Can I Bring a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child?
When children are injured through negligence or wrongdoing, they have the right to recover compensation for their injuries and damages. Sadly, some children sustain injuries that can have long-term consequences for their health, development, and overall wellbeing. The party responsible for the injury should be held financially liable for damages.
However, children cannot file personal injury claims on their own behalf. They do not have the legal standing to file claims or lawsuits. Therefore, parents and legal guardians have the legal authority to file a personal injury claim on behalf of a child.
If your child has been injured, you may feel overwhelmed by the situation. Your primary focus is on your child’s care and wellbeing. However, you may also be worried about protecting legal claims against the people who injured your child.
Your child deserved compensation for his or her injuries. If you have questions about your child’s injury claim, a child injury lawyer can help. The article below answers many of the questions that you might have about a child injury claim.
What is a Child Injury Claim?
A child injury claim is a legal claim for compensation of damages when a child sustains an injury caused by another person.
Children are at risk of injury from many different situations.
Some common situations that can result in a child injury claim include:
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents
- Bus accidents
- Medical malpractice and birth injuries
- Premises liability claims, including playground injuries, swimming pool accidents, school accidents, amusement park accidents, etc.
- Defective product injuries
- Assault and violent acts
- Recreational and sports injuries
As with an injury case involving an adult, you must prove that another party is responsible for causing your child’s injury before you can recover compensation for damages. However, children may not be held to the same standard for comparative negligence that adults are held to in an injury case.
Suppose an adult is injured while trespassing on someone’s property, the adult might be barred from recovering damages. However, children may not be aware of the dangers associated with certain activities. For instance, a homeowner could be held liable for a child’s injury in a swimming pool if the homeowner did not take adequate measures to prevent a child from entering the pool area.
Determining liability in a child injury case could be challenging. Do not allow an insurance company or other party to convince you that it is not responsible for your child’s injury without talking to a personal injury lawyer. An attorney needs to carefully review the evidence and the laws related to the specific cause of action to assess fault and liability.
What Types of Damages Are Included in a Child Injury Claim?
Children can seek compensation for the same types of damages as adults can recover for an injury. However, you must be careful to include all potential damages when filing a child injury claim.
Common damages included in a child injury claim are:
- Cost of medical and personal care
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and mental trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Disabilities and impairments
- Loss of future earning capacity
Because an injury can have long-term implications for a child’s development, it is essential to seek opinions from medical experts before settling a child injury claim.
For example, a brain injury could impact a child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. A broken bone could impact a child’s growth or result in a permanent physical impairment.
Children are entitled to compensation for future damages. Future damages can include medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages caused by a permanent impairment. In addition to medical experts, economists and other financial professionals are consulted to determine the economic losses associated with the impairment.
What Happens to the Money Received for a Child Injury Claim?
The amount of compensation your child receives must be held in a special account until your child reaches 18 years of age. When your child turns 18, the money is released to your child.
A judge may need to approve a settlement agreement to ensure that the agreement is in the child’s best interest. The judge may also issue an order stating what type of account must be used to hold the money on behalf of the child.
Suppose you have medical bills you incurred because of the injury or other expenses related to the child’s injury. In that case, you can petition the court for permission to use some of the money for payment of or reimbursement for expenses. However, using the money without court permission could result in legal troubles for you.
Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Lawsuits for Children
The deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit varies by the type of claim. For most personal injury claims, the New York Statute of Limitations for filing lawsuits is three years from the injury date. The deadline could be much shorter when a government entity is involved.
The deadline for filing lawsuits for cases involving children are different. Because a child cannot legally file a lawsuit as a minor, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is tolled until the child reaches 18 years of age. Therefore, child injury lawsuits can be filed up to three years after the child reaches 18 years of age.
However, there are exceptions. The statute of limitations for filing child injury claims related to medical malpractice, dental malpractice, or birth injuries could differ. Also, cases involving government entities could have a different deadline for filing lawsuits.
It is always wise to seek legal advice as soon as possible after an injury to your child. A lawyer reviews the claim and calculates the deadlines for filing claims and lawsuits. Knowing these deadlines is essential for protecting your child’s right to recover compensation for injuries and damages caused by liable parties.
What Should You Do if Your Child Sustains an Injury?
The primary focus is on medical attention. Prompt medical treatment reduces the risk of life-threatening complications and long-term disabilities. Immediate medical attention also helps with a personal injury claim.
Insurance companies use delays in medical treatment to allege that its insured did not cause your child’s injury. While it is still possible to win a personal injury case if you did not seek immediate medical care for your child, delays in care can complicate the case.
Collect and preserve as much evidence as possible regarding your child’s injury. Take pictures of the accident scene and your child’s injuries. If a defective product caused your child’s injury, secure the product, including all packing, instructions, and documents.
Report the injury as soon as possible. Calling 911 after a motor vehicle accident or dog bite creates a police report. If your child is injured on another party’s property or at school, report the injury to the property owner or manager.
Keeping copies of all documentation, reports, and records related to the accident and injury. Make careful notes of each conversation you have with doctors and other parties.
It is also best to avoid talking to an insurance adjuster or other person representing the at-fault party until after talking with a personal injury lawyer. Do not agree to provide statements or allow your child to answer questions about the injury. Anything you or your child says could be used in your case to dispute fault and liability for the claim.
Contact a New York Child Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Protect your child’s legal rights by getting the information you need about injury claims from a trusted legal advocate for childhood injuries. Call our law firm to schedule your free consultation with a New York child injury lawyer to discuss your child’s injury claim.