A car accident is especially traumatic when a child is involved. A serious injury can greatly impact your child’s future if the injury requires continuous medical and personal care. When a child does not survive his or her injuries, your loss will live with you forever. A car accident that harms or kills your child and that is due to a drunk, distracted, or otherwise careless driver demands justice.
If this happened to your child, our Orlando child injury lawyers can help you. Call Michael T. Gibson, P.A., today for a free case evaluation at 407-422-4529, or contact us online today. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you owe us nothing unless we win your case.
What Are Serious Child Injuries From Car Accidents?
A traumatic accident can seriously injure children of any age, no matter how safely you secure them before driving. The forceful impact of a crash may result in life-changing injuries for your child.
Young children are resilient; regardless, watching your child endure painful procedures or a prolonged recovery is never easy. Depending upon the severity of your child’s injuries, he or she may require extensive—and expensive—care for the foreseeable future. The following types of serious injuries are possible for children involved in severe accidents:
Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A traumatic brain injury is a bump, blow, jolt, or penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function.
After a TBI—even a “mild” one—you might suffer from:
- Hearing or vision changes
- Third nerve palsy
- Weakness in extremities
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), children who experience a brain injury can experience memory loss for a year or longer. Additional changes in behavior and emotions are also possible, potentially causing your child to exhibit acts of anger and depression.
Spinal cord injury: Research by the NIH shows that motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of spinal cord injuries in children. Approximately 25 percent of children experience what the NIH refers to as transient symptoms. While a child may experience weakness and spinal column pain, the full onset of the injury may not appear for 30 minutes to four days. Transient symptoms make an immediate diagnosis difficult, according to the NIH.
A spinal cord injury is especially devastating for children whose mobility becomes reduced or dependent upon others. The use of a power chair and home modifications for the chair is expensive. Throughout the years and as your child grows, you will have to replace the chair and adjust other accommodations.
Many other serious injuries can affect your child throughout his or her life.
The impact on an injured child’s life is often more than just physical. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children can result in the following behaviors:
- Nightmares or trouble sleeping
- Intense fear of and anxiety
- Constantly reliving the event
- Denying that the accident ever happened
If your child suffered a serious injury due to the careless actions of another driver, fight for justice. The injuries that your child experiences may change him or her from the happy child you remember from before the accident, and that is not fair.
As personal injury lawyers, we understand what a stressful time this is for you and your family. Missing time from work and learning to care for your child can take a toll on even the strongest parents or guardians. Let a member of our team review your case for free.
What Are Common Types of Car Accidents?
When you travel with children in your car, you are transporting very precious cargo. You may take extra precautions and follow child safety laws regarding seating requirements. No amount of defensive driving or precautions can prevent a reckless driver from crashing into your vehicle.
The most recent data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) shows that more than 400,000 crashes occurred throughout the state in just one year alone. A serious car accident can happen in a second due to one or more of the following careless behaviors or actions by another driver:
Texting behind the wheel – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that texting behind the wheel involves all three forms of distraction:
Approximately nine people die each day in the United States and another 1,000 suffer injuries in crashes involving distracted drivers. Texting behind the wheel is just one form of distracted driving. Other forms of distracted driving include reaching for items and eating while driving.
Speeding and running red lights – Speeding and running red lights are just two examples of aggressive driving. This form of dangerous driving can escalate into road rage, placing other drivers at risk of serious harm.
Driving while sleep-deprived – Busy schedules, a lack of sleep, and possible undiagnosed sleep disorders can cause a sleepy driver to drift into your lane. There is often no time to avoid the collision.
No one should experience serious harm due to a driver who decided to drive despite feeling tired. If this happened to you, and your child experienced serious injuries, you should pursue justice and compensation for your child’s injuries.
Drunk driving – Drunk driving continues to plague our nation’s highways and city streets. Drivers—including underage teens—take chances behind the wheel, ignoring stricter laws and public safety campaigns. If a drunk driver failed to turn over his or her car keys to someone else, and if this poor decision changed your child’s life forever, contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., for a free case evaluation without delay.
A Florida driver’s license is a privilege and not a right. At Michael T. Gibson, P.A., our team aggressively holds individuals responsible for your child’s injuries accountable for their actions. When someone fails to share the road responsibly, those actions may result in a criminal charge. A criminal case, however, will have little bearing on your civil action.
A car accident involving children is a traumatic experience for everyone, even the first responders that arrive at the accident scene. Do not let your case go without a free evaluation. You may be entitled to certain damages, including mounting medical costs, along with pain and suffering and other types of compensation.
What Happens When a Car Accident Proves Fatal?
The tragedy of losing a child in a car accident is heartbreaking. There is generally nothing anyone can say or do to ease your pain. However, you may qualify to file a wrongful death claim and lawsuit.
It goes without saying that no amount of money can replace your child. Compensation may, however, help ease your financial stress and serve as a form of justice.
While each case is different, the types of compensation typically awarded in wrongful death cases include:
- Reimbursement for the final medical expenses associated with your child’s fatal injuries
- Funeral and burial costs that cost thousands
- Loss of companionship
Other types of compensation are possible, depending upon the details of your case. Wrongful death cases are often quite complex and emotional. Hiring a child injury attorney for legal representation will allow you to focus more on your grief and less on your case.
At Michael T. Gibson, P.A., our focus is auto accident cases. We are here to help you through this difficult time. If you have lost a child in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, reach out to a member of our team without delay for a free case evaluation.
Do Insurance Companies Have Your Best Interests?
If an insurance company makes you an offer to settle soon after an accident, do not accept it. Insurance companies typically want to settle cases quickly and for the least amount of money possible, as their primary goal is to protect their bottom lines.
When you hire legal representation from Michal T. Gibson, P.A., we work hard to protect your best interests. We stand firm in our negotiations with insurance companies and constantly seek a fair settlement for our clients. Many child injury cases settle out of court; however, if we cannot secure an acceptable settlement, we are ready to take your case to trial.
Who Are Your Orlando Child Injury Lawyers?
An especially violent car accident may leave you—and your child—with devastating injuries. This places an extra emotional and financial burden on your family, as medical bills continue to increase. If you find yourself in such a situation, a child injury lawyer from our firm can help.
The fast-paced experience of a car accident and the aftermath may leave you feeling overwhelmed. The days and weeks that follow often blend into one another as you struggle to keep track of medical appointments and procedures. If the accident resulted in a fatality, your grief may leave you unable to function, much less keep track of dates and deadlines.
Time is important when it comes to filing a child injury or a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations is a state law regarding the time allowed for filing a civil action. If you miss this deadline, you may miss your opportunity to pursue compensation forever.
Our team does not want this to happen to you. We will carefully track all deadlines for you. Knowing you have placed your case is in good hands and that someone is at work on your behalf allows you to better focus on your child and his or her needs, as well as your own needs. The emotional stress associated with seeing your child severely injured can take a toll on your own health, and the medical costs associated with a serious injury or a death can far exceed any personal savings you may have.
When the injuries your child has suffered resulted from the negligence of another driver, the driver should pay the medical costs. As auto accident lawyers, our team knows the various ways that insurance companies try to deny, delay, or underpay on auto accident claims. We also know that accepting an insurance company’s initial settlement offer may appeal to you; however, do not accept or sign anything until first consulting with an attorney.
Child Injury FAQ
When a negligent driver injures a child, it disrupts a family’s life in so many ways. In a vehicle crash, a child’s vulnerable body usually sustains more damage than the adult occupants. Cars cause devastating injuries when they strike child pedestrians as they walk home from school. Even a small vehicle’s impact has the power to cause catastrophic injuries.
As a parent, you do everything you can to keep your children safe, but often the circumstances are outside of your control. When the worst happens, you stay strong for your child, despite your anxiety. You provide comfort, support, and in-home medical care. You put your child first, and provide the help they need to heal.
Sadly, negligent drivers injure children far too frequently. If your child is currently struggling with accident-related injuries, you should consult with a legal professional as soon as possible. Even if your child hasn’t been involved in an accident, it’s important to know and understand basic accident injury facts. We created our Orlando child injury FAQ to share essential information and help you learn more about your legal options.
How often do children sustain injuries due to vehicle accidents?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention documents and tracks childhood injuries nationwide.
They have determined the following facts about auto accidents involving children.
- Each day, 150 children from infants to age 19 require emergency treatment for crash-related injuries.
- In the age group five to 19 years, more children die from auto accidents than from any other cause.
- Nationally, 3,754 children sustained fatal injuries in car crashes during 2018.
- When an airbag deploys after a crash, they seriously or fatally injure young children riding in the front seat.
- The center rear seat is the safest place for a child to ride.
How Frequently do child-injury accidents occur in Florida?
The NHTSA Fatality Injury and Reporting System Tool (FIRST) provides recent accident statistics. An inquiry shows that 796 children aged 0 to 18 sustained fatal injuries in Florida accidents during one recent year.
What is a backover accident?
Backover accidents occur when a driver strikes a person (often a child) while backing up their vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Child Safety Page lists backover accidents as a common cause of childhood vehicle-related injuries. It’s often a visibility issue, especially with a larger vehicle. To prevent these accidents, drivers should never assume that the area immediately behind their vehicle is clear. They can only determine if it’s safe to back up when they walk around the vehicle before engaging the ignition.
As children are naturally small in stature, they are the most frequent backover victims. When walking or using a cycle that rides low to the pavement, children often become invisible to backing drivers. Accidents and injuries occur when a driver fails to take proper precautions.
The NHTSA and the KidsAndCars.org Backover Fact Sheet offer these insights.
- Backover accidents injure and kill many children each year.
- They occur primarily on driveways and in parking lots.
- Many drivers remain unaware of the significant blind spot to the rear of their vehicle.
- Rear detection devices help, but drivers should still walk around their vehicles before backing.
- SUVs and larger vehicles have rear visibility issues that render drivers more likely to cause backing accidents.
- Young children are often unaware of the danger. They believe that if they can see a vehicle, the driver can see them.
How often do vehicle drivers injure children on bicycles?
Over the years, adults have replaced children as the most frequent bicycling accident victims. The NHTSA’s Traffic Safety Facts report, Bicyclists and Other Cyclists shared these facts and statistics.
They include all cyclists within the category pedalcyclists.
- Florida has the highest number of pedalcyclist injuries compared to all other states.
- Nationally, vehicles fatally injured 37 bicycle riders under age 14.
- NHTSA estimates that 5,000 children under age 14 and 6,000 children ages 15 to 19 sustained injuries while riding pedalcycles.
- 53 bicyclists aged 15 to 19 sustained fatal injuries due to vehicle crashes.
- Children comprised 4 percent of all pedalcyclist fatalities.
- Most pedalcyclist injuries occurred in urban areas.
- Helmets minimize the risk of serious injury.
How often do children sustain injuries while riding on school buses?
Children are less likely to sustain injuries as a bus passenger than while walking or riding a bicycle.
The NHTSA’s most recent traffic facts report on School Transportation-Related Crashes compiled national facts and statistics during a recent 10-year period.
- Over the period reviewed, the NHTSA documented 124 school-transportation related fatalities per year.
- 261 of the fatally injured victims were children.
- 61 of the injured children were school bus passengers.
- 100 of the fatally injured victims were occupants of other vehicles.
- 97 of the victims were pedestrians, five were pedalcyclists, and one was designated a non-occupant.
- Child pedestrians sustained fatal accident-related injuries most frequently during the hours of 7 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 3:59 p.m.
- Of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in school-transportation related accidents, 49 percent were ages 5 to 10.
Do safety seats and restraints help save children from serious injuries?
When chosen correctly and properly installed, car safety seats and booster seats provide protection that helps keep children safe. Seat belts help save older children from serious injuries, as well. The NHTSA’s most recent Crash-Stats report provides annual estimates of lives saved based on safety restraint use during one recent year.
- Car seats saved the lives of 325 children under age four.
- Seatbelts saved 14,955 people age 5 and above.
- Frontal airbags saved 2,790 people age 13 and above.
- Safety seats saved eight children’s lives.
- Seatbelts saved 1,099 lives of people ages five and older.
- Frontal airbags saved 200 lives of people 13 years old and above.
What are Florida’s safety seat and safety restraint laws?
The Florida Safety Belt Law is included in Florida’s Motor Vehicle codes. Chapter 316.613 provisions require drivers to secure children under age five in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device. Vehicle occupants age six to 18 must wear a seatbelt. Drivers to age 18 and 18-year-olds riding in the front passenger seat must also use a seatbelt.
Florida’s restraint laws include exceptions for commercial trucks, school buses, tractors, and other vehicles. The law also includes safety seat waivers for children with physician-verified medical conditions and non-use during emergency medical transport. When an owner registers a vehicle to which the restraint laws apply, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notifies them of the appropriate statutes and requirements.
Do I have a right to file a claim against a driver who caused my child’s injuries?
When someone causes an accident that injures your child, you have a right to make a liability claim.
Your right is based on traditional negligence guidelines:
- The other driver had a duty to drive safely.
- He or she breached that duty and caused an accident.
- His or her actions injured your child.
- Your child’s damages relate directly to the driver’s actions.
As Florida is a no-fault state, your child’s injuries must meet certain thresholds before you have a right to make a liability claim.
What injury thresholds apply to my child’s claim?
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance law, each vehicle owner must have Personal Injury Protection coverage on their auto policy. When your child sustains an injury in an auto accident, you must submit the medical bills to your own insurer.
You have the right to file a claim against a negligent party only when your child’s injury meets one of these conditions.
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
How do I file a claim against the responsible party?
The short answer is to hire a child injury accident lawyer, who can take care of all of the complexities for you.
More specifically, When two vehicles crash, each driver has a duty to report the accident to their own insurer. Both insurance company claim departments investigate the accident to determine who is at fault. If your child’s injuries are serious or catastrophic, the other carrier should easily recognize that your child has met a PIP injury threshold. It’s still up to you to present your claim to the other carrier for consideration.
It should be a simple process, but it’s often complicated. Negligent driver’s insurers often require that you prove liability against their policyholder. That’s difficult to do if you don’t have access to the evidence that proves your case. In most situations, you need legal representation for the best chance of successfully negotiating your child’s injury claim. In some instances, a court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent your child’s legal and financial interests.
What is a guardian ad litem?
As parents, Florida grants you natural guardianship over your child. This gives you the legal right to negotiate and settle your child’s injury claim. Under certain circumstances, the court intervenes, limits your guardianship rights, and takes steps to protect your child’s legal and financial interests.
A judge usually appoints a guardian ad litem under one or more of these circumstances.
- Your child has a serious injury
- The settlement value exceeds $15,000.
- You are legally incapacitated
- A conflict of interest exists between you and your child or your child and his or her legal guardian
A guardian ad litem represents your child only until they resolve your child’s injury claim. Whether your child has a guardian or not, a judge must approve a settlement involving the above situations. A judge also approves settlements for cases that are the subject of a pending lawsuit.
How much time do I have to file a claim for my child’s auto accident injuries?
In Florida, injured persons have four years in which to file a lawsuit to recover damages from a negligent party. This time period is called the statute of limitations, and it’s detailed under Florida Statutes, Limitation of Action… § 95.11(3)(a).
The basic four-year time period becomes a bit more complicated when someone causes an auto accident that injures a child, and one or more of these circumstances apply.
- The child doesn’t have a parent, legal guardian, or a guardian ad litem to represent his or her interests
- A court determines that the legal guardian is incapacitated and can’t represent the child.
- A conflict of interest exists between the child and his or her guardian.
Any of these circumstances tolls the statute of limitations for a maximum of seven years or until the child’s legal representative settles the claim. The statute of limitations also begins running once the injured child reaches adulthood age.
Do I need an Orlando child injury attorney to handle my child’s injury claim?
Definitely consult an Orlando child injury attorney to better understand your options and learn how best to protect your legal rights. When a child sustains a serious injury, they often require comprehensive care throughout their recovery period. As a parent, you perform these and many other tasks, often while continuing to earn a living.
Our Orlando child injury attorneys take care of the legal details while their clients take care of their families. They review evidence, analyze liability issues, and evaluate injuries. They ensure compliance with statutes of limitations and court directives. Attorneys intervene with insurance companies on their client’s behalf, and they lay the groundwork for productive settlement negotiations. If necessary, they use a lawsuit to protect their clients’ interests.
When you consult our Orlando child injury attorneys, your initial appointment is complimentary. You spend time with a legal representative and share your story. You learn more about your options and get the information you need to determine your next move. Attorneys won’t pressure you to make a claim or file a lawsuit; they explain your options, and you decide what’s best for your injured child and your family.
Should You Contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A.?
It is easy to put off making a simple phone call or completing an online form. When it comes to securing legal representation, place this important action at the top of your to-do list. Contacting us immediately following your child’s accident will allow us to access important evidence while it is still fresh. From witness statements to accident scene photos and police reports, we need time to review everything in fine detail.
Do not speak with insurance company representatives. They do not have your best interests in mind. If your child suffered serious injuries due to the actions of another individual, contact Michael T. Gibson, P.A., today for a free case evaluation. If we take your case, you will owe us nothing up front. Rather, we collect our fee from any final compensation ultimately awarded to you.
Pursuing justice is not easy, and each case is different. The outcome of your particular civil action will depend upon the details of your case. You must act quickly due to the statute of limitations.
Personal injury cases are allowed four years from the date of injury, while wrongful death cases are allowed two years from the date of death. This time can pass before you know it. Let us help you navigate the civil action process by providing strong legal representation for your case. What happened to your child may require a long recovery or may result in a permanent disability. Whether you were traveling to the park, to school, or to visit grandparents, the injuries that your child suffered demand accountability and possible compensation.
Call Michael T. Gibson, P.A., today for your child’s Orlando auto accident injuries. We will work hard to secure the best possible outcome for your case. While we are aggressive and firm in our approach with insurance companies, we are compassionate with our clients. Learn more by calling us now at 407-422-4529, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814