As a parent, you make every effort to keep your children safe. When you are driving with them in the car, you take extra precautions to protect your precious cargo. However, even when a child is properly secured in the back seat of a car, he could be seriously injured in a car accident. When a child sustains a traumatic brain injury in a vehicle crash, he could be facing a lifetime of challenges and limitations. We take a look at this devastating injury and what you can do to protect your child’s future when the crash was not your fault.
How Traumatic Brain Injuries Happen in Car Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of disability and death in children aged 0-4 and adolescents aged 15-19. An estimated 500,000 children under the age of 15 are admitted to emergency departments each year with a TBI, and around seven percent of those injuries are caused by motor vehicle crashes. That means that, on average, 35,000 children sustain TBIs in car accidents each year. These injuries can happen in several ways. If a child’s head is snapped back and forth when a car is hit from behind, brain tissue can be bruised. This can happen even when a child is correctly buckled into a car seat or booster. If the child is unrestrained or slips out of an ill-fitting belt, he could suffer a direct impact with the dashboard, windshield, or door. Whatever the cause of the head injury was, the impact can be severe.
Lasting Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children
If your child suffers a TBI in a car accident, his prognosis for recovery will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the brain injury, the area of the brain affected, and the child’s age. Research has shown that the younger the child is at the time of the injury, the more likely it is that he will experience long-term difficulties. Long-term and permanent consequences of a brain injury generally fall into one of the following three categories:
A child who suffers brain trauma may experience problems with both gross and fine motor skills. He may have painful headaches and frequently feel tired. Children may also develop seizures after sustaining a TBI.
Many of the tasks required of children in school can be impacted by a brain injury. Memory, attention, concentration, organizational skills, communication, comprehension, and general intellectual functioning can all be compromised by a brain injury.
A child who has sustained a brain injury may undergo personality changes and have difficulty controlling impulsive, aggressive, and irrational behavior. He may have difficulty relating to others and forming friendships.
Some of these impairments can be managed with rehabilitation and therapy, as well as medication. These treatments may be required for many years and can be costly. As you learn more about the long-term consequences of your child’s brain injury, you may begin to worry about how you will pay for it all.
Can You Hold the Driver Who Caused the Crash Liable?
Before you even have a full picture of your child’s future, you may need to consider whether you can hold the at-fault driver responsible for your child’s current and future medical bills. Because a minor child cannot file a car accident claim or lawsuit in their own name in Virginia, you will have to do so on his behalf. Damages your child may be awarded include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, future medical care, permanent scarring or disfigurement, loss of enjoyment in life, and loss of the ability to earn future income. A personal injury attorney can work with you to establish the value of your child’s claim.