Protecting your children from harm is an instinctual and innate responsibility that parents have. When parents are unable to prevent their child from being injured, it feels like it goes against nature. Seeing your child suffer from a scrape is enough to make some mothers cry. Watching your child suffer harm due to an accident that could have been prevented is devastating. If your child has suffered injuries at the hands of a careless, negligent or reckless individual, you may be entitled to damages. Call the law offices of The Reiff Law Firm to discuss your claim with an experienced Philadelphia child injury attorney.
Common Child Accidents and Injuries
Children are still developing, which places them at heightened risk for a wide range of injuries. An accident that might merely injure an adult could prove lethal to a child.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “On average, 12,175 children 0 to 19 years of age died each year in the United States from an unintentional injury.” In addition to thousands of fatal injuries, “An estimated 9.2 million children annually had an initial emergency department visit for an unintentional injury,” with boys more likely than girls to sustain fatal or nonfatal injuries.
The CDC also reports that leading causes of death or injury differ across age groups. Fatal injuries were most likely to be caused by suffocation, drowning, or car accidents. Most nonfatal childhood injuries were caused by one of the following:
- Ages 0 to 9 years old – Accidental falls, animal bites, being struck by objects
- Ages 10 to 14 years old – Accidental falls, being struck by objects, overexertion
- Ages 15 to 19 years old – Being struck by objects, accidental falls, auto accidents
Children are more susceptible to accidents than adults due to their lack of world experience. They do not have the same appreciation for risk than an average adult would, which puts them in vulnerable positions if they are not careful. Some accidents that have caused child injuries include:
- Birth injuries
- Slip and falls
- Bicycle accidents
- Dog bites
- Daycare abuse and accidents
- Car accidents
- School bus accidents
- Firearm injuries
- Swimming and drowning accidents
- Defective product injuries
- Park and playground accidents
- Injuries due to negligent supervision
- Pedestrian injuries
- Sports injuries
- Trampoline injuries
- Fire injuries
- Prescription medication error
Even the most protective parents can experience injuries to their children. Watching every move a person makes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is almost impossible. Most parents have to work, and they do not have much control over the care of their children when they are at school or at their friends’ houses. Common injuries that are associated with accidents involving children include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bruising and scarring
- Shaken baby syndrome
- Mental and emotional anguish
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit on Behalf of my Injured Child?
Children who are under the age of 18 are considered minors and do not have the legal capacity to file lawsuits by themselves. Pennsylvania law requires that in cases where a minor is injured, a parent or guardian must file a personal injury suit on the child’s behalf. Pennsylvania’s applicable statute, 231 Pa. Code Rule 2027, provides that when a minor is party to an action they must be represented by a parent or guardian who will “supervise and control the conduct of the action in behalf of the minor.” Minors who are seeking compensation for less than $12,000 in damages do not need the representation of a parent or guardian when they appear before a magisterial district judge. Typically, $12,000 is not enough to cover medical costs and other expenses in child injury cases, and thus, injured children will require the representation of a parent or guardian.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a 2 year statute of limitations for child injury cases. It is important to note that it is applied differently than personal injury suits for adults. The statute of limitations in child injury lawsuits does not expire until 2 years after the minor turns 18 years old.
Can I Sue a School or Daycare if My Child Gets Injured?
The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of your child’s accident and the resulting injuries. In Pennsylvania, schools and daycares are held to extremely rigorous safety standards when it comes to protecting children. When a child or teen is injured, various parties may be liable, such as public schools, private schools, daycare centers, summer camps, amusement parks, bus companies, or their individual employees. If your child was injured because a person or business was negligent (which means careless) or reckless (which means acting without regard for risks), you may have grounds to file a lawsuit or injury claim against the parties at fault.
Pennsylvania observes a legal doctrine known as the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, which often arises in injury lawsuits involving children or toddlers. Under Pennsylvania’s attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners may be deemed liable for accidents involving hazardous features or conditions that “attract” children, such as swimming pools and trampolines. Other examples of “attractive nuisances” can include jungle gyms, discarded freezers or refrigerators, abandoned vehicles, lawn maintenance equipment, and water features like fountains or ponds. Even if the child was trespassing on the owner’s property, the attractive nuisance doctrine may still apply.
Establishing Fault in a Child Injury Case
Typically, parents and guardians of injured children pursue personal injury claims based on a negligence theory. In order for a parent or guardian to succeed in a personal injury case on behalf of their child, they must establish four essential elements. These elements are:
- The at-fault party owed a legal duty of care to the child;
- The at-fault party breached the legal duty of care to the child;
- The breach was the cause of the child’s injuries; and
- As a result, the child suffered damages.
Our Lawyers Can Help if Your Child Was Injured in Philadelphia
Watching your child suffer from severe injuries is an excruciating experience for parents and guardians. At times, you can feel helpless especially if your child continues to suffer from pain stemming from the accident. Medical expenses, physical therapy bills, and surgery costs can cost parents of injured children thousands of dollars. These expenses can put a serious strain on parents who have to not only pay for their injured child’s expenses but also for the costs of caring for their other children.
If your child has been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, do not wait any longer to contact an attorney. A skilled Philadelphia child injury attorney can give you sound advice on what your legal options are going forward. Child injury cases can be complex and nuanced, and retaining a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney who has extensive trial experience is an essential tool for maximum recovery. The child injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm are particularly sensitive to these types of cases, and they fight tenaciously so that injured children can be justly compensated for the harm they have suffered. Call the personal injury attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 246-9000 and schedule a free and confidential consultation with an attorney who will fight for the legal rights of your child.