Everyone wants to protect their children from harm, but that is not always possible—sometimes, accidents happen. But what should never happen is an injury to your child due to someone else’s carelessness or recklessness. Such injuries can be severe and can leave scars on your child’s psyche long after the visible wounds have healed.
When your child has been hurt by someone else’s negligence, a Somerset child injury lawyer can help manage your case. Our diligent personal injury attorneys will fight for the fair compensation your child deserves.
Often, injuries to children occur in part because the child was somewhere he or she should not have been, playing with something he or she should not have been, or not sufficiently aware of his or her surroundings.
In general, for an injury to an adult, if the adult’s actions contributed to his or her injuries, then his or her recovery may be reduced in proportion to his or her fault under Pennsylvania’s contributory negligence laws in 42 P.S. § 7102. For example, if an adult is hit by a speeding car, he or she may be able to recover the costs of medical expenses. Assume those bills total $10,000. If the adult was jaywalking at the time, the jury could find that the adult was also negligent, and was 35 percent responsible for his or her own injuries. Therefore, the adult would recover only $6,500, because that $10,000 loss would be reduced by the victim’s own 35% of fault.
However, children under seven cannot be negligent under Pennsylvania law. No matter what the child was doing leading up to the injury, his or her recovery will not be reduced because of those actions. Children between the ages of seven and fourteen are initially assumed not to be negligent, but that presumption may be overturned in some rare circumstances. Even if an older child is found to have some responsibility for his or her injuries, it will be based on how a child of the same age should have acted, not how an adult would have acted.
A seasoned Somerset lawyer who specializes in handling cases involving minors can provide more information on how these rules may apply and impact your specific case.
Generally, 42 P.S. § 5524 provides that an injured person must file a lawsuit to recover for her injuries within two years of the date the injury occurred. However, the law does not apply in the same way to children as to adults.
42 P.S. § 5533 states that if an injury occurs to a child, the remaining period of time that he or she is under the age of majority (18 years) does not count towards the deadline. That is, the two-year limitations period will not begin to run until the injured child turns 18, meaning that the child has until his or her 20th birthday to file suit.
This rule accounts for the fact that children may not always understand or be able to communicate what has happened to them right away. The statute also allows for more time to pass so that the full extent of the injury to the child can be understood. Further, children are not permitted to file their own claims, but instead, a child’s claim must be filed through the parent or legal guardian acting on the child’s behalf.
Speaking to a child injury attorney in Somerset as soon as possible is still the best course of action, even with these extensions to the statute of limitations. Even if the child has years to file a lawsuit, obtaining, documenting, and preserving evidence soon after the injury remains of paramount importance.
When your child suffers injuries because of another person’s carelessness or recklessness, you have a big enough burden to make sure that your child recovers—both physically and emotionally. You do not need the additional stress of worrying about how you will pay for medical bills or negotiating with insurance companies.
Marcus & Mack