Children are very active and mobile, but are far less aware and careful than adults. The combination produces a lot of accidents, which, in turn, produce a lot of injuries and deaths. In addition to engaging in many inherently dangerous youthful activities like climbing and cycling, they are exposed to most of the same dangers as adults, like motor vehicle accidents and defective products.
Injuries to children present unique problems in any legal case asking for compensation. Since they are still developing in every way, some injuries may not even be fully visible until the child victim reaches a later stage of development. For example, how does a burn injury to a three year old affect that child’s adjustment to school and social situations, environments that the child has yet to encounter? The younger the child, the bigger the problem. The aid of a Dallas child injury attorney with specific experience in these cases is invaluable in obtaining adequate compensation.
Why Get Help From a Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer from the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. could help you and your family understand your rights after your child suffers serious injuries. Rather than believing what an insurance company has to say – potentially told to you in the hopes of reducing your financial recovery – you can benefit from receiving counsel from a party that has your best interests in mind. Dallas injury attorney Aaron Herbert is a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Specialist with a long history of success in obtaining compensation for victims of other people’s negligence.
Your attorney can review the events leading up to your child’s injury, help you determine fault and name the defendant, and answer your questions openly and honestly along the way. A lawyer will explore ways of maximizing the compensation you receive from a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can walk you through the claims process on behalf of your injured child so you can rest assured someone is handling your case properly while you focus on recovery.
What Parties Can Be Held Responsible?
Personal injury laws in Texas state that any injured victim – including a child – will have the right to hold an at-fault party responsible for his or her damages if the at-fault party reasonably should have prevented the damages in question. Anyone with the power to prevent the child’s injuries that negligently or intentionally failed to do so could be financially responsible for the victim’s damages. Many Dallas child injury cases involve defendants such as schools, school districts and daycare centers. Several different parties, however, could be defendants in a child injury lawsuit in Texas depending on the circumstances.
- A school
- A daycare center
- A babysitter
- A property owner
- A product manufacturer
- A driver
- A doctor
- A criminal or sex offender
- The government
- An individual
If your case involves more than one at-fault party, your Dallas child injury lawyer could help you bring claims against all appropriate defendants. In these cases, each defendant could be responsible for either his or her portion of fault or the victim’s full damages. Texas’ modified joint and several liability law states that if a defendant is more than 50% responsible for the accident, he or she must pay the full amount of the plaintiff’s damages. Less than 50% responsibility will mean the defendant must only pay an amount in proportion to his or her percentage of fault.
How Can I File a Claim on Behalf of Someone?
Someone who suffered severe injuries as a child typically has the right to file a claim him or herself at age 18. In Texas, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims will pause until the victim turns 18. The two-year statute of limitations means the injured child will have until age 20 to file a claim, in most cases. This is not the only option for financial recovery for a childhood injury, however. The Texas courts also allow a parent or legal guardian to bring an injury claim on the child’s behalf before the child turns 18.
Prompt claims filing on behalf of your child could benefit your case by initiating a lawsuit while evidence against the defendant is still available. Accounts of the incident may also still be fresh in witnesses’ minds. In Texas, a parent or guardian can file a personal injury claim on a child’s behalf within two years of the date of the injury. To file a claim, visit the civil court in the county where the injury occurred. Contact a lawyer to help you fill out the proper paperwork, then submit it to the court by the deadline.
How Are Child Injuries Compensated?
Although a personal injury lawsuit cannot take back the injuries or losses your child suffered, it could lead to important compensation for his or her past and future damages. A successful injury claim could give your family the recovery necessary to move forward. The defendant may owe your family a financial award that makes it easier to afford your child’s future health care needs – especially if the incident caused a permanent disability. In Texas, you could recover many different types of compensation for a successful child injury lawsuit.
- Medical costs. A settlement or jury verdict could pay the full costs of your child’s existing and foreseeable future medical expenses. This could include the costs of surgeries, rehabilitation, therapies, medical devices and medications.
- Disability costs. If another person’s recklessness or negligence gave your child a permanent disability, such as cerebral palsy, a spinal cord injury or brain damage, your family could receive an award for the lifelong estimated costs associated with the disability, including lost capacity to earn a living wage and the price of live-in care.
- Pain and suffering. You could file a claim for your child’s physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, trauma, nightmares, humiliation and other noneconomic damages, as well as for your mental anguish as a parent.
- Lost quality of life. If a permanent disability or traumatic event caused long-term effects that diminished your child’s quality or enjoyment of life, this could be a compensable damage. This includes the child’s inability to lead a normal life due to the incident.
- Legal expenses. Your child injury lawsuit could also demand all attorney’s fees and filing costs related to bringing your claim. At the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C., we do not charge anything for our services unless we win.
The Texas civil courts allow families to seek both economic and noneconomic damages for child injuries. Some judges may also award punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence, malicious intent to harm or wanton disregard for the safety of your child. The total compensatory award your family could receive for a child’s injuries may provide closure, peace of mind and years of financial stability. If you lost your child in a negligence-related accident, you may also receive wrongful death damages such as funeral and burial expenses as a parent.
Frequency and Type of Injuries
How common are accidental injuries to children? Very. The CDC reports that the annual cost of unintentional injuries in the US is nearly $11.5 billion, with injury treatment the leading cause of medical spending on children.
In the US, over 9 million children visit an emergency room each year for an unintentional injury and 12,175 children die from unintentional injuries. Some 2.8 million emergency department visits resulted from falls, alone, making falls the most common cause of nonfatal injuries among children.
The other most common causes of nonfatal injuries to children include:
- Motor vehicle-related injuries (especially for older children)
- Being struck by an object
- Animal bites/stings
The frequency of these injuries varies by the age of the children.
Transportation and travel accidents are the leading cause of fatal injuries to children, though again this varies by age group. These accidents most often involve riding in motor vehicles, but pedestrian-vehicle accidents and bicycling accidents also cause a substantial number of children’s deaths. In Texas during the years 2000 through 2005, 6753 children aged 19 and younger died from unintentional injuries. Over 2,800 of these deaths involved children riding in a motor vehicle. Just under 600 other deaths involved child pedestrians struck by vehicles.
Children’s Injuries Are Often More Damaging
There are several reasons that injuries to children can be more harmful than similar injuries to adults:
- A child’s skeleton is still developing; further physical development may be hampered by injuries to a growth plate in a bone, scar contractures, or any serious skeletal injuries that restrict motion or limb length.
- The child brain is still developing; if the brain is significantly injured, a child victim faces acquiring basic mental and intellectual skills for the first time with diminished capacity, while an adult victim has the advantage
- The child’s personality and psyche are still developing; any injury that produces a deformity, visible scarring, or the like may fundamentally alter the victim’s ability to function in a social, educational or vocational environment
- The child will endure the lasting effects of the injury for a longer time simply because the child has a longer remaining life span, unless…
- The injury is of a type that decreases life span, in which case the child has more years of life to lose
Where Can Child Injuries Happen?
A child injury can occur anywhere an adult injury can, including on the road, in grocery stores and in public parks. A child is also at a higher risk, however, of suffering injuries in places such as schools and daycare centers. No matter where your child’s injuries occurred, someone else could be responsible if that person or entity breached a duty to care for the safety of your child.
- At home. An injury at home may give you the right to file a lawsuit if a hazard such as a defective child’s toy caused the incident. If a negligent babysitter at your home contributed to the injuries, he or she could be liable. If your child was at another person’s house, the property owner could be liable.
- At school. Child injuries at school can arise from lack of supervision, dangerous premises, defective playground equipment, bullies or sexual abuse. Any of these incidents could give parents the right to file an injury claim on behalf of the child.
- At a daycare center. Daycare injuries could arise from child neglect, abuse or a dangerous premises. Any breach of duty of care at a daycare center that results in injury to a child could make the facility liable for damages.
- In auto accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of serious childhood injuries and deaths. If your child suffered injuries in an auto accident, another driver or a vehicle part manufacturer could owe your family compensation.
- At the hospital. A physician, nurse or surgeon could injure your child by engaging in medical malpractice. If your child’s injuries occurred at a birthing center, children’s hospital or surgical center in Dallas, speak to a lawyer about a potential medical malpractice lawsuit.
Child injuries in Dallas can happen anywhere, at any time. Your child could suffer life-changing injuries at school, daycare, a friend’s house, a hotel, a public swimming pool, an amusement park or on the road. It is how you react to the injuries that could decide your family’s financial future. Speaking to a lawyer from the Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. could help you understand the rights you have to bring an injury claim against one or more at-fault parties for your child’s injuries.
Get Help for Your Injured Child
If your child has been injured or you have lost a child to death from accidental injuries, time is very valuable. Not only do you have a limited time to sue for compensation, but every passing day makes it more likely that necessary evidence is being lost. The sooner you obtain experienced legal help, the better.
Call today before time limits expire. The sooner you get us involved, the sooner we can begin the crucial process of holding the people responsible for your child’s injuries responsible.