Accidental Injury, Abuse or Death of Children
When a child is injured or killed in an accident or is the victim of abuse, the consequences are devastating. Although the injured child’s situation is worst, the life of every family member suddenly is thrown out of control - whether it involves school, work, transportation, or recreation. I know this because for over 20 years I’ve helped injured kids and their families cope and recover.
One of the primary reasons I changed my practice in 1991 after spending 11½ years working for insurance companies and corporations was the fact I hated working against kids and their families. For over 20 years, it’s been my privilege to meet families and help them recover full, fair compensation when their children have suffered injury or been killed. I’ve helped real people work to make the best recovery possible from terrible losses. Since money cannot completely restore their losses, we have also tried to make things safer so other families won’t have to suffer.
The law that applies when a child under 18 is injured or killed is much more complicated than the law that applies when an adult is injured. There are actually two separate claims when a child is injured:
1. The child is entitled to recover compensation for pain and suffering, permanent injury, and medical expenses or lost earnings that will continue after the child turns 18; and
2. The parents are entitled to recover for medical expenses and some other expenses they must pay until their child turns 18.
Different “statutes of limitation” apply to the child’s claim and the parent’s claim. “Statutes of limitation” are laws that cause people to lose their rights just by the passing of time. When a child is injured, parents can lose their rights if they do not act quickly. When this happens, huge amounts the parents can recover in compensation (i.e., the expenses of medical, therapy, tutoring, etc.) go unreimbursed.
“Contributory negligence” is a harsh law which allows those who cause accidents and their insurance companies to keep injured victims from receiving any compensation. Contributory negligence is so unfair it does not apply in 46 of the 50 states. North Carolina is 1 of the 4 states which has contributory negligence, and it is complicated because the law applies differently to adults and children. Contributory negligence does not apply when a child younger than seven is injured, killed or abused. When a child is between the ages of seven and fourteen, contributory negligence only applies in limited circumstances. In order to protect children, it is critical for parents to hire a lawyer who understands this law and who has experience getting clients recovery when contributory negligence is raised by insurance companies.
Childrens’ permanent injuries often have long-term consequences that can be overlooked or which do not become apparent for months or years. For example, some injuries affect growth plates in bones which are still growing. Brain injuries suffered at an early age may affect a child’s ability to learn, function and develop once they reach school age; other brain injuries affect behavior after a child reaches adolescence. Children have amazing abilities to compensate and overcome some injuries if they get the proper care as early as possible. Unfortunately if care is not received soon enough, it may be too late to make the maximum recovery. Your family needs an attorney who has real experience to work with you to make sure doctors, therapists, educators, life care planners, and other professionals are consulted if necessary so your child can make his or her best recovery.
North Carolina courts require that all settlements involving child injuries be reviewed and court-approved. Insurance companies often “offer” to help families through this process by hiring an insurance lawyer to go to the court for approval. That is the type help you don’t need because the insurance company’s goal is to “help” families give away their children’s rights for a fraction of what is fair.
When a child is permanently injured and there is a settlement or verdict, it is still important to protect the funds so that, if possible, the money will not run out. It’s important to make sure money meant to take care of the child’s needs is protected from theft even after the parents are no longer around. Careful planning is necessary, so you need a lawyer who has experience helping families protect their children and provide for lifetime care.
Whether your child is injured in a motor vehicle or school bus accident; at a daycare or after school program; as the result of premises liability (i.e. unsafe playground, store or restaurant); as the result of abuse or a criminal act; by an unsafe product designed for children; or by a dog bite or animal attack the result is the same. For help understanding your rights and how to cope, please call 919-784-9007 or e-mail for a free, private consultation.
Dog Bites & Pet Injuries
Many young children are severely injured by dogs, cats, horses and other pets and domestic animals. There is often a way to recover compensation. Generally, a child cannot get compensation when the animal belongs to the child’s family.
Dogs often bite babies and toddlers in the face, and those attacks often cause infection and leave permanent scars. In many cases, scars that are left after the wound closes need to be revised by plastic surgeons. Multiple operations may be necessary since every person heals differently and scars change and mature as children get older. In order to get fair compensation if your child is scarred, it is essential for your attorney to research treatment options and meet with your child’s doctors so your child’s medical needs can be proven to insurance companies and the jury.
Children and their parents may have the right to recover compensation for animal attacks because owners either keep pets and animals after they have attacked people or because the animals are not kept confined when young children are around. North Carolina law regarding injuries and deaths caused by animals is very complicated. So it’s essential for you to chose an experienced lawyer who understands how to investigate and present you child’s claim.
Homeowners’, farm and business insurance policies cover most claims for injuries caused by pets and animals. Many attorneys and people do not know about this type insurance, and parents often overlook the opportunity to get compensation for their child after a dog bite or animal attack.
Proper investigation of an animal attack takes hard work by your attorney. Among other things, it’s crucial to search for records from licensing authorities and animal control officers as well as veterinarian records for the animal. If your child has been bitten or attacked by an animal, please call 919-784-9007 or email for a free consultation.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of accidental injury and death of children. Whether the accidents are caused by private passenger vehicles, tractor-trailer trucks, school buses, or commercial business vehicles, children need and deserve full compensation. When the family priority after an accident is the child’s injury, as it should be, it’s important for the family to be able to rely an experienced lawyer to take care of legal details and deal with the insurance companies.
In most accidents involving children, they are passengers. Passengers are entitled to recover compensation from all drivers who contribute to causing an accident. Sometimes families overlook making claims with their own automobile insurance companies. When a parent or family member is driving and makes a mistake which causes an accident that injures a child, the child is entitled to recover from the family’s insurance company. When investigation indicates the “family driver” caused an accident, the situation is explained before the child’s claim is presented to the insurance company.
Many injuries involve teenage passengers riding with teenage drivers. Teenagers cause many wrecks because they drive while carrying on with friends, talking on cell phones, texting, driving too fast, or simply because they do not have experience.
Tragic injuries also result from underage drinking. Sometimes families recover from the businesses which sell alcohol and those who provide alcohol to underage drinkers as well as from the drunk driver. The best way to maximize the chance you and your children will succeed is to have a prompt, thorough investigation before memories fade, stories are made up, or evidence is lost.
Call 919-784-9007 or email for a free, discrete consultation so you can know the best way to help your child.
In today’s world most parents have to work so they have to entrust their children to daycare centers, summer camps, and after-school programs. As a result many businesses have sprung up to provide child care. Most of those businesses operate for profit, and whether they operate as for-profit or non-profit, they all should carry liability insurance to protect when children are injured or killed in accidents.
When parents pay daycare centers, preschools, and other programs, they count on a place where their children will be safe. Parents depend on child care businesses and organizations to provide safe facilities and properly maintain equipment. Parents expect these businesses to carefully screen and properly train all employees who will come in contact with their kids. Parents rely that their children will not be injured because of overcrowding or inadequate supervision.
Unfortunately sometimes mistakes are made, corners are cut, or staff are out sick. Often when those things happen, children are injured or abused.
As soon as an injury, abuse or an accident occurs, the insurance company is called to begin work. Specialized insurance companies deal with these type businesses, and they train their adjusters to minimize or prevent payment. It is standard procedure for these insurance companies to send an friendly person to the child’s room at the hospital or to the family’s home to “help”.
If your child is injured, you need to act promptly to get the facts and protect the rights of your child and your right to reimbursement. Call 919-784-9007 or email for a free, no pressure consultation.
“Product liability” is a term lawyers use to describe injury and death claims caused by the unsafe design or manufacture of something whether it’s a toy, a piece of sports equipment, a car seat, an automatic garage door, a power tool, a bike, or a crib.
Designers, manufacturers and sellers of unsafe products are responsible when injuries are caused by the dangerous products. When a product is intended to be used by, or around, children, special care needs to be taken to make sure it is safe. When a product that will be used by children is manufactured, care needs to be taken to make sure that it is properly built or manufactured.
There are special, complicated laws that apply to product injury claims. For example, the time to be able to make a claim will depend on the date the product was initially sold regardless of the date of the accident. In most cases, it is essential to work with engineers and product designers to succeed in recovering compensation when a product causes an injury or death.
As soon as your child is injured by a product you believe to be unsafe, you should call 919-784-9007 or email for a free, thorough consultation. It is critical that you save and preserve the product and all parts which may have broken off of it. If you have the receipt or papers that came with the product, save those too.
“Premises liability” is a term lawyers use to describe accidents where injuries are caused by an unsafe condition of property–whether the condition is a sharp edge that should be covered, a slick surface where kids walk, an exposed electrical wire, broken playground equipment, or a toy store shelf where heavy boxes are stacked within reach of toddlers.
Many children, especially young children, are injured in premises liability accidents that easily could have been prevented. For example, many restaurants have special childrens’ areas which are improperly designed or become overcrowded. Some store shelves are not carefully arranged or stocked, and dangerous items are within reach of small children the stores know will be near the shelves. Daycares and other businesses that care for small children sometimes let kids play in areas where there are sharp edges, trip hazards, exposed hot water pipes or exposed electrical wiring and sockets. Other injuries occur because chemicals and other dangerous substances are not kept in secure places away from children. Utilities sometimes fail to lock and guard their electrical boxes or lines.
In order to help children get compensation when they are seriously injured at a business, it’s always important to gather evidence and take photographs before the condition is changed. Sometimes it may be necessary to analyze product design drawings, engineering drawings, plans, specifications, building codes or other laws and regulations. Often we work with engineers and designers to assist us to get justice for our clients and their families.
If your child is injured because of an unsafe condition of a premises, call 919-784-9007 or email for a free consultation to better understand the rights you and your child have.