Children and Car Accidents
What happens when a child is injured in a car accident?
Conceptually, a child is treated much like an adult during the course of a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim seeks to obtain compensation for injuries sustained in an accident. In practice, however, there are some important differences that you (or your lawyer) need to keep in mind. Be sure to act as quickly, as many of the issues involving a young person require particular attention from a lawyer knowledgeable about injury claims advanced on behalf of a young person.
Injuries to younger children are different than those experienced by teens, and different again from adults. Younger children have a hard time explaining the sites of injury, and the type of pain experienced. It can also be more challenging to assess a child’s pain. We suggest that you seek a professional medical opinion if your child was involved in a car accident. You can never be too careful. While there may be a long wait time at the emergency room, we find that parents feel much better knowing that their child appears to be ok. If something more serious is wrong with the child, you’re in the right spot to have treatment.
2. Assessing losses
Assessing a child’s injuries can be a complicated process. Some children will develop anxiety related to driving – even if they don’t drive at the time of the accident because they are too young. Older children may develop anxiety while driving, or no longer express interest to learn how to drive. Unlike older people, children are often quick to bounce back from minor injuries. However, there are occasions where injuries can affect growth or later development.
It isn’t proper to leave a child’s injuries to chance. We always recommend that a complete examination by a medical doctor at least twice. The first time is used to assess injuries. The second assessment is done after treatment has occurred or after a period of rest. The benefit to the second evaluation is twofold: to ensure that the child is recovered or expected to improve, and to set a comparison point to determine injuries.
3. Litigation Guardian
An injury claim belongs to the child, just like an injury adult ‘owns’ their claim for injury compensation. A child (or adult who is incapable of managing their affairs) has a litigation guardian in place to start a claim, defend against a claim, contest a claim, or to make a host of important decisions on that person’s behalf. A guardian of the child (see the Guardianship Act), is the litigation guardian for the child unless a judge orders another person to act in that capacity.
The formal duties of the litigation guardian are explained in the Nova Scotia Rules of Civil Procedure. Highlights of Section 36.09 include the right to make any decision that a party could make during the lawsuit and the obligation to keep a child 16 years or older informed about the lawsuit. If the litigation guardian is “adverse in interest” (e.g., the litigation guardian will benefit from a negative result in the child’s case)- another person must be appointed.
If your child has been involved in a car accident claim, please contact us for a free consultation. Be sure to ask about the importance of decision-making processes and the role of the litigation guardian. Parents must also consider whether they may have a personal injury claim to advance as well. Be sure to write down a list of questions before your appointment, so you get the answers that you need.
Contact Jeff Mitchell today to book your appointment. We are always pleased to meet you your home so that childcare arrangements are not necessary.