When you are involved in an accident with a child in the car, it’s your natural reaction as a parent to want to respond to him or her as quickly as possible and to identify all potential injuries. But there are some tips you should know before doing so.
Accidental injuries are far too common for children in the U.S. — in fact, unintentional injuries such as burns, drowning, falls, poisoning, and road traffic are the leading cause of deaths among kids. Car accidents and their associated injuries happen to top that list, and may be particularly unnerving for both parents and bystanders alike.
Consider that in just the Dayton area, 40 school bus accidents were reported in the first couple months of this school year, August to December 2016. Only one of those accidents involved injuries; however, about 25% of the accidents involved a collision — mostly with another driver other than that of the school bus being at fault. Dayton also was home to Ohio’s deadliest car crash since 2013, an accident that claimed five lives.
At Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schulz L.P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you and your family through the difficult and sometimes tragic consequences whenever a child gets hurt. You’ll want to know what you can do immediately after the accident — check out our handy Car Crash Checklist you’ll want to print out and keep in your glovebox — as well as how you may be able to recover damages and get the compensation you deserve when another party is at fault. Additionally, you’ll want our expert legal assistance on navigating Ohio law to pursue a personal injury claim for a minor.
Here are four things to keep in mind if you get into a car accident with your child.
1. Children may be more susceptible to serious injuries.
Motor vehicle crashes killed 33 children in Ohio in 2016 and injured nearly another 9,000. That’s a lot of heartache for one family, let alone 10,000. According to research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most common child injuries in crashes include:
- Organ injuries
- Chest injuries
- Back injuries
- Concussions and head injuries
Head injuries, especially, are extremely damaging for children — if they aren’t fatal, they can lead to reading disabilities, memory loss, and headaches. Other injuries to various parts of the body can lead to improper bone growth or permanent disability.
The NHTSA research shows that children under age 1 had higher rates of head injuries, thoracic injuries, rib fractures, concussions, and unconsciousness. Skull base fractures and lung injuries were mere common in children older than age 1. Cerebrum injuries (contusions or lacerations) are the most common for all children according to the study, which looked at injuries in kids younger than age 8.
Children also are frequently injured outside of vehicles in back-over accidents, which happen in parking lots when other drivers do not see or hear that a child is nearby.
2. You can’t always spot injuries at the scene.
Your child may be in shock or confused about what has happened, so it’s important to stay calm for their sake, and yours. As a parent, you, too, may not know the full scope of your injuries until you have visited the hospital.
Getting to an emergency room as quickly as possible can help to minimize the problems associated with a child’s skeletal development, along with getting all necessary testing conducted.
If you suspect that your child has been critically injured in an accident, do not attempt to remove them from the vehicle, unless there is an extreme danger present to them or you need to move them to perform CPR. If your child cannot wiggle their toes, arms, or legs, it could indicate a spinal cord injury. Waiting until the authorities get there is strongly recommended, as moving him or her may lead to more catastrophic neck or back injuries.
3. Your car seat — and where your child is sitting — matters.
While kids can get hurt no matter where they are in the car, you can minimize injuries by ensuring your child (up to age 12) is seated appropriately in the second row of seats. Studies have shown that children are less likely to be injured in front-end collisions this way — up to one half to two-thirds as likely to sustain injury.
Rollover crashes, meanwhile, record about three times as many incapacitating injuries among unrestrained children as they do for restrained children, according to NHTSA research. That number shoots up to eight times as likely in near-side impacts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of a car seat reduces the risk for death to infants by 71% and toddlers by 54% in passenger vehicles, while booster seats reduced the risk for serious injury by 45% for children age 4-8 when compared with seat belt use alone. We’ve written previously about what to look for in a car seat in Ohio, so make sure you get one and have it properly installed. As a reminder, children in Ohio who are younger than age 4 and weigh less than 40 pounds must use a child safety seat that meets federal motor vehicle safety standards. If your child is less than 8 years old, they must be in a booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches tall.
4. You should seek help from a personal injury attorney.
Getting in an accident is scary, and sometimes, another party is at fault — either for driving distracted, drowsy, drunk, or reckless. You’ll want to consult with a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney to review your case, as you may be entitled to recover damages. It may be difficult to think about, but if your child has been injured in a car accident, he may have lifelong medical expenses to deal with. We can help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Prior to forming Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz, Doug worked as a bodily injury claims adjuster for a large insurance company. This unique experience has been a tremendous asset to Doug in his fight to achieve maximum cash settlements for his clients in minimum time. Since departing from the insurance company, Doug has dedicated his entire legal career to helping injured clients when they need it the most.