If a child sustains a serious injury, the parents may feel saddled with stress about whether their child will recover, and secondarily, who could be held responsible for the carelessness that injured the child. There is no excuse for poorly maintained premises, defective products, or other things that cause accidents that harm children.
Fortunately, parents or guardians can look to legal assistance to seek financial recovery for a child's personal injury. An Alpharetta child injury lawyer could help you and your family move forward from an incident. Though nothing can turn back the clock, a skilled personal injury lawyer could help you seek financial compensation for the harm done, possibly through a personal injury lawsuit.
Types of Child Injuries
Children may be more susceptible to injury because of their small stature, fragility, and lack of familiarity with the workings of the world. Common injuries to children include:
Another category of injuries is roadway accidents. These occur when children are on foot, on bicycles, or in a car or bus. These are unfortunately common and result in both life-altering injuries and death. Motor vehicle collisions affect thousands of young people in the United States every year. The CDC estimates that in 2020, more than 63,000 children under the age of 12 were injured in a car accident. While actions such as using a car seat or booster seat until an appropriate age are used to give smaller bodies maximum protection in the event of a crash, traffic accidents are still a leading cause of fatality in children.
People or companies responsible for facilities and products intended for children's use should ensure their safety accordingly. Regrettably, this does not always happen. Some dangerous products that cause child injuries in Alpharetta include:
- Plastic toys
- Products containing lead paint or other dangerous chemicals
- Defective bikes or bike parts
- Defective seat belts and car seats
- Airbags in automobiles
- Flammable synthetics such as fabrics
- Defective drugs
If a pediatric healthcare provider breaches the duty of care or otherwise fails to deliver it according to medically accepted standards, your child could be at risk of medical malpractice. Malpractice may occur when a child undergoes surgery, treatments involving medication, or hospitalization. This type of injury may even include preventable harm that occurred during childbirth.
Damages Available in a Child Harm Personal Injury Claim
In a personal injury lawsuit, the purpose of damages is to compensate the injured child for the harm suffered. The judge or jury must weigh the evidence presented and use it to reach a damages award based on what the plaintiff has asked for.
A plaintiff can seek compensation for medical bills by presenting proof of the reasonable value of emergency, hospital, nursing, and other medical services required to treat their injuries.
The injured claimant can also recoup the cost of future medical bills, supported by evidence that the treatments will be reasonably necessary. The award is expressed as the current cash value of these services, which could include future surgeries, long-term care, physical therapy, or rehabilitative services.
Georgia allows plaintiffs, as part of the pain and suffering award, to seek hedonic damages in personal injury claims. These are intended to compensate for the loss of enjoyment of life's activities, which can be tricky to prove. An Alpharetta child injury lawyer could assist by creating a compelling case for these and help seek compensation for a child's mental anguish and physical pain resulting from the accident.
When considering what pain and suffering may be awarded, a judge or jury will look at the nature of the child's injury, age, health, and interests and pursuits. If necessary, an attorney could oversee the hiring and testimony of an expert witness, or someone familiar with the nature of the child's injuries to describe the extent and severity of the pain and suffering experienced.
Does the Two-Year Statute of Limitations Apply to Child Injuries?
According to Georgia Code § 9-3-33, plaintiffs have two years from the date of their injuries to file a personal injury claim. Injury statute of limitations for minors gets “tolled,” or extended, until the child's 18th birthday with the exception of medical malpractice. If malpractice occurred before the child's 5th birthday, their parents and attorney must file a legal claim by the 7th birthday. For malpractice after the 5th birthday, the statute of limitations is two years.
Are Children Ever Liable for Actions Resulting in Their Injuries?
Georgia uses a “tender years” doctrine to determine liability in child injury cases. Children under age 4 are considered incapable of negligence since they do not understand the consequences of assorted actions, dangerous or otherwise. However, children between the ages of 5 and 13 can be charged with negligence in certain cases, such as when they engage in “adult activities.” Common adult activities that can result in negligence charges include operating a motor vehicle or flying an airplane. Children are usually held to an adult standard of care in such cases and generally benefit from legal professional help. Adolescents aged 14 or older are also subject to adult care standards.
Does Georgia Refer to Attractive Nuisance Laws in Child Harm Cases?
Attractive nuisances refer to areas of residential or commercial property that can attract young children. Kids do not understand the dangers because they are still developing cognitively, which their attorneys typically emphasize. Common attractive nuisances include swimming pools, construction dirt piles, man-made ponds and fountains, farming equipment, large holes, and high-voltage towers.
The Supreme Court of Georgia holds property owners liable in attractive nuisance cases if five factors apply. These factors include the child not realizing the risk involved due to their youth and inexperience, such as playing around an unfenced swimming pool. Other factors include the property owner reasonably knowing children would likely trespass, and that bodily harm or death could result. The property owner should have also taken steps to remove the attractive nuisance, but failed to do so and put the child's life in danger.
How Alpharetta Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
If your child was seriously injured, you'll no doubt need to devote your time and attention to providing them with as much care as possible. You may need to take time off of work in order to attend to the needs of your family members, resulting in lost wages. Your right to pursue compensation should not be forgotten, as a financial recovery could be instrumental in helping you and your family move forward after a traumatic event.
An Alpharetta personal injury lawyer who specializes in child harm cases can help you determine what your legal options are during an initial consultation. If your lawyer decides that pursuing a personal injury claim is in your best interests, your dedicated attorney will do the following:
Investigate Your Case in Detail
Your attorney will attempt to understand the unique circumstances of your child's injuries by recovering as much information as possible about the case. This process might include acquiring witness testimonies, medical records, and other information that might prove invaluable in building a strong claim for compensation. Your lawyer can also help determine from who you may be able to recover compensation in the event that multiple liable parties exist.
Complete Paperwork and The Claims Process
Understanding the legal proceedings of a personal injury claim can be daunting for a family member with the responsibility of helping the injured child recover. Your lawyer will ensure that you are kept abreast of your case as it develops and will help you understand your legal rights.
Communicate With the Insurance Company
Your lawyer understands exactly how insurance policies and coverage may affect your child's injury claim. A skilled child injury lawyer will work to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for these injuries and identify all possible lines of coverage.
If Necessary, Provide Legal Representation
Most personal injury cases settle out of court. However, in the event that another legal action is necessary, your attorney can advise you as to the next steps. If necessary, your attorney is prepared to provide to represent your claim in a court of law.
Contact an Alpharetta Child Injury Attorney Today
Learning the news about your child's injury can be the worst moment in a parent's life. It is undeniably stressful and anxiety-inducing. Consulting a lawyer could be helpful in swiftly resolving legal issues and helping you and your family move forward.
Our team of dedicated Alpharetta personal injury attorneys takes child harm seriously. We understand that personal injury cases involving young people affect not just children, but whole families and communities. An attorney could empathize with your family's difficult situation and help you seek compensation that can be vital to getting your life back on track. Call an Alpharetta child injury lawyer today to explore your legal options.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take to Settle?
It's impossible to say how long a personal injury claim will take to settle. The timeline of your case will depend on factors such as the circumstances of the injuries, the parties involved, and how willing they are to agree to a settlement. Your attorney can help you understand the process of your claim and prepare you for what you can expect regarding the stages of its proceedings.
Can I Afford a Child Injury Lawyer?
We believe that everyone deserves accessible legal assistance. Our law firm uses a contingency fee basis to ensure that our clients get access to the quality legal care they deserve. Your lawyer's fees will be deducted from your settlement award, which means that they don't get paid until you do.
How is Settlement Money Awarded to a Minor?
The process of awarding a settlement to someone under the age of 18 in Georgia depends will depend on the amount of the settlement. According to a recently amended Title 29, for awards under $25,000, the settlement can be issued directly to the child's parent. For awards greater than $25,000, court approval must be given by a judge. Depending on the circumstances, a payout could then involve a structured settlement plan for the child to receive the full amount over an appropriate timespan. Your attorney can help you understand how these factors may influence your claim for compensation and work with you to develop a strategy that will best benefit your child.