Injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among American children under the age of eight, according to the National Highway Safety Administration.
During a car accident, children may be more likely to suffer serious injuries compared to adult passengers given their small size. A child will not sustain the impact of the collision like an adult and may be more likely to be thrown about the vehicle which makes them more vulnerable to head injuries, broken bones, and internal injuries.
Head injuries are incredibly common for children in motor vehicle crashes, especially in those children under age one. For many children damage caused by head injuries can last for many years. When a child suffers head trauma during a collision, neurological deficits may appear later in life that affect growth and social interaction. Additionally, brain injuries affecting learning ability may go undetected until the child reaches school age.
Those children who are correctly using child safety restraints face a lower risk of suffering serious or fatal injuries during a car accident.
The Importance of Child Safety Seats
The National Highway Safety Administration reports that the use of child safety seats has proven effect in reducing incapacitating injuries for children under the age of eight in any crash type. In simple terms, an incapacitating injury is a serious injury other than a fatal injury. This class of injury prevents the victim from walking or continuing other activities they were capable of performing prior to the accident.
In rollover accidents, children who are unrestrained are three times as likely to suffer an incapacitating injury compared to a restrained child. In accidents in which a vehicle was hit on the side, an unrestrained child was eight times more likely to sustain incapacitating injuries compared to those children in safety seats. Statistics like these make it clear how important child safety seats are to protecting young lives.
In fact, in Illinois under the Child Passenger Protection Act, children under the age of eight must be secured in a child safety seat. Failure to adhere to this law can result in a fine for the driver.
Different types of car seats exist for different stages of a child’s life. Therefore, it is incredibly important for parents and caregivers to make sure they understand the difference between car seat types and which is appropriate for their little one’s size and age. It is also important to read the instructions for installation to ensure the safety seat will properly protect the child. An incorrectly installed safety seat or using a seat that is improper for the child’s age or size can be just as dangerous as having no safety seat at all.
It is important to remember that children involved in car accidents have rights under Illinois law. However, when a personal injury victim is a child, the process for filing a claim and recovering damages from a negligent party can differ greatly from that of an adult. For instance, the statute of limitations for filing a claim for a personal injury may not begin until the child turns eighteen, the legal age of majority in our state. Additionally, some claims may require court approval of any settlement reached between the victim and at-fault driver.
Thus, it is important to seek out an experienced personal injury attorney who has the experience with minors’ cases to ensure your rights or the rights of your loved one is protected. Call Abels & Annes, P.C. today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Prior Blog Entry:
Passenger Injuries are Possible on CTA Vehicles, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, published March 1, 2017.
Children Injured in Motor Vehicle Traffic Crashes, U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, May 2010.
Child Passenger Safety Requirements, Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.