accident report is filed, and you will need that report for your claim.
- Exchange Information: Exchange contact and insurance information with all parties involved in the accident. This includes names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance policy details.
- Document the Scene: If it’s safe to do so, take photographs of the accident scene. Capture the vehicles, road conditions, traffic signals, and any relevant landmarks. These visuals can provide valuable context later on.
- Collect Witness Statements: If there are witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information and statements regarding what they saw. Their accounts can bolster your case.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if injuries seem minor, seek immediate medical care for your child. Some injuries may not manifest symptoms right away, and prompt medical evaluation can catch potential issues early. Your child’s healthcare team will thoroughly document their injuries, treatments, and prognosis.
- Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer: After addressing immediate medical concerns, contact a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling cases involving child car accident injuries. A lawyer can provide valuable insights into your legal rights, options, and the potential for compensation.
Your child’s well-being is paramount. Following these steps will not only assist in their recovery but also support any potential legal action that may arise from the accident.
Compensation in a Child Car Accident Claim in Louisville
Below is an overview of the various types of compensation that may be available in a child car accident claim in Louisville.
- Medical Expenses: Medical bills stemming from the accident can be significant, especially if there is a need for ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, surgeries, and therapy. Compensation should cover current and future medical expenses related to the accident.
- Pain and Suffering: Children often experience not only physical pain but also emotional trauma after an accident. Compensation for pain and suffering seeks to acknowledge the emotional distress, anxiety, and psychological impact the child may endure.
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life: If the child’s injuries affect their ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed, they may be entitled to compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life.
- Disability and Disfigurement: If the child sustains long-term or permanent injuries that result in disabilities or disfigurement, compensation may be awarded to address the impact these changes have on their quality of life.
- Future Earning Potential: Injuries may reduce the earning potential of older children as they approach working age. In order to bridge this gap, compensation can estimate their potential earnings.
- Caregiver Costs: If the child requires ongoing care due to their injuries, compensation may cover the cost of hiring caregivers, therapists, or medical professionals.
The amount of compensation that a child may receive depends on several factors, including the severity of the injuries, long-term outlook, and financial losses. An experienced personal injury attorney can help accurately assess the damages suffered and negotiate with insurance companies or litigate the case if necessary.
Who Pays the Bills in A Child Car Accident Case?
Kentucky is a “choice no-fault” state, which means that motorists can choose either a no-fault insurance policy or a regular tort-based policy.
In a no-fault policy, your own insurance company covers your child’s medical expenses and losses regardless of who is at fault. The minimum coverage limit for personal injury protection (PIP) under a no-fault insurance policy is $10,000. Under a tort-based policy, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying the damages to the other driver or their passengers.
No-fault insurance in Kentucky only covers certain types of damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages. A lawsuit may still be necessary if your child suffers property damage or pain and suffering losses. A Louisville personal injury attorney can help you determine who may be responsible for paying your bills and other damages.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Child Injury Lawsuit in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim is two years. If the injured party is a minor, the deadline is extended to one year after the child turns 18. This doesn’t mean that you should wait: contacting a car accident lawyer as soon as possible will ensure that action is taken while evidence and witness memories are still fresh. If you have any questions about the statute of limitations for child injury claims in Louisville, contact The Schafer Law Office.
What Happens to the Settlement?
According to KRS §387.278, settlements of $25,000.00 or less for injured minors must be placed in a blocked account, either a bank savings or investment account, until the child reaches 18. The parent or guardian finalizing the settlement for the minor must complete an affidavit, affirming they’ve ensured full compensation for the minor, with no other means to secure additional funds. Institutions holding these funds will confirm the account’s restricted status. If funds are needed before the minor turns 18, a court appeal is necessary, with the decision lying solely with the Court, not our office. Settlements exceeding $25,000.00 require guardianship filing and Probate court approval.
Get a Free Consultation From a Louisville Car Accident Lawyer
When your child is hurt in a car accident, the anguish is immeasurable. This is why our Kentucky personal injury lawyers are dedicated to helping families secure the maximum compensation they deserve. We will listen to your story, determine how much your claim is worth, and fight for the money your child needs to recover. To schedule your free consultation with a Louisville car accident lawyer, contact The Schafer Law Office today.