Children and Car Accidents: Part 1

Car Accidents Affect All Areas of Your Life

After 35 years of helping Maine families deal with the legal, emotional and physical toll of car accidents, the personal injury attorneys of Hardy, Wolf and Downing understand the unexpected, traumatic nature of automobile accidents. Car accidents are often all-encompassing, distressing events which involve many areas of your life, including your physical well-being, mental health, finances, career, even how well you relate to your family and friends. Automobile accidents often leave their victims feeling drained, depressed and “not themselves” for months, if not years.

As experienced personal injury attorneys and parents, we also understand that any time a child is involved in a car accident, absolutely everything changes. When a child is injured, a parent’s first priority is always helping their child heal and grow physically strong again. But oftentimes, parents aren’t sure if their child’s injuries are purely physical.  Parents may find themselves wondering if their child’s emotional well-being has also been affected by the events surrounding an automobile accident, but may have no idea where or how to find answers to their questions and concerns.

The legal team at Hardy, Wolf and Downing understands that everything we do as parents is geared towards the health, safety and well-being of our children and families. It’s normal to be worried about your child following an automobile accident, and to wonder if they might have been affected psychologically by the events surrounding an automobile accident, even if others dismiss your concerns as overblown or even “crazy”.  Even if your child wasn’t actually injured in the accident, or if the accident wasn’t deemed  “traumatic” by others, your child may still experience emotional trauma following an automobile accident.

Car Accidents and Children: Some Common Parental Concerns

Sometimes, parents feel anxious following a car accident and need a little reassurance themselves that their children aren’t going to experience emotional trauma because they were involved in a car accident, and that’s perfectly OK! Once parents feel reassured that their child is safe, they may find themselves wondering, “Is my little one going to be OK after the accident? Will they have nightmares or any problems concentrating in school? What should I do if they say they’re afraid to ride in the car after the accident, or that they don’t want to drive past the place where the accident happened?”

Finding answers to these common questions will help these parents (and their children) move on emotionally after an accident, and gain confidence and peace of mind. All these things are important and healthy aspects of emotional healing for families, and all families will move on after an accident in different ways. Some will want to talk about the accident while others won’t. But all families need time and support in order to heal emotionally after any kind of stressful event. Sometimes,  the simple act of spending a little extra time talking together as a family your car accident will be all a family needs to move on. Other families might need the help of a professional counselor.  This depends on your unique situation, personality, family and the events surrounding your accident. There are no “shoulds” or “musts” when it comes to trauma and emotional healing after an automobile accident.

When parents have more complex concerns about their children’s emotional well-being after an automobile accident, their child usually has shown some unusual behaviors. These parents aren’t simply “crazy”! Sometimes, parents become worried when a child says or does something that raises behavioral red flags. For example, children may mistakenly believe something they said or did cause a car accident, and their parents inevitably find themselves asking,  “My child said the accident was somehow her fault yesterday, and I don’t know what to tell her to help her feel better. What can I say her to make her understand that isn’t true? Is there anything I can say to encourage my child to talk about her feelings after our car accident, or will encourage him to talk about the accident just make things worse? I just don’t know what to do.”  In these cases, parents need competent advice and help, and so do their children.

Parents Should Ask Questions and Be Aware Following A Car Accident!

Our personal injury attorneys believe it’s normal for parents to be concerned about how a car accident might have affected their child’s mental, physical and emotional well-being.  As both car accident attorneys and parents, we want you to know that we’re happy that you’re asking questions about your child’s emotional well being. That means you care about your child, not that you are “overly concerned”, or that you should be labeled as an anxious “helicopter” parent!

Part of being a good parent involves asking questions on your child’s behalf.  Sometimes, those questions will take you in difficult directions and require you to investigate complex issues, even in the face of other’s doubts. You should never allow others opinions to stop you from doing your homework and figuring out what’s best for your child. After all, YOU are the parent, you know your child better than anyone, and when all is said and done, you have your child’s best interests at heart.

What Kind Of Lawyer Does My Family Need After A Car Accident?

As both experienced personal injury attorneys and parents, the legal team at Hardy, Wolf and Downing have helped thousands of Maine families face the unique and sometimes all-consuming worries, pressures and concerns families face when a child has been involved in an automobile accident.  Because we are experienced personal injury attorneys, we are uniquely able to help and support families in these highly stressful situations. We are not general practice lawyers. We focus only on personal injury law.

Unlike general practice lawyers or even personal injury lawyers with less expertise than our firm, our experienced car accident attorneys focus only on personal injury law and have won thousands of cases and millions of dollars for families by focusing only on personal injury law for more three decades.  Because we are focused legal experts in personal injury and have dealt with thousands of car accidents cases, car accident experts, insurance companies and other lawyers, we know exactly how to win cases and get our clients the fair and just results they deserve.

The car accident attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing want families to thrive in absolutely every aspect of their lives. The aftermath of a car accident is certainly no exception. Parents have every right to ask questions and find answers after an automobile accident, and your concerns about your child’s physical and emotional should never be dismissed or downplayed (especially by an insurance agent or claims adjustor).

The experienced personal injury attorneys team at Hardy, Wolf and Downing are here to help your family get answers to your questions about your child’s mental and physical health after a car accident. Our car accident attorneys can help your family, especially if you are getting the run around by your insurance company or claims adjustor.  

At Hardy, Wolf and Downing,  we encourage parents to watch their children for signs of trauma after an automobile accident, not because we expect a child to experience problems after an automobile accident, but because we want parents to be aware that they might.  

Know When It’s Time To Seek Professional Help

As Miguel de Cervantes so wisely observed, “Forewarned, forearmed: to be prepared is half the victory.” Understanding signs of distress and emotional trauma your child may exhibit following a car accident can help you face the aftermath of a car accident with a greater degree of certainty and awareness. Knowing the signs of emotional trauma will also help you ask the right questions, and know when it’s time to step in and seek professional help.

Three Important Things For Parents To Remember If Their Child Has Been In A Car Accident

In order to help a child who has been involved in a car accident, it can be helpful for parents to keep the following three tips in mind as they monitor their child for possible signs of emotional trauma:

  1. There are many positive short and long-term strategies to help children cope with their emotions following a traumatic event such as an automobile accident, and their emotions should never be dismissed or made fun of.  Developing coping skills after a trauma is part will help your child become emotionally resilient, and this resilience will help protect them psychologically well into adulthood.
  2. No two children are alike when it comes to physical and emotional trauma. Therefore, their recovery is individual and should be treated as such.
  3. Above all,  adults must remember that children process and handle information, especially information related to traumatic events very differently than adults. What makes sense to an adult in the aftermath of an automobile accident may make little or no sense to a child because an adult’s brain processes, understands and stores information differently than a child’s brain.

When parents keep these three pieces of information about their children after an automobile accident, it can help the entire family deal more effectively with the possibility of emotional trauma.  In order to be the effective advocates for your children, parents must have a solid emotional framework themselves, along with a sense of what is normal for their children.  Parents can’t allow their vision to be clouded by what others believe is “acceptable”, or let misinformation, or the opinions of untrained or unlicensed professionals, family members or other well-meaning nay-sayers to affect their decision making when it comes to their children. If you think your child needs extra help after an automobile accident, talk to your pediatrician or other trusted provider.  Conversely, parents shouldn’t “see” fears or anxieties in their children where there are none.

Avoid All-Or-Nothing Thinking and False Assumptions Following A Car Accident

Some parents, health care providers and other well-meaning adults fall into the trap of All-Or-Nothing thinking when it comes to children and trauma, especially if a car accident wasn’t traumatic in THEIR eyes. Adults may say or think, “My child is acting normally, so they must be just fine. They’re acting as if nothing happened so they must not even be upset!” This is NOT necessarily true!

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some parents throw their hands up and give up even trying to help their child because they believe all hope is lost. If a child has behavioral problems after a traumatic event or has witnessed a serious accident, all hope is not lost! Never say or think things like,  “My child is scarred for life because of this accident and there’s absolutely nothing I can say or do that will change that.”

Both ends of this spectrum represent flawed thinking that won’t help your children. If a child is anxious, they need to approach their fears rationally. With help, children can develop long-lasting emotional stability and resilience after a trauma,  but they need sensible adults to help support their growth in that direction!

The car accident attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing hope that by opening a discussion of children and car accidents we will be able to answer some of your questions. We also hope we have encouraged you to keep asking those questions about your child. As parents, you are your child’s best guides and advocates.

If you or anyone in your family is dealing with emotional difficulties in the aftermath of a car accident, it’s always wise to consult with a qualified mental health professional or your pediatrician. The personal injury attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing are also here to answer questions regarding your car accident and options you may have regarding settlements and insurance claims. We can help you understand why your insurance company may be trying to deny or minimize your claims following your automobile accident. Best of all, we can help your family get the settlement you deserve.

The Maine car accident attorneys at Hardy, Wolf and Downing provide our blog as a service to our clients.  They are meant to be purely informational. If you or a loved one has been in an accident or has been involved in a crash and would like a free consultation with a personal injury attorney, please call our firm today at 1-800-INJURED to start understanding your legal rights.