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Helping the Family Return to Normal (FAQ-Part Two)

As we continue discussing the long trek back to helping the family return to normal after a child’s serious injury accident, let’s focus our attention on how to help your child readjust to life at home.

How can I help my child get back into a regular routine as her recovery continues?

During the recovery process, however long it lasts, your primary objective is to help your child return to a sense of normalcy—getting back to what life was like before the accident, or however close you can get to that mark. It may take time and patience, but try to keep the child moving toward that goal without pushing too hard. Some tips that may help:

Let the child learn (or relearn) to do things on her own. You did everything for her when she was bedridden in the hospital, and maybe even when she first came home. Now, as her physical condition allows, it’s time to let her gradually take over some basic tasks she could do before the accident. Be patient, and don’t step in too quickly to help—even if the child gets frustrated at first. Give her time to figure out how to do it, and it’s fine if it’s a little different than she did it before. Every small victory that comes her way will help empower her and give her confidence.

Avoid patronizing her disabilities. Your child may have to learn to live with some differences in her physical body after the accident, but the more you can make those differences seem normal and acceptable, the more normal she will feel. Avoid treating the child as though she is fragile. If she can’t do some things for herself anymore, treat these issues as natural, and they will become so. At some point, she must no longer feel like the “invalid” of the family.

Begin giving her more responsibilities. Children naturally love being given a pass as an excuse to avoid chores, but your child needs to begin feeling useful again. Another step toward “normal” is to start reassigning chores to your child as she is physically able to do them.

What if my child has permanent injuries or disabilities in the wake of the accident?

Depending on the extent of your child’s injuries after the accident, the path toward normalcy for your family might require finding a “new normal.” Let’s explore this possibility as we continue discussing recovering after a major injury accident.

Serious vehicle accidents may result in permanent disabilities, and sometimes an attorney must fight in court to make sure your settlement can cover ongoing costs of those disabilities. But how can you help your child and your family adjust to these changes in your home life? For example, how does your child learn how to resume normal life while missing an arm or a leg? What if the child is wheelchair-bound, paralyzed or has suffered brain damage? Whatever the case, this physical/mental change must now become part of your family’s “new normal.” Some ideas that may help:

Find one or more support groups or professional counseling. We’ve said this before, but don’t think you have to do all this on your own. Talk to a professional, or to others who have gone through similar trauma. (Check our Resources section to look for support groups in your area.)

Reallocate responsibilities. If your child can no longer function without assistance, others may have to pick up the slack. Yet no one person should have to carry the full weight of caring for the child. Including you. If you have the impulse to become a full-time nurse to your child, be careful. Doing so may result in burnout. Instead, try delegating responsibilities among family members and others able to help.

Hire help as needed. Don’t expect that you can do everything on your own, the way you used to. And you shouldn’t have to. Part of the purpose of hiring a personal injury lawyer is to make sure you have enough money to care for your child’s extended needs. And that money shouldn’t just cover acute medical care, but care related to well-being.

Caring for a child with a permanent disability can certainly be challenging, especially at first. However, remember your goal is to integrate these changes into a “new normal” for your home. The more ways you can find to accommodate and work around these challenges, the more at ease you helping the family return to normal can become with it.

What are the right and wrong ways to install a child car seat?

For most parents who have had a child injured in a car wreck, car safety understandably becomes a top priority moving forward. Regardless of whether a child car seat had anything to do with your child’s injuries, you want to make sure nothing like this happens again. And yet, if you’re like the vast majority of parents, you’re statistically making at least one major mistake in installing your child car seats. Parents Magazine reported that only five percent of parents install car seats with zero mistakes!

Correct installation of a car seat can greatly reduce your child’s risk of injury in an accident—so how can you make sure you’re doing it correctly? Some general tips, based on the American Academy of Pediatrics and others’ guidelines:

  • Make sure you’re using a seat age/weight appropriate for your child. Check the manufacturer’s specifications to find out.
  • Position the seat correctly according to the child’s age. Infants should be rear-facing until at least age 1 or 20 pounds. The Mayo Clinic recommends extending this mark to age 2 or about 35 pounds.
  • Leave no slack in the harness. You should only be able to fit one finger between your child’s collarbone and the strap.
  • Use the anchors and tethers in your vehicle. Newer cars come equipped with the LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to increase child seat security.
  • Get training from a professional, if needed, to make sure you’re installing the seat correctly.

How can I prevent or minimize the likelihood of future car crashes?

Once the initial shock and trauma of an injury accident have worn off, and once you begin the recovery process, there’s a natural concern about getting back into the car. What can you do to make sure this tragedy never happens again?

While you have no control of other drivers on the road, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of experiencing another car crash, and to reduce risk of injury in the event another accident occurs.

  • Make sure all children are secure in their seats. (Refer back to the FAQ on car seat safety if necessary.) Make sure adults wear seat belts as well.
  • Reduce distractions in the car. You’ll probably find it impossible to keep the kids from bantering back and forth—but you can limit other distractions. For example, don’t talk on the phone or text while driving, and if the kids watch videos or play games on devices, have them keep the volume low or use headphones. If you feel the activity in the car is affecting your ability to drive, pull over until you can regain control.
  • Keep your vehicles well maintained. Schedule regular maintenance with your mechanic. Keep fluids at the correct levels. Keep tires properly inflated. Replace tires and brake pads as needed, to ensure you have full control of the vehicle while driving.
  • Have all drivers in the family take a defensive driving course. Defensive driving effectively means learning to anticipate actions of other drivers on the road. Although you can’t control what they do, with proper training you can greatly reduce the risk that another driver’s bad decision will cause you to crash. As an added bonus, according to Safe Motorist, a defensive driving certificate can reduce your insurance premiums by up to 10 percent.

If you need skilled legal representation on behalf of your injured child, we are here to help. Call Greathouse Trial Law at (678) 310-2827 for a free case evaluation.

Riah Greathouse, Esq.

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