Children are particularly susceptible to injuries throughout their development. This means that you can’t always avoid children’s injuries. There are a lot of laws on the state and federal level that attempt to secure the safety of children. Unfortunately, these laws are not always adhered to or upheld, and the negligence of an adult can all too easily harm, injure or take the life of a child. It is usually the parents or guardians of that child who will bring a claim on his or her behalf.
Child Injury Statistics
Different injuries are more common at different stages of the child’s life, with children being most at risk of dangerous injury between 15 and 17 months (according to a University of California study). Some of the US child injury statistics that you should be aware of include the following:
- Every year, 14 million+ children are injured.
- Every year, 6,600+ children are killed by injuries.
- The leading cause of death in children over the age of one year is trauma.
- House fires cause 47% of children’s injuries from birth to the age of four.
- Common Causes of Injuries to Children
- Attacks/Bites from animals
- Medical Malpractice
- Injury during birth
- Accidents with dangerous toys
- Sports/Playground injuries
- Pool/Water accidents
- Car accidents
- Defective products
- Broken bones
- Falling down
- Prescription drug reactions/Poisoning
- Accident Investigation
Serious children’s injuries that are not intentional are usually avoidable if caregivers and other adults have taken the necessary precautions to protect children from harm. This is why it is important to investigate each accident and all circumstances and potentially defective products that may have contributed to the injury. This is how your Miami personal injury attorney can establish legal liability for the injury.
Child Injuries Caused By Negligence
Many child injuries are directly caused by the negligence of adults. For example, if there is not enough supervision during school or at daycare at the playground, head injuries and broken bones are common outcomes. The worst cases are those that involve negligent supervision because these are almost always preventable. The person(s) liable for negligent supervision case injuries can be any of the following:
- The child’s own parents
- The parents of other children (when supervising the child)
- Schools, daycares, and other childcare providers
- Duty of Care
An adult who has taken responsibility for your child at any given time has taken on the responsibility of the “duty of care” to you and your child to keep him or her safe while in the care of that adult. This means that if the adult fails to uphold the necessary safety measures that this duty requires, the adult in question may be held liable for the injury and responsible for compensating the medical costs, pain, suffering, and other expenses and damages accrued through the injury.
Proving Negligence in a Child Injury Case
You have to prove a few things to prove that your child’s injury was caused by negligence. For example, as the plaintiff in a tort case, you must establish the answers to these questions:
- Did the plaintiff give consent to the action that caused the injury? Consenting to the action that caused the injury disproves negligence.
- Is the plaintiff partially responsible for the negligence? This is Contributory or Comparative Negligence which will reduce the damages recovered.
- Did the injury occur while the plaintiff was doing something illegal? If illegality is a factor on the part of the plaintiff, then the plaintiff is not likely to receive damages.
- What Can You Recover in Compensation?
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Pain and suffering/Mental anguish
- Lost wages from time off work
- Funeral costs (wrongful death)
Whenever a child is injured because of negligence, you should contact a Miami child injury lawyer to discuss the details of your case and determine how to proceed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Claims Involving Children
Q: How much time do I have to bring a lawsuit on behalf of my child after an injury?
A: Florida laws limit the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit against someone following an incident. When it comes to children, there is a special rule that allows a child up to one year following his or her 18th birthday to file a lawsuit for personal injuries. Not everyone agrees with this rule because they feel that the parent should file a lawsuit within one year of the injury. Your best bet is to contact an attorney as soon as possible when your child has been injured through negligence.
In medical malpractice cases, the rules are a bit different and a statute of repose applies in which you have three years to bring a claim against the negligent entity, no matter how old the person is. In some circumstances, the minor child will have until his or her 19th birthday to file a suit. The medical providers should be given formal notice of the lawsuit before filing to extend the deadline by 120 days.
At times, it can be complicated to determine the actual deadline for your child injury case. If you make a mistake here, you can lose your legal right to seek compensation. Always contact an attorney for a free consultation if you think that you have a claim.
Q: In a child injury lawsuit, what damages can be recovered?
A: There are many damages that can be recovered in a child injury lawsuit. Medical expenses, pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, disability, and scarring, loss of enjoyment of life, and lost wages and earning potential are all possible damages that can be recovered. Parents and family members who pay medical expenses and other expenses on behalf of the injured child can recover these expenses and can also recover damages for the loss of the services of the injured child in some cases.
Q: Which medical expenses can be recovered in a child injury lawsuit?
A: In a child injury lawsuit, as in any other injury lawsuit, whatever reasonable medical bills have been incurred through an injury caused by the negligence of another can be recovered. Even future and on-going medical expenses can be recovered.
Q: What qualifies as pain and suffering?
A: Any physical discomfort caused by an injury can qualify as physical pain and suffering. Any mental or emotional discomfort (fear, humiliation, grief, anxiety, distress, shame, etc) can qualify as mental or emotional pain and suffering.
Q: When can someone recover damages for disfigurement?
A: Any time that a person experiences injuries that impair his or her appearance, including scarring and lost limbs, he or she can recover damages for disfigurement.
Q: When can someone recover damages for loss of enjoyment of life?
A: Any time that a person experiences injuries that limit his or her ability to engage in enjoyable activities, including hobbies, traveling, and other pleasurable experiences that he or she was formerly able to enjoy, he or she can recover damages for loss of enjoyment of life.
Q: When can someone recover damages for disability?
A: Any time that a person experiences injuries that result in losing the physical ability to do things that he or she could do before the injury, he or she can recover damages for disability.
Q: When can someone recover damages for loss of earning capacity?
A: Any time that a person experiences injuries that result in losing the ability to work and earn money in the present and future, he or she can recover damages for lost earning capacity. This can include lost wages, though in the case of child injuries is more likely to involve the loss of future earning capacity.
In many cases, the recovery for loss of earning capacity will exceed the sum of actual lost wages because the person may be able to show that he or she was moving up the income ladder and would have earned more in the future. An example can be found in students who work part-time, but would have been able to earn much more throughout life with their education had the injury not occurred.
Q: If I believe I have a personal injury claim on behalf of my child, what should I do?
A: When you believe that you may have a personal injury claim to file on behalf of your child, you should contact an attorney as soon as you can. Your attorney will gather evidence to determine your claim’s validity, just as the insurance company of the liable party works to gather evidence to refute it.
Questions About The Death Of A Child
Q: Following the death of my child, what is my deadline for filing a lawsuit?
A: While the answer to this question can vary, the general rule is to file within one year of the date of the injury that caused the death. In some medical malpractice cases, you can extend this deadline by giving advance notice to the medical providers. The wisest option is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you are well within the statute of limitations for your case.
Q: In a lawsuit for the death of a child, what damages are recoverable?
A: The damages that can be recovered in a lawsuit for the death of a child include medical expenses, funeral expenses, and the pecuniary value of the child’s life. Pecuniary value is determined by such factors as the loss of the relationship (love, society, affection) and the loss of wages that would have been earned during the child’s lifetime.
Q: What are my legal rights if my child lost his or her life through someone else’s negligence?
A: To determine your legal rights in a case where your child lost his or her life through someone else’s negligence, you should contact an attorney to gather evidence to validate your claim.