What Should I Do if My Child Was Hurt in a Fort Worth Car Accident?
There is nothing more devastating than seeing your child hurt. Hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur in Texas every year—there were more than 470,000 in 2020. More than 200,000 people were injured. Not a single day went by that someone didn’t die in a crash on Texas roads.
Injuries can range from sprains and broken bones to massive traumas, brain injury, and death. If your child has been injured in a car accident, you are likely reeling from the incident and lost on what to do next.
Your child’s health and future are what is most important. Getting them safe and healthy again is the primary concern. Beyond that, there are other considerations regarding you and your child’s future, including potential legal actions.
If you believe the accident was the fault of another individual, you may have a viable personal injury claim. Even if you yourself were not injured, Texas recognizes the right of a parent or guardian or to file a lawsuit on behalf of the child. A reputable Fort Worth car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options.
Get Safe and Seek Medical Care Immediately
It bears repeating—the first and primary concern is the safety and health of your boy or girl. This means making sure the immediate environment around you is safe and getting emergency responders and personnel to come as quickly as possible.
Promptly seeking medical care as soon as possible is essential, even if you think you or your child are okay following a crash. There are several types of injuries that may not manifest until a later time.
For example, there could be issues related to a concussion or other head trauma that could get progressively worse without medical intervention. Alternatively, the child may have suffered an orthopedic issue, like a herniated disc, that may not be apparent at this moment in time.
There may be psychological issues or trauma that may not be apparent to you. Regardless of the situation, even if your accident did not require emergency medical services, it’s always a good idea to get your child in for a full medical evaluation as soon as possible.
Secure Evidence To Help Support Your Child’s Claim
Gathering and quickly securing evidence related to the car accident could make or break your claim. Failing to get it could hurt your child’s chances at recovery. The amount and range of types of evidence relevant to your case can be daunting.
Gather Information from the Accident Scene
If possible, try to take some photos at the scene of the crash. Take photos of the vehicles involved, your child’s injuries (as well as your own, if you were hurt), and any property damage, such as a damaged sign or fence.
It can also be helpful to take some pictures or video of the general area where the crash occurred. If there was something in the road, or a confusing sign, or anything else that might be a helpful reference point—this can help jog your memory later and give your attorney useful information.
Get Copies of Accident Reports
You’ll need to secure accident reports and police reports if there were any. When emergency medical personnel or police respond to accidents, there will be records generated. EMS will generate medical records and other reports. Police will create accident reports and other documents.
These pieces of evidence are particularly important as they come from unbiased sources that have no stake in the claim. They are credible.
Save All Medical Records
If your child ultimately requires medical care (and it bears repeating, they should at least be evaluated), there will be medical records, billing records, and imaging related to his or her care. All of this is relevant to your potential lawsuit.
Consider Potential Legal Options
After ensuring the mental and physical health of your child is addressed as best as possible, there are potential legal options you may wish to explore.
One such option is filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver or drivers. Personal injury matters are those cases where you are alleging negligence on the part of another party (a defendant) that resulted in injury to you. A lawsuit can be filed on behalf of the child by a parent, guardian or a “next friend,” if no guardian is available.
In Texas, to prove negligence, you need to establish certain elements. Texas attorneys refer to these elements shorthand as “duty, breach, causation, and damages.”
For your case, you will need to show that the at-fault driver owed your child a certain duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty, and that there was an injury that was caused by the defendant’s conduct.
This may sound simple: someone hit your car and hurt your child. But negligence matters are actually extremely complex, and each element presents challenges to your recovery.
Only an experienced attorney can help you get the recovery your child deserves and obtain the evidence you need. Read on for brief information regarding the importance of evidence, and what you can do early on to help your claim succeed.
Act Quickly to Ensure Better Chances at Recovery
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury matters for most cases. However, given that a child is a minor, there are exceptions made for children. Specifically, Texas law holds that the two-year time limit doesn’t start to run until the child reaches the age of 18.
In other words, the clock doesn’t start running until he or she is an adult. Despite this exception, and additional time permitted by law, there are many reasons why you should not wait to at least consult with an attorney.
Primarily, you should not wait because, over time, evidence will become harder to track down and obtain, if not impossible. For example, police reports may be archived from accidents that occurred over a decade ago. Finding those key pieces of evidence could prove extremely challenging in the far future. By acting promptly now, you can ensure these reports don’t get away from you.
For the same reason, medical records may be harder to track down in the future. Hospital systems are constantly changing and clinics are opening and closing. Waiting to obtain your child’s records could result in massive delays in your case.
Similarly, over time, memory fades, changes, and becomes less credible. Your own testimony and any witness statements may hold less weight over time. For these and countless other reasons, you should act promptly to ensure a better future for you and your child.
What Types of Recovery and Compensation Are Available if My Child is Injured in a Car Crash in Fort Worth?
The goal of personal injury matters is to obtain recovery for damages. This usually takes the form of monetary compensation—including economic and non-economic damages.
Recovering damages can become very complicated, with several factors coming into play. Of course, your child is entitled to compensation regarding the medical bills for care received as a result of the accident. But recovery is not limited to past medical care. Future medical care, including the need for ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, and other needs, are all potential sources of damages for which you and your child can recover.
Damages further account for the future needs of your child. You and your child are entitled to recovery if he or she has been impacted in such a way that they cannot work when they get older, have difficulty learning or understanding, or have had their life impacted detrimentally in some other way.
Finally, car accidents often take a psychological toll. Unfortunately, children often suffer mental health issues as a result of such a traumatic event. All of these injuries are damages for which you can seek compensation.
This amount of information can be daunting and staggering, and it barely scratches the surface of what you can and should do for your child after an accident. To ensure the best future for you and your child, it is important to contact an experienced Fort Worth, TX personal injury attorney today.