Minor injuries are a common part of childhood, but sometimes a young person is severely injured because of someone else’s negligence. In that case, parents need a knowledgeable professional to rely on for advice. A seasoned DuBois personal injury attorney could explain the ins and outs of bringing a lawsuit against the negligent parties responsible for your child’s injuries.
As a parent, you could sue for damages on your child’s behalf, as well as seek damages for the losses you suffered as the person charged with meeting your child’s needs – such as medical bills for which you, as the parent, are responsible. It is smart to speak with a DuBois child injury lawyer as soon after your child’s accident as possible so that you preserve all possible legal options.
Recovering Damages for a Childhood Injury
The money a plaintiff in a lawsuit might collect from a defendant is called damages. The damages a parent might receive for an injury to his or her child differs from the damages an adult might collect.
Parents receive damages for those expenses they must pay in their roles as the child’s caregivers. In some situations, a parent could also receive damages for emotional distress which arises from witnessing the child’s injury and suffering. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the parents of a severely injured child might expect to receive damages for:
- Injury-related medical expenses
- Costs of necessary medical support, such as home care, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other services
- Mental health care for themselves and the child
- Home renovations or vehicle alterations to accommodate the child’s injury
- Projected cost of injury-related medical care and support until the child turns 18
- Income lost due to needing to care for the child
- Mental anguish of witnessing the child’s suffering at the accident scene
- Loss of the child’s companionship
Like an adult, a child is entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, lost opportunities, disability, diminished ability to enjoy life, and other results of the injury. He or she also could seek compensation for reduced earning capacity if the effects of the injury limit his or her ability to earn a living, and for future projected costs of medical care and support. However, a child under the age of 18 does not have the legal capacity to bring, so a child’s claim must be brought by and through the parent or legal guardian. The issues around damages that arise in child injury cases are complex and fact-specific; parents are well-advised to consult a DuBois lawyer for advice about how best to proceed.
Court Supervises Child’s Settlement
Injury claims often settle out of court before a trial. If parents choose to accept a settlement on behalf of their child, the law requires a judge to approve it before any money changes hands. This law, Pa. R. Civ. P. 2039 ensures that settlement funds are adequate to meet the child’s needs. It also protects a child’s funds by allowing parents access to the money only in specific circumstances which will benefit the child – such as expenses for medical or educational purposes.
In many cases, no one has access to the money until the child turns 18 at which point he or she will gain control of the funds. However, if a dependent child’s medical condition requires continuing care, the court might give parents a right of access to the funds with safeguards in place to protect the child’s interests. A DuBois attorney with experience in child injury matters could explain the options for handling the child’s settlement.
Does a Child’s Age Matter in a Personal Injury Claim?
Fault is often a contentious issue in personal injury cases. Injured people may not collect any damages if their own negligent acts or omissions are more than 50 percent responsible for causing the injuries. Negligent plaintiffs who are not primarily to blame for their injuries could collect reduced damages from negligent defendants.
Defendants have a strong financial incentive to shift responsibility for an accident onto the injured party. Fortunately, the law protects injured children from this tactic. Children seven years old and younger cannot be found comparatively negligent.
Children between the ages of eight and 14 could be partially responsible for their injuries but will not be held to the same standards as adults; a child in the 8-14 age range will be compared to an average child of that same age. The law offers teens 15 and older less protection, but an injury attorney could raise a teen’s incomplete brain development and other factors to persuade a court that his or her fault was minimal.
Speak with a DuBois Child Injury Attorney Immediately
The agony of seeing your child suffer could be intensified if financial challenges keep you from providing everything he or she might need. Damages from the responsible party could help ensure your child’s long-term safety and security.
Child injury claims require complex decision-making, and the earlier you begin considering your options, the better. Contact an experienced DuBois child injury lawyer at Marcus & Mack today.