So your child was just involved in a car accident what should you do immediately?
- First get them the medical attention necessary, a doctor's testimony might be needed in the future for assessing damages.
- If medical assistance isn't needed get the other driver's information but do not discuss the accident or apologize which could show liability.
- You should also take pictures and document the damages for further use.
- While waiting keep a record of all medical bills, injuries or any lost wages due to those injuries.
Florida has put in effect a "No Fault' Act which means the person(s) injured must seek payment of medical bills from their insurance company; if damages exceed $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection you can seek the rest from the car driver who caused the accident and their insurance company. However, a minor cannot bring a claim themselves so the attorney must represent through one or both parents. One of the differences in recovering damages in a case involving a minor is that the court could put the money into a conservative account until they reach majority and any use of the money will require a court approval until that point.
There are also different stages of actions taken by the court based upon the amount of money decided in settlement. If the settlement is under $15,000 and a lawsuit has not yet been filed than no court approval is needed. If the net settlement (after attorney fees are subtracted from the gross settlement) exceeds $15,000 than court approval is needed and a guardian of the property must be appointed. A guardian of the property is the person who collects the net judgment and executes the necessary releases. Once the settlement reaches $50,000 and the net settlement is still above $15,000 than a guardian ad litem is also appointed. A guardian ad litem makes sure the actions of the minor's attorney are in the minors best interests and reports to the court their decision. Possible damages could include compensation for medical bills, lost future earning power, rehabilitation costs and pain and suffering.
What if the minor got in an accident while using their parent's car, who would be liable?
Whoever is the owner of the car is usually liable and in this case it could be by negligent entrustment to an inexperienced driver. One example of a case where this doesn't apply is if the parent isn't actually using the car but just signed off on it because their child couldn't; in that case the parent is not the beneficial owner of the car.
What if your kid tries crossing the street at a crosswalk and is hit by a car, who is liable then?
If the child is under the age of 6 then the driver is completely liable since the child cannot even be partially held accountable for their actions. Otherwise Florida has comparable law which means that fault can be apportioned between the two parties in determining damages. The no fault policy works in this case too, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company and it will cover you even if you weren't in a vehicle at the time.
What if they were crossing the street outside of a crosswalk?
The driver can still be held partially responsible since they must be in control of their vehicle at all times and you can still receive compensation.
In a worst case scenario the child may die during or after the accident, what happens then?
You still have to go through the same basic procedures except with the addition of needing to open a probate case. There is a two year statute of limitations and the same damages are recoverable plus any funeral or burial costs.
Contact Feldman Morgado, P.A. about handling your child injury case, our experienced trial attorneys work diligently to explore all avenues of liability and pursue the compensation to which you are entitled for your losses.