Getting hurt in a car accident is terrible, but having your own child hurt is admittedly much much worse. We would do anything to protect our children, and when they get hurt we can feel a heightened level of distress or even despair.

The important thing is to remain as calm as possible and to immediately seek medical attention for your child or children, as well as for yourself. Then, once you have an injury diagnosis, you can begin seeking compensation for the costs of the medical treatment for your child or anyone else that was injured in your car.

If your child is suffering from mental or emotional distress — an often overlooked outcome of car accidents — then the available insurance policies may pay for therapy and other forms of treatment, as well.

Always report your accident, and always take your child to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic immediately after leaving the accident scene. Then, talk to an experienced car accident injury lawyer to begin exploring your options for obtaining compensation for all of your and your child’s injuries.

Knowing about the most common effects of car crashes involving minors can help you know what to look out for when treating your child or getting a diagnosis from medical professionals.

Car Accidents Affect Children Differently Than Adults

Because children are still growing, their bodies will be affected differently by a major impact compared to an adult.

Young children’s tendons and ligaments tend to be much stronger compared to their bone growth plates, for instance. According to Stanford Children’s Health, this makes them more likely to get a broken bone than a strain or a sprain. Additionally, children’s bones are more elastic compared to an adult’s, so they are less likely than an adult to suffer a fracture overall.

Despite advantages, children are far from invincible when it comes to car crashes. The CDC reports that in 2018, more than 97,000 children under 12 were injured in a car crash, and 626 died.

“Although the most common injuries in a car crash for adults are whiplash, traumatic brain injury, and broken bones, injuries commonly sustained by a child are a bit different,” reports Atlanta-based AICA Orthopedics. “Head injuries and concussions still frequently occur, however children are more vulnerable than adults to chest and back injuries and even organ damage.”

Making matters more stressful, children’s resilience combined with their lower self-awareness can lead to hidden injuries. A child may fail to notice or report that they have had ongoing back pain, for example, delaying diagnosis and treatment. This is one major reason why it is extremely important to go for a full medical exam as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not your child reports symptoms.

What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries in Children?

Studies of the effects of accidents upon children are relatively rare compared to generalized population studies.

However, a 2006 report on crash injuries in children details findings from the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN), which provided the study with data from 10 pediatric trauma centers. According to the study, children involved in a side impact “were significantly more likely to suffer severe injuries to the head and thorax as compared with children in frontal crashes”.

Children in frontal crashes, on the other hand, “were more likely to suffer severe spine and orthopedic injuries.”

Sitting in the Back Seat and Wearing a Seat Belt Reduces the Risk of Injury or Death

One major detail from the study was that children who sat in the front seat tended to have more injuries to the thoracic (chest), abdominal (stomach), and pelvic (hips) regions; and more overall orthopedic injuries. Seat belts were found to be a major preventative factor. Children without a seatbelt were over 2.6 times as likely to suffer a broken bone.

Information from the CDC confirms that seat belts can prevent injury and save lives in children. Per their website:

  • Car seat use reduces the risk for injury in a crash by 71-82% for children, when compared with seat belt use alone.
  • Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4-8, when compared with seat belt use alone.
  • For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.

Look Out for Head Injuries

Because a child may be less likely to show obvious symptoms, parents should rule out whether or not their child suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) — commonly called a concussion — during their crash.

Car accidents are a leading cause of TBI in children, says the CDC, along with falls and being hit by/against objects.

Per the Mayo Clinic, warning signs of a TBI to look out for in children include:

  • Change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Mood swings, unusual responses, or irritability
  • Persistent crying or tantrums
  • Drowsiness
  • Low energy, indicating a sad or depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities or toys
  • Inability to focus or pay attention

Early diagnosis and treatment of a TBI is key to avoiding major side effects, which can include delayed development.

Don’t Overlook Trauma and Other Serious Psychological Responses

A common but tragically overlooked consequence of car accidents is that the child may suffer from an emotional or psychological condition. A car crash can be incredibly traumatizing, and it could also form the root of other psychological issues.

It is recommended that you take your child for a full psychiatric evaluation following the accident. Even if there is nothing to diagnose, it can help your child to talk to an experienced professional about their experience and how it has affected them. Follow the professional’s recommendations for follow-up treatment or diagnostics.

Importantly, know that your child’s therapy and psychiatric treatments may be covered by insurance. Speak to an attorney to learn about your options for claiming these costs as part of your accident damages.

Our Law Firm Fights for You and Your Kids After an Accident

Once your child has gotten hurt in a crash, you may wonder where to turn. Know that you can file for the initial costs of your accident under your own personal injury protection (PIP) or “no-fault” policy. You may also be able to pursue a third-party liability claim against all other at-fault drivers to recover the remaining costs of your child’s treatments as well as your own, in addition to the wages you have lost, pain and suffering, and all incidental damages.

The New York Personal Injury & No-fault Collections Law Firm is here and waiting to help. Call us now, and we will go over your options for seeking compensation during a free, confidential case review, with no obligation. Schedule your free appointment now when you call 833-866-2529 (833-TONA-LAW) or contact us online.