No parent wants to see their child hurt. In fact, most parents will do everything they can to make sure their children have as safe a life as possible. Sadly, children are small and fragile. Even with cautious parenting, kids can still become catastrophically injured, and may even be left with life-long disabilities as a result.
In these tragic cases, many parents find themselves worrying about how they can provide for their child with expensive medical bills beginning to mount. Thankfully, you may have more options for financial recovery than you realize.
The Elements of a Child Injury Claim
Just as there are certain elements that must be present in an adult injury claim for it to be viable, there must also be certain elements in a child injury claim. Without these elements, you do not have a claim and may not be able to recover compensation. When you are considering whether a child injury claim is the right path for your family, you should be sure there was:
A duty of care: This means that the liable party had a legal duty to keep your child reasonably safe.
A breach of duty: The legal duty that the liable party had was breached through that party’s negligence.
Causation: The breach of duty then led to an accident. For example, if your child was crossing the street and a driver neglected to stop, hitting your child.
A resulting injury: The accident caused injuries to your child, whether major or minor.
If your child’s injury case has all of these elements, then you have a strong case and will likely be able to recover damages. Don’t give up hope if your case seems to be missing an element, however. You should first speak to an attorney who can examine the situation and help you determine what your options are. There may be some details that you overlooked or missed.
Who Can Be Liable
At the end of the day, anyone who owed your child a duty of care could be considered liable if they broke that duty and caused your child’s injury as a result. This can include practically anyone, such as:
- Other parents
- Business owners
Yes, even some strangers owe your child a duty of care. For example, drivers always owe those around them on the road a duty of care. If a driver hit your child, whether he was crossing the street or the passenger in another car, then that driver has broken their duty of care toward your child. Any resulting injuries could be considered the driver’s fault, and so you would be able to file a claim against them.
Adult Injury Claims vs. Child Injury Claims
However, there are big differences between how a child injury claim proceeds and how an adult injury claim proceeds. First of all, an adult is usually able to file a claim for himself, as in he is the one in control of his case. Adults are assumed to have enough judgment and independence to manage a legal claim. Children, on the other hand, are developing. They have yet to completely form the ability to understand the world and make their own decisions. Due to that, children cannot file their own claims. Instead, an adult must do it for them. This adult must be approved by the court, and will usually be one of the child’s parents. This adult will have control over the case and negotiating power, not the child.
Second, the statute of limitations for a typical personal injury case is just two years from the date of the injury or accident. Typically, someone who is injured will have only two years to begin the claims process. In a child injury case, however, the statute of limitations is put on hold until the child reaches the age of 18 and is considered a legal adult. After that point, the statute of limitations starts running, and the 18-year-old will usually have two years to file their claim. Up until that point, the parents are free to file a claim on their child’s behalf, no matter how long it has been since the accident. For example, if your child was injured in a slip-and-fall at a grocery store when he was five, you will have 13 years to file the claim. If you wait those 13 years, then your child will still have two years after that.
When Your Child is Hurt
We never recommend waiting file your claim, however. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that key evidence will spoil and become lost or unusable. That will hinder your child’s chances of receiving proper compensation.
If your child has been severely hurt by someone else’s negligence, then your first step should be to contact an experienced child injury claim attorney at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. Out team has the expertise you need to get as high a settlement as possible for your child. To contact our firm and set up a free consultation, call (719) 401-0585 today.