Did an Accident Harm Your Son or Daughter?
A Child Injury Lawyer from Our Firm Can Assist Your Family
As a parent, there is nothing more stressful or devastating than when your child is seriously hurt. If the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, then you may feel helpless, angry and lost. You may have questions about your child’s care and your legal options. Your child’s future is likely your chief concern, but you may also worry about paying your child’s medical bills and affording other services your child may now require. A personal injury claim against the party or parties responsible for the accident can allow you to recover compensation for your expenses and also provide for your child’s future. However, these claims are often complex and especially difficult for parents struggling to care for a hurt child. A child injury lawyer can take on the burden of a legal claim while you focus on helping your son or daughter recover.
At Riddle & Brantley, LLP, we understand your concerns as the parent of an injured child. Our personal injury lawyers know that Justice Counts – particularly when the accident victim is a child. We have experience representing personal injury claims on behalf of injured children and their parents in Raleigh, Goldsboro, Kinston, Jacksonville and across North Carolina. Since accidents may happen at any time, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you with your child’s personal injury claim.
What Types of Accidents Commonly Cause Child Injuries?
Children are vulnerable to many of the same types of accidents that injure adults. Additionally, due to their inexperience and limited understanding of risk, children may also sustain injuries in situations that ordinarily pose little hazard to most adults. Potential causes of child injuries include:
- Car accidents, including wrecks that occur when a child is walking or riding a bicycle, skateboard or scooter. Also, defects in a vehicle’s design or in child safety seats may cause or exacerbate a child’s injuries.
- School bus accidents. In addition to accidents, children may also be at risk from negligent drivers while getting on or off the bus.
- Playground and amusement park accidents, often caused by dangerous conditions or defective equipment.
- Dog bites and other animal attacks. Children may try to touch a dog or other animal, unknowingly provoking an attack. Additionally, due to their height, children may sustain disfiguring facial wounds from a bite.
- Medical malpractice. Negligence by a physician and/or obstetrician during pregnancy or delivery may cause permanent birth injuries to an infant.
- Supervised sports and athletic accidents. Multiple concussions from contact sports like football can be particularly damaging to children.
- Dangerous or defective children’s products, such as toys, clothing, cribs, car seats and strollers.
- Dangerous conditions on someone else’s property, including what the law calls an “attractive nuisance.” This is a potentially dangerous condition that may attract a child’s attention, like a swimming pool. Unattended or unfenced swimming pools can attract a child, who may fall in the water and drown. Damaged or defective pool drains, ladders and pool equipment may also harm children. Attractive nuisances can also be unattended structures or hazards on property.
- Accidents at a school, daycare center, preschool, camp, church or other similar facility. Poor supervision or security can result in serious accidents.
Who is Liable for Child Injuries?
In many cases involving child injuries, an adult, a business or another organization has fallen short of the duty to act with reasonable care to protect the child from harm. This duty is often higher for children, as opposed to adults. For example, property owners must take additional steps to prevent child trespassers from injury. By contrast, owners usually owe no duty of care to adult trespassers. In most cases, the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the injured child may bring a personal injury claim against the negligent party.
North Carolina law follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, meaning that if an injury victim contributes at all to the accident that caused the injuries, then the victim cannot recover any compensation. However, the law usually holds children to a lower standard of care when it comes to negligence. Thus, actions that might qualify as contributory negligence for adults may not bar a child’s injury claim.
Generally, children under the age of 7 are considered incapable of negligence. The law presumes children between the ages of 7 and 14 are incapable of negligence, barring evidence to the contrary. Finally, the law presumes children aged 14 and older are capable of acting negligently unless evidence shows otherwise.
Issues of negligence and many other aspects of personal injury claims involving children are complex. Therefore, it is critical to get help from a child injury lawyer who understands North Carolina’s laws regarding children’s claims.
What are the Costs of a Child’s Personal Injuries?
When an accident causes serious personal injuries to a child, parents may face economic losses, as parents are financially responsible for their children. These costs generally include medical bills and expenses related to ongoing rehabilitation and/or assistance. Depending on the circumstances, your health insurance may cover your child’s medical costs. However, sometimes parents may face substantial medical debt.
Additionally, the injured child may experience unbearable pain and suffering from his or her injuries. Young victims may also suffer from major emotional and psychological problems after an accident. Personal injuries that cause long-lasting impairments or permanent disabilities may substantially reduce a child’s future earning potential and diminish the child’s enjoyment of life.
Children and their parents should not have to struggle with the financial and psychological costs of an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness. Working with an experienced child injury attorney can help you secure the compensation you and your child need to make your child’s future as bright as possible.
How Does a Child Injury Claim Work?
In North Carolina, the court typically splits lawsuits concerning a child’s personal injuries into two claims. The first is the parents’ claim for compensation for medical bills and similar expenses. The second is the child’s claim for pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, lost future earning capacity and other similar losses.
Since children legally lack the capacity to pursue a case in court, the court appoints a guardian ad litem to protect the child’s interests in a lawsuit. Sometimes, a parent may serve as the child’s guardian ad litem. However, another relative, an attorney or another responsible adult may take on this role, if necessary. If your claim reaches a settlement before trial, then the court typically must approve the terms of the settlement to assure that it is in the child’s best interests.
In many cases, the child’s compensation will be held in trust until the child turns 18.
The statute of limitations, or the deadline for bringing a legal claim, may also be different in cases involving minor injury victims. In some instances, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” (extended) while a personal injury victim is still a minor. Generally, the claim for the injury to the child will extend until the injured party turns 21 (3 years after reaching the age of 18). The parents’ claim for medical bills incurred before the child reaches the age of 21 will usually expire when the child reaches 18. However, the laws that apply to these deadlines are complex. Therefore, you should always consult an attorney to learn how long you may have to file a claim.
Need Help with a Personal Injury Claim for Your Child? You Can Count on Us
At Riddle & Brantley, LLP, our lawyers have over 160 years of combined experience in personal injury law, including child injury claims. We are ready to put our experience to work on your child’s behalf.
To accommodate your schedule, we are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can also meet you wherever is convenient for a no-cost, no-obligation, confidential evaluation of your child’s personal injury claim. Call (800) 525-7111 or contact us online to get started today.