When children are involved in car crashes, they are susceptible to a number of injury types and causes of death. It is particularly tragic when a child dies or suffers serious injuries that may have life-long effects. Some of their injuries are immediately obvious, but many will not become evident for several days or until medical tests are made. Children also suffer emotional distress from an auto accident that is often significantly greater than that sustained by adults.
The top cause of death among children and adolescents in 2016 was motor vehicle crashes. A motor vehicle accident was the leading cause of accidental death among teens (the cause of more than one-third of all teen deaths).
Every state in the U.S. has a child restraint law that establishes the type of safety seat and the age and size limits. Proper use of restraints will reduce the number of injuries and fatalities among children. For children aged 3 and under, the risk of death in a car crash is reduced by 75%. For children aged 4 to 8, the risk of death is reduced by 50%. More than 40% of the unintentional injury deaths due to vehicles involved children who were not properly restrained.
The following table presents the number of children involved in traffic accidents, the number injured and the number of fatalities in Virginia in the last three years.
Getting immediate medical evaluation and treatment is vital for any child involved in an auto accident. Children may show immediate signs of injury. It is not uncommon, however, for them to manifest injury only after a few days. Medical evaluation and the tests that support the evaluation are often vital for a child’s full long-term recovery. It is also critical for your auto accident attorney who will construct a case against the driver who is liable for the accident. The most common injuries children incur in a car crash include:
- Head and neck injuries (a DOT study in 2010 discovered that head injuries were the most common trauma sustained by children in crashes). These injuries include traumatic brain injury, concussions, contusions, neck injuries, skull base fractures. Some of these injuries lead to temporary or permanent developmental challenges, behavior problems or cognitive difficulties.
- Airbag injuries. The reason states instruct drivers on the placement of children in a vehicle is that they are better protected than in the front seat. The front passenger airbag can cause a child to sustain a broken nose or a broken neck.
- Seat belt injuries are typically seen when a child is riding without required restraints. They can also occur when a safety seat fails or is incorrectly installed.
- Glass injuries (broken windows or windshield) can cause cuts on a child’s face, sometimes leaving permanent scars. There is also a risk of dental injuries or trauma to the face. A child is more likely than an adult to suffer permanent scarring.
- When bracing themselves for the accident, children sometimes sustain fractures of the hand, wrist, and foot. A seat belt can also cause a broken pelvis. Children who are ejected from the vehicle may suffer broken femurs or arms.
- Chest injuries may result from tightening of restraints or contacting the seat in front of them. Children may also have thoracic injuries: broken ribs, lung injuries, internal bleeding.
- Permanent disability or incapacitation from spinal cord injuries, loss of a limb or nerve damage. Rollover crashes are most likely to cause these injuries or to cause a fatal injury to a child.
- Psychological problems, including PTSD.
When we examine the statistics for child injuries and fatalities in 1975 and in 2019, we see a definite trend toward fewer crashes and fewer fatalities. Some of this can be attributed to improvements in child safety seats, greater knowledge of how bodies of all sizes tend to react to particular types of crash impact. Great strides have also been made in the safety features and technology of our vehicles. We can only hope to discover the kind of technology that will protect every child from injury in a car crash.
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
If your child has been injured in a car crash you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for injuries and harm suffered by your child. Claims and legal cases for children are complex. This makes it important to engage an attorney with compassion, ability to relate to children, experience, and a commitment to winning the compensation that will make that child whole. Bettina Altizer and her team of experts have been representing children effectively for more than 30 years. They have earned the trust and respect of the community. They understand that when fighting for a child, it’s about the money.