Who Can Sue When a Child Is Injured in a Car Crash?

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Madeleine Jones
August 17, 2018

baby sleeping in a car seat, injury lawyerEvery parent hopes it never happens, but sometimes a car crash with your child in the car is unavoidable. The law assumes that children don’t have the same well-informed judgement as adults, and have created special rules for compensation when a child is injured in a car accident. If your child is injured in an accident in Nevada, the damages you can claim depend on several factors. It’s important to speak to an expert accident lawyer at Cogburn Law Offices as soon as possible if your child has been involved in a crash in the Las Vegas area.

Child Injury Resources:

What is a Child Injury Claim?

For the most part, a child’s injury claim is very similar to an adult personal injury claim. You must prove negligence of another party, connect that negligent to the victim, determine the damages, and file a claim. In child injury cases, damages can be recovered for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of future income, if the accident impacts the child’s ability to earn a living as an adult. However, there are three things that make a child accident claim different:

  1. A child under the age of 18 cannot file a lawsuit. Legally, to act on behalf of a child, you have to be free of the accident and without responsibility for the injuries caused.
  2. A trust account with a bank must be created to deposit the settlement money for the child to receive when the child turns 18.
  3. In some cases, the lawyer must establish the amount of a long-term care (aka Life Care Plan) that maybe necessary to take care of the child’s injury.

How to Prove Negligence in a Nevada Car Accident Involving a Child

Nevada child car seat laws state that children who are younger than 6 years old and weigh less than 60 lbs. must ride in an approved safety restraint system. Children are generally safest riding in the back seat, and in vehicles containing front seat passenger air bags, infants and small children should always ride in the back. Parents or guardians that do not adequately secure their children prior to a car crash may not be eligible for full compensation due to the increased risks for costly injury or death.

If personal injuries or fatalities to children in car accidents are caused by the negligence of another party, negligence must be proven in a court of law. It must be shown that the party owed a duty of care to the child victim, and a breach of that duty caused injuries to the child. In car accidents, the duty of care is to drive with the same care and skill that other reasonable motorists would exhibit under the same conditions.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Injured Children in Nevada?

In Nevada, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of the injury or death. This includes claims for child injuries.  However, the child is able to file a claim until one year after their 18th birthday. In some situations, the minor can take legal action at any time before they turn 19. If you give formal notice before the statute of limitations runs out, then you may be able to extend the deadline. Most insurance companies will attempt to settle these cases out of court, where a Minor Trust Account must be established for deposits of settlement funds money for all child injuries. When a settlement is reached on child injury claims, the settlement must be approved by a judge prior to disbursement to ensure that the child’s best interest. For a more specific answer regarding your own case, contact a Las Vegas injury attorney.

Recovering Damages For a Child Involved in a Car Accident

The compensation awarded minors is somewhat limited in comparison to personal injury cases involving adults. Most insurance companies will cover the medical costs of a child involved in an accident, however, if there’s a dispute regarding these charges by the other party’s insurance company, medical expenses can be added to the damages in the suit.

Courts still rely on a burden of proof to show that the following less visible injuries were sustained:

  • Mental injury
  • Anguish and fear
  • Loss of livelihood

If the car accident results in the death of a child, the parents or legal guardian can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party. Damages for wrongful death are similar to those of other personal injury cases, but also include funeral expenses. In some wrongful death cases, damages for loss of society, the love and support that the child would have provided to the family, may also be awarded.

What if the Accident was Caused by a Minor?

Under Nevada law, the courts look at what kind of activity the child was engaged in during the accident and then whether or not the child was involved in the causation of the accident. The law applies different standards to different age groups when deciding whether a minor is liable for causing an accident.

  • Children 7 years or younger are generally not held liable for injuries they cause
  • Older children are help liable for negligence if they did not behave as a child of the same age would have
  • Middle teenagers to the age of 18 are held to the same level of negligence as adults

Because children don’t normally have much money of their own, there are several ways for a person injured by the minor to collect compensation. First, the actions of minors are very often covered by insurance. If a minor is driving a car, either the minor’s own automobile insurance or the ­insurance of the car owner (parent or employer) should cover the accident.

Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyers at Cogburn Law Offices

Lawsuits involving children are often more complicated and more delicate that normal ones. Rely on experienced injury attorneys to see your case through to the end and get you the compensation and settlement you deserve. If you or your child have been involved in a car accident, contact an experienced Las Vegas car accident attorney from Cogburn Law Firm for a free case consultation today.