What Compensation Is There for a Child In An Auto Collision?
Few things are more heart wrenching than the pain of a child. An automobile collision can impact a child physically and emotionally, with years of repercussions. Parents and guardians can investigate the options for securing compensation for a child after a car accident.
Michigan’s Laws for Auto Accidents
Michigan adjusted its car insurance laws to fortify its no-fault protections for accident victims. Any passenger, including children, has access to no-fault benefits. Personal injury protection coverage provides benefits regardless of who caused the accident. Compensation covers medical costs, replacement services, attendant care and lost wages.
The July 2020 insurance code updates directly injured parties to pursue no-fault benefits initially from the insurer of the vehicle an occupant was riding in. If such benefits are unavailable or the child was not a passenger in a car, the minor can recover initial medical coverage through a parent or guardian’s auto insurance. Children of divorced parents usually rely on the policy of whichever parent is the primary caregiver.
When a passenger, pedestrian or cyclist does not have auto insurance, the Michigan Assigned Claim Plan permits parties to seek no-fault benefits. Parents without insurance can pursue MACP coverage on behalf of a child.
Car insurance is a requirement for vehicle owners. No-fault insurance laws in the state help people quickly access medical care after an accident instead of fighting drawn-out cases in court or struggling with another driver’s insurer.
The Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility administers the MACP to ensure benefits for accident victims without insurance. This program covers riders, pedestrians and bicyclists who do not have a car. It does not offer benefits to individuals who own a car but neglect to carry state-mandated insurance.
After an accident, an injured person can apply for no-fault benefits. The individual or parent of a minor child will supply reasonable proof of loss to help establish damages. As with other legal forms, the application can be challenging to understand. The assistance of an attorney with experience in car accidents can help a parent to avoid making a mistake or forgetting to provide valuable information for the claim.
The cap for the coverage is $250,000. For excess medical expenses above that amount, injured parties need to turn to other medical coverage or sue the at-fault driver. The limit to file a claim is one year after the date of the accident. The MACP can deny claims or suspend benefits for uncooperative applicants.
Unique Circumstances for Children After Accidents
A minor child has a few crucial differences from an adult who files a claim. For example, adults have up to three years to submit claims after an accident. However, a child cannot file claims or represent themselves in court. A parent or custodian must do so for the child, but some might neglect to carry out this responsibility. To protect a child’s right to pursue damages, minor children can file a claim up to one year after their 18th birthday.
The court takes a greater interest in cases with children since the benefits should be for the sake of the child and not someone else. Unfortunately, an unscrupulous caretaker could interfere. To avoid this, a judge must approve any settlement or jury verdict.
The court can place restrictions to protect the awarded funds until the child is 18. However, the judge reviews the circumstances and may allow parents access to compensation to care for medical bills, housing costs and educational expenses.
Nuances arise when the child has a disability or other extenuating factors. The counsel of an attorney can help parents make a suitable decision.
Types of Compensation for Children
As with other personal injury cases, an auto accident involving a child can have economic and noneconomic damages. The greater the extent of injury, the higher the payout should be. Since the aftereffects can last years, parents must work to present a complete picture of the consequences of the crash.
Noneconomic damages are difficult to quantify. Courts rely on precedent and the testimony of professionals to determine how much a child should receive for pain and suffering.
Children may struggle more than adults to express the effects of an accident. Children may respond to such trauma in unique ways, and the total outcome of the incident may not reveal itself until years later. Parents often have to rely on professionals to present a clear scope of emotional injuries.
Additionally, a case with a child might be more likely to involve punitive damages. Such compensation is rare, but the court uses these expenses to send a message to grossly negligent parties. The costs do not intend to make the plaintiff whole but serve as discipline to an entity for excessive carelessness. The punishment is also a warning to similar organizations.
Economic damages cover bills and expenses for things like medical costs, lost wages, attendant care and property damage. A crucial consideration with children is the potential for lost future wages and the cost of future medical care.
Again, professionals may be necessary to establish the full extent of such aftereffects. If the trajectory of a child’s life and career changes because of an accident, families can try to help the court to see the total cost of this transition.
Types of Injuries Children May Suffer
Children may seem resilient, but sometimes their injuries display differently than adults. Internal damage may show up much later.
After an accident, parents or guardians should take a child for an examination. A physical assessment is vital even if the child shows no signs of pain or injury. Parents also need to watch for symptoms of damage in the days and weeks following the accident and document any changes.
Such steps are essential when a child is preverbal. The following reactions might be signs of severe injury in a toddler:
- Sleeping issues
- Changing eating habits
- Expressing increased irritability or sensitivity
- Panting or heavy breathing
- Crying abnormally during dressing or diaper changes
Documenting all changes in actions and behavior can be helpful when presenting a claim or during a trial. Insurance companies or defense teams can seize on any inconsistency or confusion to claim that the issue did not result from the accident. Such a contention could lessen or eliminate the amount of compensation.
Why Hiring a Lawyer Can Be Beneficial
The amount of sympathy people have for children may convince an accident victim that a case on behalf of a child is an easy win. However, there are no sure bets on legal issues. The court wants to determine the facts, and insurance companies have strong legal teams to defend their case and take advantage of laws and precedents.
Since families have to navigate through mountains of paperwork and legal minutiae while trying to recuperate physically and emotionally, mistakes can easily occur. A defense team might even seize on an error and claim fraud, which can be very costly. With the help of a strong legal team, a family can focus on other issues while pursuing the maximum compensation available.
A Law Firm That Supports Children and Their Families
The Mike Morse Law Firm is more than a business of legal professionals. Our support for the community through programs and scholarships confirms our commitment to aiding others, even the littlest of accident victims.
If your family needs assistance and representation for your child’s accident, don’t hesitate to call us at 855-MIKE-WINS for a complimentary and confidential case review. You can also contact us through our website.