Children are some of the most vulnerable members of society. When a child makes a bad decision, and their actions result in a car accident that injures someone else, the consequences can be crushing. It’s also devastating when someone else’s negligent behavior causes an accident that injures a child. While it won’t fix everything, if you were in a car accident involving a minor, there is a path to compensation for your injuries. Let’s explore some options in both situations.
Car Accident Involving Minor at Fault
The age of majority in Georgia is 18, so by definition, the state considers a child a minor if they are 17 years of age or younger. Like many states, Georgia has passed several parental responsibility laws. For instance, Georgia Code section 51-2-2 covers general liability for a child’s actions, and Georgia Code section 51-2-3 covers liability for a child’s malicious acts. These laws make parents or guardians of a minor liable for a tort committed by the minor.
A car accident resulting in injury usually qualifies as a tort. However, Georgia law requires a car accident victim to prove four additional things to collect damages from a minor child’s parents:
- The parents own or have an interest in or control over the automobile,
- The parents made the car available for family use,
- The minor driver is a member of the parents’ immediate household, and
- The minor drove the vehicle with the permission or acquiescence of the parents.
Under common law, in some cases, you must also be able to prove the parents knew the minor was an irresponsible driver.
What to Do After an Accident Caused by a Minor
If you were in an accident caused by a minor, you should take the following actions:
- Be an adult and keep your cool. Teens don’t always know where the insurance paperwork is or what they’re supposed to do after pulling over. If they seem flustered or powerless to provide documentation, wait for the police and let officers act as a go-between.
- Look for and record signs of intoxication. If teens are drunk or under the influence of drugs, they may stagger or slur words. They may also try to dispose of alcohol bottles or drug containers.
- Tell officers about reckless behaviors you observed. Reckless behaviors might include yelling out windows, using a cell phone or iPad while driving, speeding, or tailgating. Georgia is a fault-based insurance state, so reporting irresponsible behaviors can be vital for your case.
- File an insurance claim. Once an investigation determines fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company usually compensates the damaged party for expenses incurred due to the accident. If you are less than 50% responsible for the accident, you will hopefully receive a satisfactory insurance settlement and may not need to file a lawsuit.
- If you suffer even minor injuries, visit a medical professional. If you think you are injured, see a medical professional as soon as possible. Not all serious injuries are readily apparent, and a documented visit to a medical professional will help bolster your injury claim should you decide to file one.
It’s wise to consult an experienced car accident attorney after an accident caused by a minor. Procedures involving teen car accidents are less straightforward, and a skilled attorney will know what to look for and how to file your claim. Having an experienced attorney on your side will also help you get the best possible settlement.
What to Do Following a Car Accident as a Minor
Despite safety laws, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for children. According to the CDC, more than 91,000 children aged 12 and under were injured, and 608 died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019.
If someone else’s negligence caused a car accident that hurt your child, your child has the same legal rights to compensation as an adult. However, a parent or guardian must file on their behalf. Generally, Georgia has a two-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims. Since this law doesn’t apply to minors, a minor may also wait until they turn 18 and file a claim themself.
If a car accident injured your minor child, you should also take the following steps:
- If your child suffered an injury, visit a medical professional. Even if your child’s injury is minor, see a medical professional as soon as possible. This will ensure your child gets the care they need and may help support your child’s injury claim if you or they file one.
- Collect evidence proving the other party’s fault. Gather all documentation supporting liability and your damages. This is especially important if there is no police report in a car accident with a minor. Documentation may include witness testimony, photos, and doctor bills.
- Gather and submit documentation showing the total cost of the accident. Even if you prove liability, you must also prove damages, including all economic and noneconomic losses. Documents showing medical treatments and injuries, bills, photos, expert opinions, and video evidence can demonstrate how the injury has impacted the child’s life.
- File a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Collect all supporting evidence, and then submit it to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If your minor child was injured in a car accident, you want the best chance of collecting compensation for their medical bills and potential lifestyle changes. A knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you file your claim, work with insurance companies, and fight for your child’s rights in court if your case doesn’t settle.
Call MG Law Now to Speak with an Attorney
At MG Law, our skilled Georgia car crash attorneys know how stressful accidents involving minors are for you and your family. Our team of experienced advocates offers guidance and assistance when you need it most. We focus solely on personal injury cases, so we know what it takes to deal with difficult insurance companies, and we can help you fight for the compensation you or your child deserves. If you or a loved one was in a car accident involving a minor, contact us by phone or online today to set up your free consultation.