Being involved in a car accident is stressful enough, and when your child is also in the car, the situation can be even scarier.
We all want to protect our children from danger, but in a car accident, their wellbeing can be out of our control. When put in that terrible situation, we all want to ensure that our children are okay – both physically and emotionally – but it can be hard to know what to do.
Here are some steps you can take after your child is involved in a car accident.
Seeking Medical Attention is Essential!
Seeking medical attention as soon as possible is vital after a car accident. Regardless of the severity of the accident, it is important that you seek medical attention for your child: both for the child’s safety, and to ensure that you have complete documentation if you choose to file an insurance claim. However, you can evaluate the severity of the accident to decide whether an ER trip or pediatrician visit is more appropriate.
If your child is unconscious after the accident or has serious injuries, take them to the ER immediately. However, if your child does not have serious injuries and the car accident was minor, consider taking your child to their pediatrician instead. If you’re unable to get a last-minute appointment at your child’s pediatrician, take your child to an urgent care clinic, as it could ensure that your child receives medical attention quickly without having to go to the ER.
If you were also involved in the accident, make sure to seek medical attention for yourself as well. Even though your child feels like your first priority, you could have also incurred injuries in the accident, and your child is much better off when their parent is healthy.
Is your child reacting to the car accident in a normal way?
Directly after the crash, do you notice your child crying? Believe it or not, after an accident, hearing your child cry is a good thing. Crying does not necessarily mean that your child is in pain, but it does immediately signal that they have not lost consciousness and were not stunned by the crash.
In the days following the accident, keep an eye on your child’s emotional reaction to the crash. Even if they experienced little or no physical injuries, their psychological health is also vital, so it is important to pay attention to their behavior and try to understand how they are responding. Depending on their age, the child will respond differently, so keep that in mind when trying to figure out if their response to the crash is normal. According to the State Insurance Regulatory Authority,
A normal response from a child between the ages of 0-6 might include:
- reverting to behavior from an earlier developmental period
- becoming clingy
If your child is between the ages of 6-12, a normal response might include:
- avoiding talking about the crash
- Acting more combative towards parents
- worrying about their family’s wellbeing more than usual
For a child between the ages of 13-18, a normal response might include:
- having a hard time sleeping and focusing on schoolwork
- experiencing mood swings
- avoiding social events
- experiencing a change in school performance
- overanalyzing their reaction to the crash
If you notice that your child is reacting to the accident in a way that does not correspond to the normal responses for their age range, be sure to discuss their reactions with a medical professional.
It’s also important to remember that you are probably feeling just as shaken up as your child, so make sure to take care of yourself and monitor your own response to the accident. Your child is happier and safer when you are also doing well.
These Physical Symptoms Could Indicate Injury in your Child
After seeking medical attention, you’ll want to make sure your child is healthy, or begins recovering. According to NBC News’s Today.com, there are specific symptoms to look out for in a child after a car accident, and if your child experiences more than two, you should contact a medical professional again. These symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Excessive crying
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of appetite
- Bowel irregularities
- Lack of interest in toys
- Abnormal breathing
- Bleeding from nose, mouth, or ears
- Vision issues
- Speech issues
- Lack of strength
Five Things You Can Do to Help Your Child Return to Normal Life
Do these five things to help your child readjust to normal life:
- Talk about the accident, but keep it in the past. Make it clear to your child that they are safe now.
- Remember to focus on the positives when talking to your child about the accident. Instead of pointing out what went wrong, discuss how well they reacted and praise them for other positive behavior to make sure they don’t dwell on the negative aspects of the crash.
- Keep to your normal routine, as this will bring your child comfort and help them feel safe and secure.
- Do activities with your child. Spend time with them and do fun things with them, like completing a puzzle, going for a walk, or watching a movie.
- Don’t be overprotective with your child. This could cause more harm than good – your child needs to know that they are safe now and that the danger has passed.
Don’t Forget about Car Seats!
If you experienced a minor accident, replacing their car seat might not be necessary. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an accident is only minor if:
- the car seat does not seem damaged
- no one involved in the accident was hurt
- the airbags did not deploy
- you were able to drive the vehicle away
- the door nearest the car seat was not damaged
If your accident does not fit these criteria, replace your child’s car seat with a new one for their safety.
Seek Legal Help from the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin
At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we know how hard it is to recover from a traumatic car accident, especially when children are involved. You don’t have to go through this alone, and we’re here to help.
You or your child could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, so after taking the necessary steps to ensure your safety, contact an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer. We’re ready to help you fight for the compensation you may deserve.