Every year, dozens of children are injured and even killed in accidents on Michigan roads. According to the Michigan Department of State Police, a total of 28 children under the age of 15 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, accounting for 2.6% of all traffic deaths in the state. In order to prevent such tragedies, strict rules are in place requiring car seats and restraints when transporting children, but when a crash is especially severe, injuries can still result.
Any car crash is traumatic, regardless of who was involved or how it occurred. However, when your child is injured as a passenger in an accident, there are certain differences you need to be aware of concerning liability and compensation. In this blog, the team at Conybeare Law Office goes over these differences and how a Michigan car accident lawyer can help your family navigate them.
Who Pays My Child’s Medical Bills in a Car Accident?
A child injured in a car accident will generally have their bills covered by Michigan’s no-fault system. Exactly who pays depends on the type of insurance you have and, sometimes, how the crash happened.
Under the Michigan auto insurance laws, there is an order of priority for who is responsible for paying a child’s medical bills and other no-fault benefits. Generally, it goes like this:
- Your own auto insurance;
- If you didn’t have auto insurance, a resident relatives’ auto insurance;
- If you didn’t have auto insurance and you didn’t live with a relative who had auto insurance, benefits are paid through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.
This is the most common order of priority, but it can vary depending on the circumstances. For that reason, it is important to talk with an experienced auto accident lawyer to ensure your child receives the no-fault benefits he or she deserves. You must act timely to preserve your child’s no-fault benefits because an application must be submitted to the correct auto insurer within one year of the crash or the claim is barred.
A child injured in a car accident will receive the same no-fault benefits as adults, up to the limits of their parents’ personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages (e.g. if your teenager has a part-time job)
- Attendant care
How Do You Seek Compensation for a Child Injured in a Car Accident?
When a child is injured as a passenger in a car accident, seeking compensation from the at-fault party is similar to filing for compensation as an adult, except a minor child under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian file a car accident claim on their behalf.
There is also an extended statute of limitations for children injured in a car accident: while adults must file a claim within three years of the crash, a child injured in a car accident has up to one year after their 18th birthday to file. That said, waiting is not a good idea: as time passes, important accident evidence can be lost, so the sooner you act, the better.
The Court Must Approve All Settlements and Verdicts
When a settlement is reached in a child’s car crash injury claim, a judge must approve it. It ensures that a child’s best interests are protected and that the proposed outcome is fair. A judge may refuse settlements that fail to adequately compensate the child for their trauma and injuries.
They may also order the money to be placed in a restricted bank account or a non-transferable annuity to ensure the money is not spent by the parent or child before the child turns 18. However, in some instances, parents can use these funds to pay for education, medical bills, and housing.
What if I Was Responsible for My Child’s Injuries?
Statistics indicate that children are most likely to be injured when a parent or other family member is driving. If you are at fault for the accident, your child can generally secure compensation through the family’s auto insurance. Some insurance policies reduce the amount of insurance coverage if the injured person was related to the at-fault driver. For this reason, it is necessary for the attorney handling the claim to review your family’s insurance policy.
Third-Party Liability is When a Child is Injured as a Passenger
Third-party negligence causes many car accident injuries. The following are some of the most common third-party liability cases:
- Car crashes caused by distracted driving, such as drivers texting while driving.
- Car crashes caused by aggressive driving, such as speeding or frequent passing.
- City or private sector employees failing to pay attention or drive safely when operating a work-related vehicle, such as a bus, mail truck, or delivery van.
- Manufacturing defects, such as faulty brakes. In this situation, the manufacturer may be held liable.
- Accidents caused by uncleared road debris or faulty road repairs. In this case, state or municipal authorities may be responsible.
It is important to note that these lawsuits can be complicated, as the defendants are quick to dispute or deny liability and extensive investigation is often necessary. When the at-fault party is a governmental entity, there are often specific notice requirements that must be met, which makes filing a claim even more challenging.
To get the compensation your child deserves, you should work with an experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyer who knows what’s at stake and has the diligence and dedication needed to hold a negligent driver, employer, or manufacturer accountable. Your child’s wellbeing was impacted by their careless actions or decisions, and a Michigan car accident lawyer can pursue them for the money needed to facilitate your child’s recovery.
Was Your Child Injured in a Car Accident? Get Help From a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
At Conybeare Law Office, we have been helping injured child passengers and their families in Michigan since 1984. When a car accident causes your child physical, emotional, and financial harm, we aggressively negotiate for the compensation they need to cover their medical bills, support their recovery, and compensate them for their pain and suffering. To schedule a free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys, call The Bear today at 269-769-BEAR or fill out this contact form. If you hire us for your claim, you owe us nothing unless we win. Remember: if it’s not fair, call the Bear!