Brooklyn Child Injury Lawyer
Parents worry about their children’s safety—and for good reason. There are many hazards that can injure your child, whether out on the road or at school. If your child was hurt, you might bring a claim for compensation against the person responsible for their injuries. Special rules often apply to child injury cases, so you need an attorney experienced with this type of claim. Contact The O’Connor Law Firm right away. In a free consultation, our Brooklyn child injury lawyer can answer any questions you have and review the possibility of a lawsuit.
How Children Are Injured
A child can suffer injuries almost anywhere. At our Brooklyn injury firm, we have helped families when their child is injured in the following:
- Playground accidents. Children can suffer injuries when defective equipment doesn’t work as expected or your child is injured due to lax adult supervision. Some children are even attacked or abducted by strangers.
- School and daycare accidents. When parents drop their children off, they expect adults to keep them safe. Sadly, many schools and daycares experience serious accidents stemming from dangerous conditions on the premises, inadequate staffing, violence, or a lack of care.
- Car accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 63,000 children under age 13 are injured each year in car accidents. Young children can suffer especially serious injuries if a safety or booster seat fails to work as expected.
- Bicycle accidents. Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for most children. However, they can suffer serious injuries each year when hit by a motorist.
- Premises liability accidents. Hazardous conditions on someone’s property often injure children. For example, your child might fall into a pool or hot tub, or slip and fall in a school, business, or home. Even if your child was trespassing, they might qualify for compensation under New York law if they were drawn to the property by an attractive nuisance.
- School bus accidents. Children can suffer serious injuries when a bus collides with another vehicle or is run off the road. Children are injured when tossed around the inside of the bus or even when trying to get on or off the bus.
- Sports accidents. Children can be hurt while participating in sporting events. You might have a lawsuit if the school or league did not follow safety rules or used old equipment.
- Dog attacks. Each year, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and children are roughly 60% of the victims. Children can suffer serious physical and psychological injuries in these attacks, some of which lead to permanent disfigurement. Under New York law, you can hold dog owners liable in many instances.
- Lead poisoning. Lead paint has been illegal for decades. But many landlords haven’t removed lead paint from their properties. If ingested, lead paint can cause developmental delays and physical problems.
- Defective products. Toys, clothing, and car seats or highchairs can all fail to work safely. Children suffer serious injuries, including burns, head injuries, or brain injuries if they choke. As a concerned parent, you should hold manufacturers accountable when their dangerous products hurt your loved one.
These are the most common accidents which injure children. If you don’t know what happened, please contact O’Connor Law firm.
Can a Child Be Held Responsible for His or Her Negligence?
New York is a comparative negligence state. This means that even if you are found to be negligent to some degree, you may still recover damages from the other responsible party. However, any recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault of the injured party. For example, if a jury awards $100,000 but finds each party 50% at fault, the injured party would be compensated $50,000. Even if an injured party is 90% or more at fault, he can still recover the remaining 10% or less of the damages.
New York courts, however, have acknowledged that children need to be viewed differently. In fact, children under the age of four are conclusively presumed incapable of negligence. Children over the age of four may be deemed negligent. However, these children are not held to the same standard as adults. In fact, there is no bright line rule. A child over age four may be deemed negligent if that child fails to exercise the ordinary care that a reasonably careful child of the same age, experience, and degree of development would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. This is an important distinction. It means that a 7-year-old child cannot be judged according to the same standards that might apply to a 10-year-old child.
The standard of negligence for children is also based heavily on the child’s individual characteristics and traits. Conceivably, the actions of a special needs or mentally disabled child should only be judged based on the expected reasonable conduct by another child of the same age and/or intellectual capacity. The same goes for children who may be advanced or high functioning. High-achieving children with excellent grades should only be judged based on the expected actions of other children similarly situated.
Can A Parent Be Held Responsible for His or Her Own Child’s Injury?
Sometimes when a child has been injured in an accident, the conduct of the child’s parents is called into question. For example, an insurance company may try to blame the parents for failing to adequately supervise their child who was injured on playground equipment.
New York’s parental immunity doctrine prohibits defendants from asserting that the parent’s failure to adequately supervise their child caused or contributed to the injury. The parental immunity doctrine also prohibits direct claims between child and parent (with some exceptions). This is based upon the public policy of maintaining family tranquility and undermining parents’ control and authority over their children.
However, parental immunity does not apply to a parent’s negligent driving. This means a child is permitted to bring a claim against a parent for injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident. Likewise, another driver may bring a claim against a parent who was driving for contributing to a child’s injury.
Compensation for My Child’s Injury
Child injury cases present some unique problems when it comes to analyzing the amount of compensation you can receive. Because they are so young, children might suffer more serious, longer-lasting injuries than adults. This is true of brain injuries which can impact a child’s development. Our firm closely analyzes the full extent of an injury before deciding what is a fair amount of compensation to request.
We regularly seek compensation for:
- Your child’s past, present, and future medical care
- Rehabilitation, including learning assistance
- Parental loss of income if you missed work to take care of your child
- A child’s loss of earning capacity for permanent disabilities
- Your child’s pain and suffering
- Any property damage, like damage to your vehicle in a crash
Many factors go into analyzing the amount of compensation you can receive for a case. For example, defendants are not all the same. If an uninsured motorist strikes you, you will likely receive less compensation than if a business or school is responsible for the accident.
Another key factor is the strength of our evidence. Proving future disability is complicated. Some people automatically assume children “bounce back” from injuries and won’t need medical attention going forward. We will need medical evidence to show otherwise.
Paying for My Child’s Immediate Care
Even if you hope for a settlement, children need immediate medical care. Your child might require diagnostic tests, surgery, hospital stays, prescription medication, and rehabilitation. It might take months to settle even an “open and shut” case. In the meantime, you can probably use your family’s health insurance to pay for medical treatment. You still must pay for deductibles, copays, and other expenses. Some children need at-home help or specialized learning following an accident. You should discuss all expenses with an attorney.
Because your child was injured, most of the compensation will probably be for your children, such as damages for pain and suffering or future lost income. The settlement does not belong to you, as parents, to do with it what you want. The right attorney can structure your settlement so your expenses as parents are paid for.
Deadlines for Child Injury Lawsuits in Brooklyn
New York has a 3-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim for negligence against most defendants. However, for minors, this time limit does not begin to run until an injured child turns 18 years old. In effect, the law gives children until the age of 21 to sue for personal injuries arising out of someone’s negligence. In reality, few parents want to wait that long. You probably have significant medical expenses and other losses. Thankfully, it is possible to file a lawsuit or negotiate a claim while your child is still a minor. But you would benefit from the help of a seasoned Brooklyn child injury lawyer who knows how to bring this claim the correct way.
Claims against public entities, like the New York City Department of Education or other municipal entities, require that a notice of claim be filed on behalf of a child within 90 days of the date the claim arises. Parents must be aware that there is no tolling of this 90-day notice of claim deadline for municipal negligence claims. In fact, once the notice of claim is filed, the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit against a public entity is not 3 years, but instead shortened to 1 year and 90 days from the date the claim arose.
What to Do After a Child Accident
Your first concern, naturally, will be your child’s health. Immediately seek medical treatment, which gives your child the best chance of recovery.
Also, remember to begin documenting your child’s accident. Due to injury or fear, your child might not be the best witness about what happened. Try to find other witnesses who observed the incident. For example, if your child was injured at school, your attorney can speak to teachers, aides, and other staff who saw the accident.
You should also hold onto all medical bills and any proof of expenses tied to your child’s injury. If you need to miss work, document the amount of time.
Finding evidence of negligence is difficult. This is one reason to reach out to a Brooklyn personal injury lawyer promptly. We know how to ask schools to preserve evidence, such as teachers’ files which might show a staff member was the subject of previous complaints. All this evidence can make a difference when you negotiate a settlement.
Will My Child Have to Testify in Court?
If a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of a child, he or she may be called as a witness to testify in court. However, most cases involving children never go to trial, so the chances that a child will be forced to testify in court are extremely low.
Whether a child will be able to testify is within the discretion of the judge. That is, the judge gets to decide. Sometimes the judge will want to have a hearing to find out whether the child understands what it means to tell the truth. While it is important for a jury to meet and see a child who has been injured, I do not like calling a child to testify at trial unless the testimony is necessary to winning the case. More often than not, the facts of how the child was injured and the damages he or she sustained can be proven through other witnesses and evidence.
Speak with Our Brooklyn Child Injury Lawyer Today
Parents are rightly concerned about their children’s health. An accident is a stressful event, but legal help is available for families navigating the legal system. The O’Connor Law Firm has met with many parents over the years whose children were hurt. They have many questions and no idea of how to find answers. This is one of the reasons attorney Brian J. O’Connor offers a free copy of The NYC Child Injury Book – a parent’s guide to child accidents and the legal process. We can help. In a free consultation, we can review what you know and discuss whether you have a valid legal claim. Please call us today to get started.