Child car accident injuries are a distressing subject, especially if a child was killed in a car accident. Child car accidents are common, however, and the same types of personal injuries keep recurring, sometimes even when the child is properly restrained. Unfortunately, car accidents are one of the leading causes of child injuries and deaths.
Common Car Accident Injuries that Children Sustain
A car accident involving a child is a particularly traumatic event. Children involved in car accidents suffer certain types of injuries more than other people do. Following is a list of some of the most common car accident injuries that children suffer.
Head and Neck Injuries
Common head and neck injuries include:
- Other soft tissue injuries;
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI);
- Skull fractures; and
- Other head injuries.
Neck injuries can cause severe, long-term pain. Head injuries, by contrast, can retard a child’s motor and cognitive development. A child can suffer a head injury even by contact with a rapidly inflating airbag.
Thoracic injuries are injuries to the torso, including internal organs. They are typically caused by impact to the chest, which is why they are often caused by car accidents.
A broken rib is probably the most common type of thoracic injury. Lung injuries are also common. Unfortunately, thoracic injuries are more likely to befall infants than any other age group.
Spinal Injuries and Disability
Spinal injuries include herniated discs, vertebral fractures, and spinal and nerve damage. Such injuries frequently result in long-term disability, including paralysis. Spinal injuries occur most frequently in rollover accidents, and children under 12 are the most common victims. Permanent injuries to a young child often justify massive compensation awards.
An injury to the abdomen can impact the liver, kidneys, and reproductive system, among others. This type of injury is common among children aged 4 to 7. Infants suffer more serious injuries, and spleen damage is typical. Any of these injuries can be life-threatening.
Upper and Lower Extremity Injuries
The upper and lower extremities include the hands, feet, arms, and legs. The most common injuries include pelvic fractures, broken collarbones, wrist injuries, ankle injuries, and broken thighs. These injuries are common among car accident victims under seven years old.
Facial injuries, generally caused by breaking glass, can result in permanent disfigurement. The effects of facial disfigurement can be devastating on multiple levels–physically, socially, and psychologically. Unfortunately, psychological scarring can be permanent.
Children and car accidents don’t go well together. Cuts, lacerations, and abrasions are the most common consequence, for example, when a child is not properly restrained. Even a properly restrained child, however, can suffer these injuries.
Child car accident victims are more likely than adults to suffer permanent psychological damage. PTSD, for example, is a common consequence. PTSD symptoms include insomnia, nightmares, and eating disorders, among other symptoms.
Factors that Affect the Severity of Car Crash Injuries in Children
Some car accidents involving children are worse than others. Below are descriptions of some factors that can make an accident worse for a child.
Rollover accidents are among the deadliest of all accidents for children and adults because the vehicle flips upside down during the accident. At least 10% of all children involved in rollover accidents suffer catastrophic injuries. Vehicles with high centers of gravity, such as SUVs, are most likely to roll over.
Lack of Appropriate Child Restraint
It’s not enough to simply use a child restraint. You have to use the right one, place it correctly, and fasten it properly. In rollover accidents, less than 10% suffer serious injuries, while 30% of unrestrained children do.
Front Seat Rides
Do not allow a small child to ride in the front seat of the car. It’s just as simple as that. Placing a child in the front seat doubles their risk of suffering a serious injury in a car accident. The younger the child is, the more serious the consequences of this mistake are likely to be.
Airbags save many lives, but they can also injure a child sitting in the front seat. An airbag literally explodes as it inflates. This explosion was designed for adults to withstand, not children. For children, an airbag impact is like being punched in the face. Face, head, and neck injuries are common when airbags inflate into a child’s face.
Be careful when you purchase a child's car seat because not all of them are designed or manufactured appropriately. In the event of child car seat injuries that occur even after you properly installed it and fastened your child into it, consider the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit against the car seat manufacturer.
A child who is properly restrained is not all that likely to suffer serious injuries in a side-impact crash that does not result in a rollover. The risk increases many-fold, however, if the child is unrestrained because a side impact can toss a child’s body like a rag doll.
If you are rear-ended with a child in the car, the good news is that such accidents are rarely fatal or catastrophic. The bad news is that maladies such as whiplash, soft tissue injuries, and concussions are very high. These injuries can be very painful, yet symptoms might not appear for hours or even days after the accident.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents
Children often suffer catastrophic injuries in car accidents, sometimes even after an adult properly restrains them. Imagine the consequences then, a car or a bicyclist hits a child playing in the street. The rate of fatality and catastrophic injury is shockingly high.
How to Protect Your Child in a Car Crash
Car safety for kids implicates some different concerns than car safety for adults. Baby safety in a car is particularly important because infant bone fractures are common during car accidents. Since babies have softer bones than adults or even older children do, a bone fracture can be devastating or even fatal. Here are some safety tips for children:
- Buy the safest vehicle you can find.
- Buy the right car seat based on your child’s height and weight. Install it carefully, using the accompanying instructions.
- Always place your child in a restraining seat and make sure it has been fastened properly.
- Do not place the child in bulky clothing before fastening the car seat. If necessary, put a blanket over your child and keep a bulky jacket for your child to use later.
- Don’t let your child ride in the front seat.
- Ideally, your child should sit in the middle of the rear seat. Children involved in car accidents are safest in this position.
- Place children under 24 months in a rear-facing car seat.
- Ignore your children while you are driving, because fussing over them can distract you. Bring another caretaker with you if you have to.
- Don’t drive all night with children in the car. You could fall asleep at the wheel.
It also wouldn’t hurt to place a “Baby on Board” sign in a location that is visible to other drivers.
We realize nothing is more important than the safety of your children. However, if an accident does happen, you owe it to your child to seek full compensation. An aggressive response to child car accident injuries is the best way to deter careless drivers from repeating their menacing conduct.
The Northwest Indiana personal injury lawyers at Stracci Law Group can help. Our eight decades of combined trial experience and our stellar track record of success at the negotiating table can bring your child justice by maximizing the value of their claim. We are not out-of-state imports. We have practiced in Indiana for our entire careers, and we know how the local legal system works.
Call Stracci Law Group at (219) 525-1000 or contact us online. We serve clients in Gary, Crown Point, Hammond, Merrillville, Portage, Valparaiso, and across Northwest Indiana.