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What to Do When a Child is Hit by a Car

child walking in a crosswalk

When a child is hit by a car, it’s crucial for parents to remain calm and follow these important steps:

  • Check on your child (do not move them)
  • Call 911
  • Take pictures
  • Talk (calmly) to witnesses
  • Keep a record of all medical treatment
  • Take care of your child as he or she deals with the trauma

1. Check on Your Child

If your child can talk, ask them if anything hurts before they get up. If they are unconscious or appear to be seriously injured, do not move them. Children hit by cars can suffer from broken bones, paralysis, and traumatic brain injuries, so it’s best to remain with the child until an ambulance arrives. 

2. Call 911

Even if your child does not appear to have serious injuries, it’s important to call 911 right away. 

A vehicle weighs thousands of pounds, so chances are colliding with or running over a child has done some kind of harm. Even if your child seems fine, it’s best to allow an EMT to examine them. If a medical expert determines your child should be taken to the hospital, go with them. 

A police officer will also show up to make a report. Be sure to give a detailed statement describing how the accident happened, as this will be evidence in any legal claims. 

 3. Take Pictures 

The officer should be taking photos, but you should take some as well to make sure you capture every detail you may not remember later. Photos should include:

  • The vehicle that hit your child
  • Car parts left in the street
  • Tire marks on the street
  • Street signs marking where the collision occurred
  • Your child’s injuries. 

Bruises and scrapes can show up days after the accident, so you will want to continue taking photos of your child’s injuries as time progresses. 

4. Talk to Witnesses

If anyone saw your child get hit by a car, gather their contact information and ask them to talk to the police. Your neighbors may have seen the car coming around the corner, or a shop owner may have watched the vehicle plow through a crosswalk. Having witnesses on your side can help when assessing liability.

5. Keep a Record of all Medical Treatments

From the time you call 911, medical expenses will begin to add up. Parents should not have to pay for an ambulance ride, emergency room visit, orthopedic appointments, and any other doctor visits resulting from a child hit by a car. Having organized bills will help when it comes to receiving compensation from the at-fault driver.

6. Take Care of Your Child as He or She Deals with the Trauma

In addition to recovering from medical injuries, your child is likely to deal with emotional suffering for months to come. They may be extra clingy, have trouble going to sleep, have nightmares, be afraid of noises, and afraid of being left alone. Your job as a parent is to be there for them. It may help to see a counselor trained in childhood trauma who can give tools to help them cope. 

child riding a bike in a street
Image by LeManna by Canva.com

Can a Child Hit By a Car Get Compensation?

For seven years in a row, The Governor’s Highway Safety Association has ranked New Mexico as the deadliest state for pedestrians. Families living in our state should not have to pay for damages caused by a negligent driver. 

When a child is hit by a car while walking home from school or shooting hoops in the street, they are not to blame. In the eyes of the law, kids lack the judgment and understanding to know when to move out of the way of a vehicle, while motorists have a duty of care to exercise caution at all times—especially where children are present. Reduced speed limits and caution signs around schools, parks, and residential streets are there for a reason. In almost all cases, it’s the driver’s fault.

In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for accidents involving a minor does not begin until the child turns 18, so there should not be a rush to file a lawsuit. Once a child has had time to recover both physically and mentally, parents can file a personal injury claim on a child’s behalf against the at-fault driver to seek compensation. Medical treatment, surgery, hospital stays, medication, physical therapy, long-term care, and counseling are all expenses that can be compensated. Working with a New Mexico personal injury attorney who is passionate about children’s needs can help.

Your attorney will gather evidence to compile a claim, including photos, police reports, and medical bills. The evidence will be used in the case to answer questions such as:

  • How hard was the child to see?
  • Did the accident happen in an area where children were assumed present, such as a playground or a school zone?
  • Was the driver distracted, speeding or impaired? (According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol was a factor in nearly 20% of pedestrian traffic fatalities.)

Who Will Handle My Child’s Settlement?

The state of New Mexico takes special care to protect a child’s interests once an insurance settlement is reached or a court issues a verdict in a lawsuit. In most cases, an unbiased attorney, also known as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), is appointed to ensure settlements involving minors are fair and complete, and to oversee the distribution of money. Most insurance companies will not proceed with a settlement agreement without court approval by a GAL.

While parents can receive reimbursement for lost wages and medical bills related to the child’s injuries, any money awarded for the child’s ongoing medical care, pain and suffering will most likely be invested or placed in a trust until the child turns 18. At that point, only the child will have access to those funds. 

In New Mexico, It’s Critical for Parents to Choose an Attorney Who Will Advocate for Their Child

Along with being a licensed New Mexico attorney, I retain my licenses with the New Mexico Counseling and Therapy Board as well as my Pre-K through 12 School Counselor License. I also have a Developmental Specialist II Certificate with the New Mexico Infant Toddler Program. My goal when representing children after a car accident is to help them deal with trauma while ensuring they are awarded financially for their suffering. 

During a free consultation, my team and I will review your case and determine how best to get you and your child the help you need. Contact us today to get started.