Car accidents are scary under any circumstances, but they're especially horrifying when your baby is in the car.
If you've recently been in an accident while your infant was with you, here's what you need to keep in mind:
1. Assume that your baby needs medical treatment.
Even if your baby looks fine, there could be hidden problems -- like a fractured collar bone from the seat restraint or a hidden spinal injury. It's better to have your infant examined at a hospital than take chances.
As hard as it may be, don't rush to comfort your baby by lifting them out of the car seat. Call an ambulance and let the professionals decide how to transport your baby to the hospital. That's the best way to prevent spinal damage.
2. Stay vigilant even if your baby checks out okay.
Even if your baby gets a clean bill of health at the hospital, stay watchful any signs of hidden trauma, including:
- Unusual fussiness or crying
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Unusual difficulty sleeping
- Vomiting or bowel disturbances
Some injuries can be overlooked, even by professionals. It's best to have a follow-up appointment with your own pediatrician a few days after the accident -- just to be sure.
3. It's probably time to replace the car seat.
If your accident was very minor and there's no visible damage to the car seat, you may be able to continue to use it, However, most manufacturers recommend that you replace your baby's car seat after an accident. You can review your car seat's safety instructions to be sure, but a car seat that's already been in an accident may not be as effective at preventing injuries if there's a second accident. It may be simply wiser to replace it than worry.
If your baby was injured in a car accident, you need to realize that the long-term consequences may not be readily apparent. Don't wait, however, to find out more about your legal options.