According to the CDC, the leading cause of injury and death among children in the U.S. is unintentional injury, such as burns, drowning, falls, poisoning, and auto accidents. Every parent exerts his or her best efforts to protect his or her children from harm. Unfortunately, the fact remains that children will sustain injuries. Once you have addressed your child's medical needs, how can you properly attend to your child's legal needs?
Just as you made sure your child received appropriate medical attention, it is critical to protecting your child's legal interests as well. The person who is legally responsible for causing an injury to your child is also legally obligated to pay your child's medical bills (and other costs arising from the injury). Here are a few of the most common accidents that cause injury to children:
According to the World Health Organization, traffic injuries are the leading cause of death in persons between ten and nineteen years old. Safety regulations such as airbags and car seats have certainly lessened the extent of injuries a person sustains in a car accident. But the fact remains that as long as there are vehicles on the road, accidents will happen. What happens after the accident?
The insurance companies of the involved drivers conduct an investigation to determine if their driver was responsible for the accident (and if so, to what extent). This investigation can consist of statements from the insured driver(s), police reports, photographs of the scene, forensic analysis of the vehicles, and statements from witnesses.
Each insurance company then assigns a percentage of legal responsibility (“liability”) to their driver.
If the percentage is anything more than zero, that insurance company will make an offer to pay that percentage of the medical bills and costs – such as property damage, lost wages, etc. – incurred as a result of the accident. This total amount is known as your "damages."
In dealing with an insurance company, the most common areas of dispute are (1) whether their driver is responsible for causing the accident and (2) agreeing on the value of your legal damages. The goal of any insurance company is to pay as few claims as possible for as little money as possible. This is why it is important to have an experienced personal injury attorney represent your interests to an insurance company (or, if necessary, to a jury).
When the injured party is a child, the value of damages can be even more difficult to ascertain. For example, lost wages can be easily calculated by multiplying the number of work hours missed by the employee's hourly wage. But how can you calculate the value of missed school days to a child? What if a parent has to tutor a child while the child recovers from the accident? Does that time represent a dollar value to the parent and/or child that should be compensated by the other driver's insurance company? (Spoiler alert: that insurance company will say it does not.)
Most problematic in valuing a child's personal injury claim is the measurement of pain and suffering. This is usually the largest monetary component of a personal injury award. Adults' pain and suffering can usually be demonstrated by such things as pain medications, physical therapy, chiropractic sessions, etc. But many of these interventions cannot be used on young children. Does that mean that the child isn't in pain? What if a very young child is not yet speaking, and thus cannot describe his or her pain? Does that mean that there is no pain? (Spoiler alert: the other driver's insurance company will deny that the child is in pain.) Furthermore, children are physically resilient and better able to recover from injuries than adults. This affects the value of a personal injury claim too.
In summary, there are many complications that can arise in valuing a personal injury claim when the claimant is a child. It is important to protect the child's legal interests by consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the particular needs of an injured child.
Every parent works to protect his or her children from common household dangers, such as:
Slips, trips, and falls
When these sorts of injuries happen, the owner of the property on which they occurred may be liable for the accident based upon the condition of the property at the time of the accident. This is known as "premises liability." In general, store managers and other commercial property owners have a higher obligation for maintaining their premises than homeowners do. But a homeowner can be liable for injuries that occur on their property.
Once again, a premises liability claim is complicated when the victim is a child. Does the property owner have to work harder to make the premises safe for children? If so, how much? Did the owner know that children would be present? Should he have? All of these questions factor into the value of a child's premises liability claim.
Malpractice can be committed by a host of doctors, lawyers, dentists, therapists, and similar professionals. (The specific categories of professionals will be determined by the laws of your particular state.) When malpractice is committed, the patient/client has a legal claim for damages against the professional and his or her malpractice insurance carrier. If your child has been the victim of medical, legal, dental, or mental health malpractice, it is important to protect his or interests before it is too late. Malpractice claims – like other negligence claims – are subject to statutes of limitation.
Contact an Experienced Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you or your child has been injured in an auto or other accident, contact the Dolman Law Group today. We have offices in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey. Our experienced team will ensure that the unique needs of your child are met and that your case is pursued aggressively. Call our office at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation.