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Precautions to take when your young child is in a car crash

Most parents exercise an added level of caution when they're driving with their children in the car. Unfortunately, they're still at the mercy of other drivers who may not be so cautious.

Car crashes can be particularly dangerous for children. Even if they're strapped into a properly functioning car seat, that doesn't guarantee that they won't suffer injuries -- potentially very serious ones.

Another problem is that babies and very young children aren't able to communicate their symptoms to parents and first responders as clearly as older children can -- and maybe not at all beyond crying. Therefore, it's wise for parents to make sure that they're seen by a doctor after an accident even if they appear to be unharmed. Experts advise bringing your child to a doctor for a full medical evaluation as soon as possible after a crash.

Even if you or an ambulance takes your child to an emergency room for evaluation or treatment after a crash, it's still best to make an appointment with your pediatrician for a follow-up exam. Ask the doctor who saw your child in the ER to send the records to your pediatrician prior to that exam. This will help them better determine how well your child is healing, whether any new symptoms have developed and what kinds of things to keep an eye on in future check-ups.

Even if the ER doctors and your pediatrician determine that your child suffered no serious injuries, you should still keep an eye out for things like problems sleeping, vomiting, lethargy and increased crying. These might be signs that your child is still traumatized by the crash. However, these might also be symptoms of injuries that weren't immediately obvious after the crash.

If your infant or young child was in the car when you were involved in a crash, it may be wise not to settle any claim against the at-fault driver or their insurer until you know what kind of short-term or long-term medical care and other treatment may be necessary. An experienced attorney can advise you of the best way to proceed.

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