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What if a Child is Serious Injured by an Impaired Driver Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol?

By David Wolf, Attorney

medical_2008015232-1113int.epsIn Georgia and other States, children are the unfortunate victims of pedestrian accidents involving an impaired driver.  Whether the driver is impaired by alcohol, drug use, or a combination of the two, children especially child pedestrians are put at risk for serious personal injuries and harm.  When there is a pedestrian personal injury matter involving an impaired driver, there can be one or more legal matters that result and proceed:  1. Administrative; 2. Criminal; and 3 Civil.
An Administrative case can be pursued against a person’s current driving privileges and even life time driving privileges.  A Criminal case can be pursued in the form of a DUI case and / or manslaughter type of case.  Finally, a Civil case can be pursued for the personal injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering, and mental anguish.  As for the Civil case, it should be noted that a child’s legal right to compensation is different than the actual collection of compensation.  A person or business entity may be liable and responsible for the damages sustained by the child.  Let’s say a child suffers horrific injuries that are worth $5,000,000.  Under the law, a child is entitled to compensation of $5,000,000; however, the ultimate resolution of the case from a practical standpoint may be drastically less than the “value” of the case.  Let’s assume that  the at fault driver and at fault owner of the vehicle only have $25,000 in insurance coverage and no other assets.  Under this scenario, the case may end up resolving for the $25,000.  Is this a fair resolution for serious and life altering injuries sustained by a minor child?  The answer is a resounding “No”.  However, as the saying goes, life is not fair.  This is not legal advice per se; however, legal matters are not directed or guided by the law alone.  There must be a sense of practicality injected into every case or claim.  As such, an evaluation of the entire case is in order when a child is injured.  That includes the cause of the injury, preventability of the injury, foreseeability of the injury, the actions or inactions of the wrongdoer, the medical bills, the injuries sustained, the severity of the injuries, and, yes, the available insurance coverage and / or assets of the potential defendants.
In Atlanta, Georgia, it was reported that that an allegedly impaired driver crashed into three children who were standing on the sidewalk.  The incident took place near Joseph E. Boone Boulevard. The three children were transported by fire rescue / ambulance to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  The driver of the vehicle was arrested on DUI and other criminal charges.  The news report is quite sad and tragic.  One would think that a small group of children would be safe on a local sidewalk in the early evening.  However, in a moment, everything for these children and their respective families changed.
The book titled – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident – has chapters on Pedestrian Injuries, Bicycle Injuries, Automobile Accidents, and other topics.  In the aftermath of an automobile / pedestrian incident with personal injuries, there are a number of challenges for the child, parents, and family.  Certainly, the child’s medical care and health are paramount to all other concerns.  It is important for the child to get the best medical care possible and to get the support of the family and community.  Beyond that, it is important to get an advocate on the case in the form of a Child Injury Lawyer to represent and advocate for the legal rights of the child and the parents as well.  You can get a free copy of the book at When the Wheels Stop Spinning.