Who Is Responsible for Medical Bills if Your Child Is Hit By a Car?

Friday, January 17, 2020

Few things can kick you into overdrive like your child being injured.

Children can sustain injuries in several different ways, but being hit by a car as a pedestrian is certainly one of the worst. This can often come with lifelong complications that impair their ability to walk, function or think.

Nobody wants to imagine their child being the victim of a pedestrian-car accident, but it can happen. Teaching children how to safely cross the street is a great way to mitigate this, but it won’t always protect them against a poor driver’s mistakes.

Should your child ever get hit by a car, you’ll want to know who’s responsible for the medical bills. This isn’t as straightforward as you might think, so we’ll explain how this is determined below.
The Circumstances of the Accident Are Crucial

As with any type of accident and injury, the surrounding circumstances will determine the outcome of a case.

Drivers are required to be attentive to the road at all times and this involves checking for any potential hazards. This includes people walking across the road when they aren’t meant to.

This is particularly relevant for children because they may not understand when it’s okay to cross the street. Some will jaywalk, which means walking when it isn’t their turn to.

If a child is hit by a car while jaywalking, it becomes tougher to win a settlement against that driver. This is because your child may share some fault in the resulting accident due to not properly following the law. 

Understand the Fault Laws of Your State

The exact fault laws of your state are critical for determining who is responsible for the accident. More specifically, it factors in who acted negligently to cause it. States can fall into one of these three categories for negligence:
Pure Contributory Negligence - States that follow these rules (only Virginia, Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Washington D.C.) indicate that if a pedestrian is found to have any blame in causing the accident, then they cannot receive any compensation for it. This is very extreme and makes it almost impossible for anyone to win a case in these states.
Pure Comparative Negligence - States using pure comparative negligence (Washington, South Dakota, Rhode Island, New Mexico, New York, California, Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Mississippi) are the opposite of those following pure contributory negligence.

This means that if a driver is found to share any of the blame in causing an accident, then a pedestrian is entitled to receive at least some amount of reparations for it. Even if they are found to be more responsible for the accident, a pedestrian is still able to make a case. 

Modified Comparative Negligence - The majority of states use modified comparative negligence. This is a mixture of the two other styles and is much more fair. With states that use this interpretation of the law, the pedestrian must only be less than 50% responsible for the accident to receive damages.

Those three categories determine who is negligent and how a pedestrian can receive compensation for their injuries. 

How Does This Determine Damages Eligibility?

Now that you understand how negligence works, you can figure out if the driver is responsible for the cost of your child’s injuries.

First, you’ll need to determine if you live in a state that uses pure contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, or modified comparative negligence. Once you know your state’s laws, then it’s important to learn if your child had any responsibility in causing the crash.

Usually, your child will only be responsible if they choose to jaywalk or fail to follow traffic laws. Running out into the street to chase a ball or dog can cause blame to be assigned to them because it will place an unfair burden on the driver to stop with minimal or no time to react.

If you live in a state with pure contributory negligence and your child is responsible in any way, then you won’t have the ability to receive any reparations. However, it’s more likely that you don’t live in one of those five locations.

From here, you should determine how responsible your child was for the accident. If they’re less than 50% responsible, then there’s a good chance of being compensated. Alternatively, you can still receive money with higher blame placed on your child if you live in a pure comparative negligence state.

One last thing to keep in mind is if your child is not to blame, which is likely if you teach them good crossing safety. If this is true, then you’ll certainly be eligible for financial compensation for your child’s injuries.

Closing Thoughts

You never want to think about your child getting injured, especially by car. But if it does happen, then you want to be prepared and understand how to be fairly compensated for their wounds.

The circumstances involving your child’s injuries will determine if you’re eligible to make a case against the driver. This comes down to figuring out who was negligent and what caused the crash.

Most states will permit you to receive compensation as long as your child is less than 50% responsible for causing the accident. However, there are a few that will let you pursue reparations above this and others that forbid compensation if your child holds any of the blame.

It can be difficult to navigate through negligence laws, so it’s easier to ask an attorney for help. They can determine if you have a good case based on your state’s laws. If you have a good chance of winning, then this will go a long way toward covering your child’s medical bills and helping you move forward with some peace of mind.

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