Your child’s accident was probably one of the most harrowing experiences of your life. Getting your child proper medical care after being hit by a car as a pedestrian was your first priority. Now you are likely wondering how to pay for all of the damages incurred as a result of the child pedestrian accident. Your child does not have insurance in her own name, so whose insurance is liable — yours or that of the driver?
Below we explain insurance coverage and your legal options following pedestrian accidents involving children in Pennsylvania.
How can I prevent my child from being in a pedestrian accident?
As a parent, you can do many things prevent accidental injury to your child.
- If your child is playing outside, keep them in a fenced in area (preferably a backyard or a playpen), away from the road.
- If your vehicle is equipped with a back up camera, do not rely on this. Always turn and look behind you, as the camera may miss a child sitting or playing behind your vehicle.
- Make your child aware of the dangers of playing near roadways (even in your neighborhood).
How will the injury claim process work for my child?
Even the best parents cannot watch their child every second. If your child was hit by a negligent driver, you may be able to file a claim for injury compensation after going through your own car insurance (personal injury protection).
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
In Pennsylvania, personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers medical bills in the event of an accident, regardless of fault. Even if you are not in a vehicle when you are injured, the coverage follows you as a pedestrian.
Because your child is not a driver, and consequently does not have her own car insurance, your car insurance will extend coverage to your child because that child is a family member in your home.
The Other Driver’s Insurance
If the other driver was negligent, you may be able to file a claim to receive compensation for your child’s damages.
What are Pennsylvania’s tort laws and how does this affect insurance coverage for my child?
Pennsylvania drivers have the unique option of choosing a limited tort policy or a full tort policy, which affects their ability to sue after an accident.
Limited tort insurance allows you and members of your household to seek recovery for all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not for pain and suffering, unless you are able to prove that your injury was “serious” as described in your policy, or falls within another exception.
Full tort insurance is the better option, which we strongly recommend full tort to our family, friends, and clients. Under this type of insurance, you are able to seek recovery for all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses. More importantly, under this insurance, you are also able to seek financial compensation for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages, according to PA 75 § 1705
If your child is a pedestrian who was hit by a motor vehicle, your child automatically qualifies for full tort and you do not have to worry about limited tort technicalities (such as proving serious injury or finding another exception).
What is the statute of limitations on my child’s claim?
In most personal injury cases in Pennsylvania, injured parties have two years to file a claim. However, the statute of limitations is different for children. The statute of limitations tolls (which means that the clock temporarily stops running) for a child until she reaches her 18th birthday.
For example, even if your child is injured when she is six years old, she has until her 20th birthday to file a claim.
As an injured child’s parent, can I file a separate claim for damages?
There can only be one claim for your child’s injury, so you as a parent cannot file a separate claim for this same accident. This means that as parents, you cannot seek separate compensation for your out of pocket expenses, as these expenses are only recoverable through the child’s claim.
In any case, a jury is more likely to award certain types expenses than others. For example, a jury typically will not award compensation for a parent who has to take off work to stay at home with their injured child, but will award compensation if the parents incur additional expenses to hire a babysitter or caretaker as a result of the child’s injury.
Is anything else different with my child’s case?
In every personal injury case, you must prove that the other party was negligent. Negligence is always a question of showing fault, and will require you to present evidence that the driver is responsible for the accident. In the case of a child pedestrian and a vehicle, that is generally easier to prove, as the driver owes the pedestrian a greater duty of care.
Normally, each party receives a proportion of negligence for the accident. This percentage of fault will reduce the total damages that you are able to recover from the driver’s insurance policy. For example, if you were 30 percent at fault for an accident with $100,000 in damages, you would recover $70,000 instead of the full amount.
However, judges often presume children are incapable of negligent behavior so assigning fault will generally be inapplicable to small children. This may change if your child is an older teenager and presumed to be capable of being negligent. It is best to consult a pedestrian accident attorney to assist you in any case, but especially if your child is older.
If your child has been the victim of a car accident caused by a negligent driver, you deserve to receive compensation for her injuries, both physical and emotional. Contact an attorney at Cordisco & Saile LLC for help today: 215-642-2335.