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Personal Injury Lawyers: Understanding Car Accidents in California involving Children

Any car accident has the potential to be traumatizing, but those that involve children can be particularly devastating. Children are more susceptible to serious and long-term injuries. Younger children specifically are not yet fully developed and thus less protected against the impact they sustain in auto accidents. For this reason, it is critical to get fair and just compensation when a car accident involves children in California. Physical injuries that may take years to heal and mental health issues that may take even longer to solve deserve to be properly considered in any kind of settlement or jury verdict.

At Dordick Law Corporation, our auto Personal Injury Lawyers in Southern California understand how important it is for families to be compensated in order to heal properly. Contact our office today at (310) 551-0949 or fill out our form to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.

Are Car Accident Claims in California Different for Children?

When it comes to making a personal injury claim for a child involved in a car accident, the child usually has the same right to compensation as an adult. They can seek damages for medical expenses, loss of ability to earn an income, and pain and suffering. In certain situations, they can also seek punitive damages. 

However, there are some key differences between car accident claims for adults and those for children.

Firstly, minors cannot file their own personal injury claim. Instead, their parents or guardian must do so on their behalf. Alternatively, a child can wait until they reach the age of majority (usually 18 years of age) to file their own claim. 

There are also different procedural requirements for personal injury claims involving children. For example, in many jurisdictions, a judge must review and approve the settlement agreement. 

What are the key child passenger safety laws in California? 

In California, several laws are designed to protect child passengers: 

  1. Age and Height Requirements: Children under 8 years old or under 4 feet 9 inches tall must use a federally approved child restraint system in the back seat. 

  1. Rear-Facing Car Seats: Children under 2 years old must ride in a rear-facing car seat unless they weigh over 40 pounds or are over 40 inches tall. 

  1. Proper Use of Seat Belts: Children aged 8-16 or those at least 4 feet 9 inches tall must use a seat belt. 

  1. Front Seat Restrictions: Children in rear-facing car seats cannot ride in the front seat if there is an active passenger airbag. 

Injuries to Children from Car Accidents in California

The types of injuries commonly sustained by children in car accidents also differ from adults, which can impact the level of compensation they receive. As children's bodies are still developing, they are more prone to certain types of injuries. 

Common injuries in car accident cases involving children include those to the head or brain, spinal cord, and thoracic areas, as well as fractures and psychological trauma. 

Head or Brain Injuries

Head or brain injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained by children in car accidents, especially in children under one. Injuries of this nature can have serious, long-lasting impacts on a child's cognitive development and their ability to participate in school and other activities. 


Spinal Cord Injuries

Especially in babies and toddlers, the neck area is highly flexible. This makes the latter age group more susceptible to spinal cord injuries as a result of a car accident. 

How prevalent are spinal cord injuries among children in California? 

California has one of the highest rates of spinal cord injuries, with over 2,500 new cases reported annually. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause, making child passenger safety laws even more critical. 

Thoracic Injuries

In motor vehicle accidents, children under the age of one year have a higher chance of sustaining significant injuries to their heart and lungs as a result of a blow to the chest. Fractured ribs are another common injury. 


Given children's bones are still developing, they're more prone to fractures than adults. Depending on the location of the fracture, like a growth plate, there can be future issues in terms of growth and therapy.

Psychological Trauma

The trauma of a car accident can lead to ongoing psychological conditions in children, such as anxiety. These can require ongoing counseling or other treatment. 

Minors and the Statute of Limitations in California?

The statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim for a child involved in a car accident varies between states.

If a parent files a claim on behalf of their child, the state's standard limitation period for personal injury claims usually applies, starting from the date of the accident. 

However, when a minor wishes to file their own claim, many states delay the start of the statute of limitations until the child reaches the age of majority (often 18 years of age). 

So, if a child is injured in a car accident when they're 16 in a state with a two-year statute of limitations, the child has until age 20 to file their own personal injury claim. If the parents were to file the claim, they have two years from the date of the accident to do so. 

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Southern California Today

Auto accidents involving children should be addressed with special consideration. Their injuries may require more medical attention. At Dordick Law Corporation, our personal injury attorneys will closely review and investigate the circumstances around your car accident to help ensure you get fair and just compensation. Contact us either via our online form or by calling us today at (310) 551-0949 to schedule a free consultation.

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