What To Do If Infant Is Involved in the Car Accident
At the Scene of the Accident
If you have been in a collision, even a seemingly serious one, you may not have suffered any injuries but can’t assume your child hasn’t. While your infant passenger may also be okay, it can be very difficult to tell whether a baby or small child is injured. Your baby may be crying simply due to the surprise or shock of the crash, but something more could be wrong. Similarly, not crying does not necessarily mean that your child is not injured.
If there is any question as to whether your infant may have suffered an injury, it is best not to move or pick him or her up. Wait for paramedics to arrive at the scene in order to carefully move and assess your child. Unfortunately, babies and small children are more susceptible to spinal cord damage caused by trauma than adults are.
In order to protect you and your child, do whatever you can at the scene of the accident, before emergency responders arrive, to alert oncoming traffic to the hazard. Use your four-way flashers, if they are functional. Wave your arms or a bright piece of clothing to signal to oncoming vehicles to avoid the collision scene.
After the Accident
At the emergency room or hospital, keep yourself apprised of what tests your baby is being subjected to. Request that all hospital records be passed on to your family doctor or pediatrician for follow-up.
If you did not attend the hospital, then have your child checked by his or her own doctor.
Regardless of any diagnosis, keep a careful eye on your child in the upcoming days and weeks. Look for any unusual behaviours or pain symptoms including excessive crying, unusual movements or facial expressions, or a lack of interest in playing and eating. If any unusual behaviours are noted, do not hesitate to follow up with your pediatrician and/or the hospital or clinic where you first sought care for your child.
With respect to keeping your vehicle safe, it may be best to find a replacement car seat. Much like a helmet, car seats may become less effective after being involved in a serious accident or collision, even if there is no visible damage.
If Your Child Is Seriously Injured
If your child has sustained a serious and permanent injury, you will undoubtedly incur medical expenses to care for your child. Unfortunately, in the case of brain injury, paralysis, or other serious physical injury, your child’s future educational and employment opportunities may also be limited, depending on the type of injury.
If another driver is at fault for the collision, and even if you are at fault, you may consider commencing a lawsuit on behalf of your child to access liability coverage through ICBC. While it may seem bizarre to sue yourself on your child’s behalf, this may be the most sensible option if your child has incurred injuries. While your auto insurance premiums will likely rise, this is far preferable to paying for significant medical and other expenses out of pocket.
Further, when a person is sued in negligence, the victim is generally entitled to compensation purely for pain and suffering, which your child will be unable to access if you do not commence a lawsuit.
As a minor cannot commence a lawsuit, you will need to find a litigation guardian to bring the lawsuit on your child’s behalf, acting as a “trustee.” Where another driver is at fault, you may act as your child’s litigation guardian. However, where you are at fault and must be named as a defendant in the lawsuit, an impartial third party should ideally act as litigation guardian for the child.
In Bunnah (Guardian ad litem of) v. Bunnah, 2016 BCSC 264 (CanLII), for example, the infant plaintiff sued his mother, with his aunt acting as litigation guardian. The B.C. Supreme Court awarded the child, who was age five at the time of the accident, $31,000. This amount was to compensate him for injuries to his face, including a laceration, severe bruising, and a subsequent infection, and a several month long bout of anxiety.
Speak to a Vancouver Car Accident Lawyer at Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation
Very complex legal issues can arise when your child has been injured, and you as a parent involved in an accident. It is always best to speak to a personal injury lawyer to help you with your unique situation and to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to avoid a conflict of interest. If you as a parent must be named as a defendant, your ICBC policy will provide your defence, so you will not need to worry about hiring a separate lawyer for your defence.
Our team at Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation is experienced in lawsuits involving injured infant plaintiffs. We can help your child receive the compensation he or she is entitled to in the event of a car accident. Call us for a consultation with a car accident lawyer in Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam, Burnaby, Richmond or New Westminster at 604-654-2250.