Q: My kid was injured in a rental car as the seat belts failed due to them not working. They only want to pay the ER bill.
After driving about 2 hours from the rental place an accident happened right in front of us. I had to slam on the breaks and my kid came out of the seat and slammed into the seat in front of him. My daughters car seat moved but she did not sustain any injuries. My kid went to the er with neck pain and bruises on his face along with a migraine. They want to just pay the ER bill and $200 for pain and suffering. He missed a few days of school as a result. I feel they should compensate a little more. Is that wrong? They do not inspect seat belts to be sure they are in working order prior to renting. It took them 3 days to get me a new car and thay was me calling 2-3 times a day asking to please exchange the vehicle. No lawyers will take my case because obviously it is not a big case. Had I been involved in the accident in front of me, my children could have died! They don't take this seriously. What do I do?
A: There's no rush to settle this case because your child can sue until they're 18. So if there's a chance they may have suffered some permanent injury, you don't want to settle the case before that's discovered. Chances are they're fine and that's the most important thing. You might want to talk to a few more lawyers. Unfortunately this is a small case and when a minor is involved, the court has to approve any settlement and it has to be held in trust until the child is 18. That's a significant amount of trouble and inconvenience for what could be a very small settlement. Another issue you may have is that you might be partly responsible, you might have been negligent in slamming on the brakes or not maintaining a significant distance from the accident in the first place. While that might not be the case, it is at least arguable. An attorney for your child should go after all responsible parties, one of which could be you. Puts an attorney in a bad position when the driver of the car involved in an accident looks to them to represent a passenger. If it were my child, I probably wouldn't settle anything, keeping the case open for as long as possible to ensure no future issues arise.
A: The rental agency does not have a duty to inspect seat belts. The reason you can't find an attorney is because your claim for a defective seat belt would be against the manufacture of the seat belt and the vehicle. As you can imagine... that would be very expensive to prosecute. The cost for expert witnesses would far outweigh any potential recovery. So it just doesn't make sense to bring a claim. You are not entitled to recover for what "might" have happened. If you are determined to bring a claim... go to small claims court.
A: In California, you have the right to negotiate with the rental car company to seek fair compensation for your child's injuries and related damages. It's advisable to document all medical expenses, missed school days, and any other expenses incurred due to the incident. If the rental car company is not willing to offer a reasonable settlement, you may consider consulting with a personal injury attorney for further guidance and options to pursue a claim for a higher amount of compensation.
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