What Types of Long-Term Effects Are Possible For a Child Who is Involved in a Car Accident?

Children often suffer long-term car accident injuries.Anyone who has lived through a car accident knows that the experience will stay with you forever. This is especially true for those who experience a collision at a young age when the risk of long-term physical and psychological injury is especially high. Though every individual’s story is unique, our experience helping clients has revealed some commonalities in the types of long-term injuries experienced by children after a car accident.

Physical Injuries

Even minor collisions can produce a wide range of injuries for children, from simple cuts and bruises to permanent impairments which require life-long accommodation and medical support. For this reason, it is essential that any child who is involved in a car accident is seen by a medical professional, even if there are no immediate symptoms of injury.

Among the most tragic injuries which children experience after a car crash are:

  • Brain injuries. Because their brains are still developing, it is difficult to predict how a traumatic brain injury (TBI) might affect a child over the course of their entire life. However, an analysis of medical data reveals that children who suffer even mild TBIs may have long-term impairments to their intellectual growth and physical abilities. 
  • Neck and spine injuries. Children are more susceptible to “cervical acceleration-deceleration injuries”—more commonly known as whiplash—which can result in life-long neck and back pain, permanent cognitive impairments, and even paralysis. Children under the age of eight are far more likely than older children or adults to experience a spinal injury that is undetectable by X-ray or CT scan, putting them at even greater risk for life-long impairments following a collision.
  • Broken bones or organ damage. Because their bodies are smaller and lighter, children are more likely to be violently thrown around the passenger compartment during an accident. This increases the risk of broken bones or damage to internal organs following an accident, particularly since their bones are not as dense or strong as adults. Though they frequently heal with routine medical attention, these injuries can result in long-term pain.
  • Scarring. Contact with debris like broken glass or jagged metal during the collision can create serious wounds which may leave a scar. Friction injuries—such as when the skin comes in contact with the pavement—and burn injuries resulting from a car accident can damage the skin permanently, leaving a child with limited mobility and disfiguring scars.

Psychological Injuries

Children who experience a car accident are vulnerable to a number of mental issues. Certainly, those patients left with life-long cognitive or physical impairments are at a greater risk of experiencing depression in response to their changed circumstances. TBI can also result in permanent alterations to personality and emotional well-being due to physical injury to the brain, which highlights the way physical injury and mental injury resulting from an accident are interconnected.

Some children show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (also known as PTSD) following a collision. This can result in sleep disorders as well as crippling anxiety. When the accident in question resulted in the death of another individual, children are particularly vulnerable to the experience of survivor’s guilt. The child, consciously or subconsciously, may feel remorse or shame for having lived through an accident when others did not. This experience can be especially harsh when the individual who died was a parent, sibling, or someone close to the child.

The Road to Recovery

It is essential that a parent whose child is injured following a car crash contact a top-rated, trial-tested attorney with experience fighting for injured children. In Washington State, a child under the age of 18 cannot bring a lawsuit on their own behalf, so it is up to you as the legal guardian to retain an attorney willing to stand alongside your family and demand the full and fair compensation that will secure the support your child needs now and in the future.

Contact our offices today to schedule your free consultation. When you speak with us, make sure to request your copy of our free book Car Accident Secrets Unlocked to learn more about how to protect and provide for your family following an automotive accident.