Childhood injuries are common throughout the United States and can cause lifelong pain and trauma both to the child and to their loved ones. While many accidents are just that—accidents—some injuries result from the intentional or negligent acts of another person. Children can be impulsive because they have less experience and knowledge than adults. This increases both the likelihood of them suffering injuries and the responsibility that adults have to protect them in dangerous situations. People who fail to act with the required standard of care or to take reasonable safety precautions, as well as those who harm children intentionally, are often liable for any resulting injuries.
While some children are injured in the same accidents as adults, such as car accidents, many injuries arise in circumstances only children are exposed to—including child abuse, failure to keep property or devices safe for children, and more. Unlike adults, children are unable to legally advocate for themselves in most circumstances. When a child suffers an injury, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced lawyer to advocate on their behalf.
The North Miami Beach child injury lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are highly qualified and committed to representing children with the sensitivity and compassion they and their families deserve. With law offices coast to coast in Florida, we support our clients in North Miami Beach and across the state. Contact us now for your free consultation.
Who Is Responsible When a Child Is Injured?
Most people have heard of personal injury lawsuits. These are usually brought when one person is injured by another’s negligence. A person is negligent if they have a duty to exercise reasonable care and fail to do so, resulting in the other person’s injury. In this situation, the injured person may have a valid legal claim for compensation against the person who breached their duty. Personal injury cases often involve adults, but the same principles apply when a child is injured. Childhood injuries can greatly impact the injured child and their family, potentially affecting the child’s present and future as well as their caregiver’s career, finances, employment, and relationships.
The world can be a dangerous place, and if someone acted negligently or was intentionally harmful to your child, they may be liable for your child’s injury.
Examples of potentially liable parties include:
- Property owners;
- Pet owners;
- Health care professionals;
- Toy manufacturers;
- Playground equipment manufacturers;
- Other parents and caregivers;
- School officials;
- Sports coaches or other players;
- And more.
If your child was injured, seek the help of a qualified and experienced child injury lawyer to determine who may be legally liable for your child’s injury. An experienced child injury attorney has the skills and knowledge required to investigate the incident, interview witnesses, and build a strong case so that you have the best chance of recovering the damages you and your family deserve.
How Are Child Injury Cases Different?
Child injury victims are entitled to seek the same damages as grownups, but the law recognizes that children must be treated differently than adults in some ways. For instance, the law does not allow a child under 18 to file a personal injury lawsuit but instead requires a parent or legal guardian to do so on the child’s behalf.
Another difference in child injury cases is that children are sometimes subject to different time limits than adults for filing a personal injury claim in court. In Florida, the deadline for filing a personal injury claim is generally four years from the date of the accident. However, when a minor child is injured, Florida delays the time limit in certain circumstances. These include if the child does not have a parent or legal guardian, if the parent or guardian’s interests are adverse to the child’s, or if the parent or guardian is incapacitated and thus unable to sue on the child’s behalf.
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is also different when a minor is injured. Children need to be more protected in these instances, because some injuries may not be apparent until a child is more mature. For example, if an infant was deprived of oxygen at birth, they may later develop cerebral palsy or learning disabilities, but these injuries are often not apparent until well after the two-year statute of limitations that normally applies to medical malpractice claims. Medical malpractice cases involving minors have different guidelines determined on a case-by-case basis.
Another difference in child injury cases is that the court must approve some settlement agreements before they can be finalized, and the court oversees a parent or guardian’s use of the funds. This restriction is in place to ensure that parents and guardians act in the best interests of their children.
Under Florida Statute section 744.387, a parent or guardian can only settle a claim on behalf of a minor child without court approval if the total is less than $15,000. If the gross amount in the settlement agreement exceeds $15,000, the parent or guardian must seek court approval for the settlement by filing a Petition for Approval of Settlement.
This petition must describe the facts of the case, address liability, state the monetary damages and the settlement amount, and include attorney’s fees and costs. The judge will then decide if the settlement terms are in the best interests of the child. If the settlement is over $15,000, the court requires a formal guardianship to safeguard the funds, and it can only be accessed via a court order.
In cases where a child was injured on someone else’s property, a court will consider if the property owner knew about a hazard on their property that would tempt a curious child, such as an unfenced swimming pool. In these cases, the court may hold the owner liable for a child’s injury even if the child was trespassing. An adult who was injured while trespassing would typically be unable to recover damages from the property owner.
Finally, laws differ concerning the responsibility children have for their own safety. The court will consider whether a child acted in an age-appropriate manner when they were injured. If an older child did not behave as carefully as other children of the same age would normally act, they may be deemed partially at fault for an accident. This could potentially reduce their recovery. For example, we don’t expect a younger child to understand the dangers of a swimming pool, whereas we may hold a teenager to the same standards as an adult.
Because of all the different considerations that apply to child injury cases, hire an experienced Florida child injury lawyer. Your attorney must be vigilant in understanding and applying all the special procedural requirements in a case involving a child, so make sure that you’re working with an North Miami Beach injury attorney who is specifically qualified in the area of practice. To speak with Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA CONTACT us online or call at (305) 676-8154.
What Are the Common Causes of Child Injury?
The prospect of your child being injured is terrifying in a world full of risks. Unfortunately, accidents can happen in a second. When they do, you need a child injury lawyer by your side. An attorney will fight to hold the negligent party or parties responsible for the damages that you, your child, and your family have sustained.
According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among children in the United States. Unintentional injuries include those caused by burns, drowning, falls, traffic accidents, and more. Although many causes of child injuries are the same as adult injuries, children face additional risks that are unique to their age and life experience.
Some common causes of child injuries include:
- Personal injury accidents: such as motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, boating accidents, slip and fall accidents, and using a faulty or dangerous product.
- Child abuse and neglect: these cases often involve both civil and criminal liability. A child injury attorney can help steer you to the proper authorities to press criminal charges in addition to pursuing civil damages.
- Bullying and harassment: these cases are on the rise due to the increased use of social media, and can also involve civil and criminal liability.
- Unsafe properties: as noted above, while adults cannot sue a property owner for injury if they were trespassing on that owner’s property, different rules apply to children.
- Other dangerous situations: these can include drowning, poisoning, suffocation, falls, access to firearms, and more.
What Damages Can Children Recover in a Personal Injury Claim?
In any personal injury case, a victim often incurs medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering. To prove that your child should get damages after an injury, you must prove that the other party’s negligence caused their injury. This is true if they owed your child a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and thus caused your child and family to suffer substantial damages.
Because a child has their entire life ahead of them—meaning that they will likely need medical care for longer than an adult victim and may face decades of lost earning potential—child injury settlements for permanent, catastrophic injuries are often much larger than adult injury settlements. Permanent disabilities change how the child can expect to live and eventually work for the rest of their lives. Such injuries can also result in long-term complications, which put the victim at risk of other future injuries or diseases. Catastrophic injuries may also impact the child’s entire family in the long term.
Severe childhood injuries can involve life-threatening complications and sometimes tragically lead to a child’s death. They may require long hospital stays, expensive diagnostics and tests, specialists, surgeries, skilled long-term nursing, rehabilitation, medications, medical equipment, and regular checkups. This can lead to massive medical bills.
Lost Wages and Reduced Earning Potential
Catastrophic injuries result in a long, if not permanent, period of recovery. This can mean that the child can’t pursue the career they wanted, or any career at all. Lost wages and reduced earning potential are usually a huge part of the damages a parent or guardian seeks on their child’s behalf in a catastrophic injury claim. Not only are the victim’s lost wages and earning potential considered, but the financial losses incurred by family members who have to take time off work to care for them are often factored in as well.
Pain and Suffering
While less tangible, catastrophic injury claims usually include damages for pain and suffering. These are also known as non-economic damages. They can result from pain caused by severe injuries, as well as the psychological pain associated with physical injuries. Victims of childhood injuries often suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health issues due to their accidents’ effects on their lives. A victim can also often recover damages for lost quality or enjoyment of life in catastrophic injury cases.
The child’s family members may have valid claims for pain and suffering, as well. Families can recover non-economic damages for their emotional suffering, lost quality of life, and loss of emotional support and companionship. If they witnessed the accident, they may also be able to recover damages for emotional distress.
How Do We Prove My Child’s Damages?
By hiring an experienced child injury lawyer, you can begin the process of putting together a compelling case on your child’s behalf. Your legal team will help you compile medical records, doctor’s notes, expert reports, and testimony to demonstrate that the accident has caused extensive physical and emotional damage to your lives.
They will work to recover the damages that you deserve to cover your financial and emotional burdens. While your team works toward a settlement with the defendant or its insurance company, our lawyers can prepare for a potential trial.
North Miami Beach Child Injury FAQ
When your child suffers a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may find yourself with a lot of questions about your child’s legal rights. How can you make sure your child receives compensation to cover the full cost of his or her injuries? How can you use the funds from a child injury claim in North Miami Beach? Below, take a look at some of the most common child injury FAQs, or contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your child’s right to compensation and your family’s rights after a serious accident.
1. Can I Sue the School System if My Child Suffers an Injury in a North Miami Beach School Due to the Negligence of a Caregiver?
Florida acknowledges that if a public school system commits an act of negligence in caring for a child, that school system bears liability for those actions—both with regards to the suffering the child may have faced and the financial challenges that the family may have to contend with following the accident.
If your child suffers a serious injury at school due to the negligence of a caregiver or the school system as a whole, you may have the right to pursue compensation on your child’s behalf.
Filing a claim against a school can prove difficult. The school has an obvious duty of care to your child, since the school effectively stands in for the parents when it comes to supervision and protection throughout the average school day.
However, to show that the school breached its duty of care to your child, your lawyer may need to show that the school could reasonably have foreseen the cause of the accident or incident, and that better supervision, maintenance, or reasonable action on the part of the school or its staff could have prevented the incident.
For example, suppose that your child gets hurt while climbing on the playground. The equipment remained in good repair, and the teacher supervising your child did not see your child doing anything unusual or that would indicate a high accident risk. As a result, you may not have grounds for a child injury claim against the school system, because the school could not have predicted that potential for injury.
On the other hand, if the teacher allowed your child to engage in dangerous behavior on the playground equipment, or if the school failed to properly repair the playground equipment, and your child suffered injury as a result, you may have grounds for a claim against the school.
If you do need to sue a North Miami Beach school for your child’s injuries, having a lawyer on your side could prove critical. A lawyer can help collect the vital evidence you need to discover that the school committed a breach in its duty of care to your child and that you have grounds for a claim.
2. How Can I Use the Funds From a North Miami Beach Child Injury Claim?
Child injury claims often prove much more complex than personal injury claims filed on behalf of adults, especially if the child suffers severe, life-altering injuries and, as a result, has the right to claim substantial compensation for those injuries. If the child’s claim settles for $15,000 or less, the court will usually distribute the funds directly to the child’s parent or guardian, and the parent or guardian can determine how to best use those funds to take care of the child.
On the other hand, if the settlement exceeds $15,000, the funds may go into a restricted bank account or annuity. To access those funds, you must go through the court and receive a court order that establishes that you have the right to access the money and use it for a specific purpose.
The funds from a personal injury claim effectively belong to your child, as the one who suffered those injuries and who, therefore, has faced extreme damages and pain due to those injuries. However, as the child’s parent, you may need to access those funds to adequately care for your child. The funds from a child injury claim usually get distributed on a case-by-case basis. You must use the funds in the best interests of the child, to care for the child, and not for your purposes.
What the court will approve often varies on a case-by-case basis. However, in general, you can use the funds from a child injury claim to help cover the cost of your child’s medical expenses, especially the cost of ongoing medical expenses; the cost of educating your child, including providing educational modifications needed to fit your child’s new limitations; and expenses for things like shelter or modifications to your home required because of your child’s injuries. If you have questions about what constitutes an expense for your child, talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
3. What Should I Do About My Child’s Medical Bills After a Serious North Miami Beach Incident?
Dealing with medical bills can offer some of the biggest challenges when the time comes to address the aftermath of your child’s injuries. You may face emergency room bills, ongoing medical treatment bills, and the cost of durable medical equipment, including a wheelchair, crutches, and braces, or items that will help you care for your child at home. Those medical bills can add up fast, and many families struggle to figure out how to manage these costs before a collection agency starts to hassle them and they find their credit ruined.
As the legal guardian of your child, you will need to make arrangements to pay those medical bills. If you cannot pay those bills immediately, you may need to make payment arrangements.
However, you may have options that can help you cover the cost of your child’s medical treatment.
- Look for a treatment facility that will provide free or lower-cost treatment to children. Shriners Hospital, for example, has a donation-based model that provides care and services regardless of the family’s ability to pay. Using Shiner’s Hospital in Tampa or similar services can decrease your medical costs and help your child get the highest possible standard of care. Discuss your treatment options with your child’s doctor to make sure that you make the best choice to help your child get as much care as possible.
- Use your child’s medical insurance. Most children in Florida qualify for medical insurance programs that will help ensure that they have coverage in the event of a serious injury or illness. Programs like CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, cover children who do not belong to families that qualify for Medicaid, but who cannot afford private insurance coverage. Uninsured children, including those eighteen and under, and pregnant women qualify for CHIP based on income thresholds. If your child suffers a serious injury, those insurance options can make it much easier to afford many of the costs associated with your child’s medical care.
- Use the funds from your child’s injury claim. Florida law does usually allow parents to use the funds from a personal injury claim to cover the cost of medical treatment for the child who sustained those injuries. Medical care does fall under the best interests of the child standard, and the funds from a child injury claim can give you the ability to provide better overall medical care for your child than your family might have the means to provide without the money from that claim.
4. How Does a Child Injury Claim in North Miami Beach Look Different From an Adult Personal Injury Claim?
A child who has the right to file a personal injury claim generally cannot file a claim without the help of a parent or guardian. As your child’s guardian, you will need to work with an attorney to help determine how much compensation your child should pursue to cover the full cost of his or her injuries and go after that compensation.
A child injury claim may also look a little different than an adult personal injury claim. Legally, children under the age of six cannot face liability for an accident, and children between six and eighteen can only face partial liability for a claim, which may increase the compensation a child can recover. Then, you may need to work with a guardian assigned by the court to help you seek compensation on behalf of your child and ensure that the claim and the distribution of funds meet the child’s best interests.
Finally, the settlement issued by the court may go into a special trust for your child, which your child can access once he or she turns eighteen or meets other criteria. While you, as the parent, can access those funds to provide for your child, they remain protected until your child reaches legal adulthood.
5. Will My Child Have To Go to Court in North Miami Beach to Settle a Child Injury Claim?
Many parents fear that taking their child to court to seek compensation for a personal injury claim will traumatize the child all over again. You may worry that your child will have to relive the accident or will struggle to express the pain he or she may have felt. Most of the time, however, you will not need to take your child to court to seek compensation for his or her injuries. Not only do most child injury claims settle out of court, but also a minor child does not necessarily have to come to court to have a claim settled on his or her behalf.
6. What Should I Do if My Child Suffers Serious Injuries in North Miami Beach?
Any time your child suffers serious injuries, whether due to someone else’s negligence or not, make seeking medical attention your top priority. Without adequate medical care, your child may suffer more serious injury or face more severe limitations from those injuries.
You may also want to follow a few other steps to help ensure that you have the tools you need to support your child.
- Take photos of the accident scene, if you can. If you can move around the accident scene or can grab a few pictures while attending to your child, take those pictures. Photographic evidence can prove an incredibly valuable tool in establishing your child’s right to compensation.
- Collect contact information from any witnesses. Witnesses can help piece together the events that led to the accident, which can help establish liability later. If you can collect contact information from witnesses, store it in a location where you can easily access it later, like your phone.
- Report the accident. If your child suffers injuries in a car accident or due to an act of violence, you may need to report the accident to the police. If your child suffers an injury in a store or other facility, you may want to report the incident to staff, so they can file a report about the accident and keep it on file.
- Follow the instructions of your child’s care providers. You may receive many instructions from your child’s doctors that dictate the type of care your child needs and your child’s limitations. Follow those instructions carefully. Keep in mind that a child’s recovery may look very different from an adult’s, since children heal at different rates or may have different complications in healing.
- Contact an attorney. As soon as possible after your child’s accident, contact an attorney who can provide you with more information about the compensation your child may qualify to pursue following a North Miami Beach accident.
7. How Long Do I Have to File a Child Injury Claim in North Miami Beach?
Florida law may limit the time you have to file a child injury claim. The specifics of the statute of limitations in your child’s specific claim will depend on where the injury occurred. For example, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice may look different than other types of child injury claims. Consult an attorney to learn more about the specific terms of your child’s injury claim and how long you have to seek compensation.
Your North Miami Beach Child Injury Attorneys
If your child has sustained a severe injury, seek experienced, compassionate legal help as soon as possible. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, at (305) 676-8154, or you can write to us using our online contact form.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“I can’t express enough praise to Brent and his team for the superb results they achieved on my mother’s personal injury case. Brent was very hands on with our case and had a genuine interest in my mother’s well being. He has an amazing ability to explain all of the moving parts in a personal injury case. We were well informed of every aspect of our case and never felt confused for one moment. I would without a doubt recommend his services! Thank you again Brent !”
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