Physical injuries are often not the only thing that people need to worry about following a car accident. Some of the worse consequences of a car accident can be the mental stress it puts on everyone involved. PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a common mental health illness that results from car accidents.
Children are just as likely to suffer PTSD as adults following a car accident. Symptoms are different for everyone, but they could include jitteriness or anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and negative thinking.
PTSD can be difficult to diagnose in children. Especially young children who may not be able to talk about their feelings, and even older children can find it hard to explain what they are experiencing. Without the right help, PTSD could have negative implications for the rest of your child’s life.
It is essential to get mental health support for a child suffering from psychological distress following a traumatic event such as a car accident. Compensation following an accident that wasn’t your fault can help you to get the help you need. That’s where we come in. With over 75 years of combined experience and hundreds of positive client reviews, we are ready to take on even the most challenging cases.
Contact us now at (941) 444-4444.
What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is caused by a traumatic event. Symptoms can vary widely, but sufferers often relive the traumatic event through flashbacks and nightmares, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, guilt, and isolation.
These symptoms can be severe and often have a significant impact on the person’s day-to-day life.
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Even Minor Crashes Create Emotional Stress
In the United States, it is estimated that around 176,000 children under 15 are involved in car accidents that lead to injuries each year. However, physical injury is not the only concern for children and their families following car accidents. Mental health issues are common and are sometimes the most difficult thing to deal with.
A motor vehicle crash can be especially traumatic for children, even if the collision was minor. Children involved in accidents can develop symptoms of anxiety and depression, even if months have passed since the accident occurred. Even minor car accidents can cause loud noises and a strong jolt, which can be very frightening for children.
In more serious accidents, being injured or witnessing other people suffering injuries can often cause long-term emotional and developmental effects on children.
How to Recognize Child PTSD Symptoms
A pediatric doctor is the most qualified to diagnose PTSD in children and will be able to recommend what kind of support the child needs.
However, it is important that parents are aware of common symptoms so that they know when to seek help for their child. The sooner a child receives the support they need, the better. You can find some great resources on The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Typical symptoms of PTSD include:
- Re-experiencing – Reliving what happened.
- Hyper-arousal – Feeling anxious or jumpy.
- Avoidance – Staying away from reminders.
- Other concerns – Changes in behavior.
However, symptoms tend to vary with age.
Ages 5 and Under
At this young age, children will find it difficult to talk about their feelings. Therefore, parents or guardians should watch out for children returning to earlier behaviors such as bedwetting, thumb sucking, excessive clinginess, separation anxiety, or fear of the dark.
While children will have better communication skills at this age, they may still find it difficult to recognize and communicate emotions. Therefore, guardians should watch out for any changes in behavior, as well as withdrawal, sleep problems, poor concentration, disruptive behaviors, nightmares, and stomach aches or headaches.
People at any age can find it difficult to talk about how they are feeling, and PTSD can come on suddenly and be very confusing for children. Guardians should look for changes in behaviors well as any risk-taking behavior, problems at school such as performance or non-attendance, sleep problems and nightmares, problems with peers, persistent avoidance around talking about the accident, depression or suicidal thoughts, and psychosomatic complaints, including stomachaches and headaches.
Assess the Emotional Needs of Your Child
Figuring out the best way to help your child can be challenging. It is important to be wary of your own emotions and try and separate that from your child’s experience and needs. Helping your child to express themselves, and getting professional help, are the most important things you can do.
Afertheinjury.com has some great resources for people worried about a child following a traumatic event, answering commonly asked questions and offering some practical advice on how to support your child.
How to Support Your Child After a Traumatic Event
Practical advice for helping your child cope with the stress of the accident can be found here. It includes:
- Let your child know they are safe.
- Go back to normal routines.
- Increase time with family and friends.
- Allow children to talk about their feelings if they want to.
- Take time to deal with your own feelings.
- Keep in mind people in the same family can react in different ways.
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How Can You Reduce the Risk of Serious Injury for Your Child?
Motor vehicle crashes in Florida are all too common, and it doesn’t matter how well you drive. You can’t control the reckless behaviors of other drivers on the road. Therefore, it is essential that you take appropriate action to protect yourself and your children.
Use Age-Appropriate Car Seats
Car seats help minimize the risk of severe injuries for children. This is perhaps the most important action you can take to protect your child. Properly installed and applied car seats reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers. Booster seats also reduce the risk of injury by 45%.
Infants and toddlers should use rear-facing car seats until the age of one and weigh at least 20-22 pounds. For children over 40 pounds, a booster seat is recommended.
Most parents and guardians believe that they are doing everything they need to to keep their children safe. However, in one 2016 study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, it was found that 95% of car seats for newborns were being used improperly.
Your car seat manual should tell you how to install your car seat correctly. Safe Kids Worldwide also offers a parent checklist you can use to make sure your child is properly secured in their car seat here.
You can also learn how to install a car seat and have yours checked for free in places like fire stations, police stations, and other events in your area here.
When purchasing a car seat, make sure you know its history. If it has been in an accident or has any damage, it needs to be replaced. You should also replace your own car seat following an accident.
Wear Seat Belts
It is also essential to make sure that children are buckled in properly. You should also set a good example by always wearing your seat belt.
Sit Your Child in the Safest Place
The safest place for your child is the back seat. Children should not be riding in the front seat until they are 12 or older.
What to Do If Your Child Has Been Involved in a Traumatic Event?
If your child has been involved in a car accident, then you should seek immediate medical attention. If the car accident is serious, then emergency responders will take those involved straight to the nearest hospital to be looked over by a medical professional.
However, if the injuries to the child are not obvious, then the parent or guardian should take the child to the emergency room. Once discharged, they should then follow the instructions of medical professionals.
However, it is important to continue to keep a close eye on your child, as some symptoms may not be obvious right away, especially emotional effects. You should keep an eye on your child’s symptoms, complaints, and behavior.
It is also a good idea to make a follow-up appointment with your child’s pediatrician – the doctor who knows your child the best.
Keep an eye out for any symptoms of PTSD, as listed above. If you have any concerns, then seek medical help as soon as possible.
Do Auto Insurance Policies Provide Medical Coverage for Injuries to Children?
Under Florida Statute 627.736, anyone driving in Florida is required to carry PIP, which stands for personal injury protection. PIP is part of your insurance and covers you for injuries following a road traffic accident. PIP will pay towards your medical bills even if you are at fault for the accident.
Florida law requires motorists to have at least $10,000 coverage under PIP.
Florida as a No-Fault State
As per Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that regardless of who was at fault ore the accident, you should first seek to recover your losses from your own insurance policy. However, if your damages exceed your insurance limits, then you can claim compensation from the at-fault driver.
What Does PIP Insurance Pay?
PIP insurance covers damages that include medical bills and lost wages when you are unable to work after an accident. If you need replacement services, then you can use these funds to hire someone to do chores, provide child care, or drive.
This coverage pays 80% of medical bills incurred due to the crash up to the policy limit. It pays 60% of lost wages if the injured individual can’t work. If a person needs replacement services, PIP coverage pays 100% for these losses.
Finally, if a death occurs, PIP coverage offers compensation of up to $5,000.
Who Does PIP Insurance Pay?
Personal injury protection insurance also covers your children as well as yourself. The insurance covers your children in your vehicle and also when they ride school busses. If there are individuals in your vehicle at the time of the crash who don’t own a vehicle and so don’t have their own PIP coverage, they might be able to recover compensation under your policy.
When Does PIP Insurance Pay?
PIP pays medical expenses and lost wages caused by a car accident. You could be a driver, pedestrian, or passenger, and you can still seek damages from your own PIP insurance if you have it.
Are Children Covered by PIP?
PIP covers both you and your children. It also covers your children when they ride the school bus. If you don’t drive and your children are hurt in an accident, you may be able to claim from the driver’s PIP insurance.
Seeking Compensation for Child PTSD After an Accident
If your child was in a car accident, then they could be entitled to compensation for their suffering. If damages exceeded PIP coverage, then they could be awarded compensation from the at-fault party.
It is a good idea to speak to a personal injury attorney about the specific details of your case before you talk to your insurance company. They can advise you on your next steps and make sure you do not say anything that could harm your case. Most insurance policies require you to inform them of an accident within 24-hours, so you should speak to an attorney quickly after an accident. That’s one of the reasons that at The Law Place, we keep our phone lines open 24/7. We want to be there for you when you need it most.
Damages you may be able to recover after an auto accident include:
- Medical costs.
- Lost wages.
- Property damage.
- Pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering damages are designed to compensate for emotional distress. PTSD falls into this category. Compensation could help you to seek the best after-care for your child and minimize the effects that the trauma of a car accident has on their life.
Talk to a Florida Car Accident Lawyer for Free Today
PTSD is common in children who have experienced the trauma of a car accident. If you are concerned about a child, it is essential that you seek help from a medical professional as quickly as possible. If you are turned away by a medical professional, you should also return to them if your child’s symptoms change or worsen at any point.
At The Law Place, we are committed to helping families seek compensation. We understand how stressful the aftermath of a car accident can be, and we want to take away the stress involved in a legal battle. We will handle the legal bit for you so that you can focus on the recovery of yourself and your family.
We also understand how important compensation can be for families. If you have been in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, then you should not be left with the financial burdens or the stresses that bring.
Contact us now for a free, no-obligation consultation at (941) 444-4444.