Any type of personal injury can cause serious physical and emotional trauma. When children are injured in an accident, the repercussions can be even more traumatic. When children are intentionally abused or neglected, the psychological damage may scar them for life.
If your child has been injured, either due to someone else’s negligence, or through intentional abuse while in the care of someone else, your child may be entitled to financial compensation to support their recovery. Our child injury lawyers can help.
Our experienced child injury lawyers provide compassionate representation in cases where children have suffered physical or emotional trauma. While your current focus is on helping your child recover physically and psychologically, you can count on TorkLaw to hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. We will seek to secure a financial future for your child, with the resources available to recover from their injuries, and/or cope with abuse to which they have been subjected.
Common Causes of Child Injuries
Even when parents take every measure to prevent child injury, some accidents are simply unavoidable.
The most common cause of death for children under the age of 15 is unintentional injury. Car accidents are the most common cause of unintentional injury to children.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), deaths of children younger than 13 in motor vehicle accidents have declined since 1975. However, car accidents still cause one out of every four unintentional injury deaths. According to a recent study, between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in auto accidents nationwide, not including child pedestrians or those who died in bicycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016, 17 percent of traffic fatalities of children 14 and younger, occurred in crashes caused by driving under the influence of alcohol.
Most car accident fatalities occur among children who are traveling as passenger vehicle occupants. Most of the children who died in car accidents were not wearing seat belts or proper restraints. The IIHS says that restraining children in rear seats instead of front seats reduces the risk of fatal injuries by about three-quarters for children up to age 3 and almost half for children ages 4 to 8.
To reduce your children’s risk of injury or death in a car accident:
- Always use an age-appropriate car seat.
- Teach them to buckle up when riding in someone else’s vehicle.
- Never, ever drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, especially when there are children in your vehicle.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, children are more likely to be attacked/bitten by dogs than adults, and far more likely to suffer a serious injury. Due to their height and size, children are also more likely to suffer severe facial injuries that lead to permanent scarring. Worse, when young children are attacked by a dog, the outcome can be fatal, particularly if more than one dog is involved.
In addition to physical injuries, children also tend to suffer long-lasting psychological issues from a dog attack.
When a child is injured in a dog attack, you may be able to hold the negligent dog owner accountable for damages including medical expenses, hospitalization, cost of cosmetic surgery, scarring, disfigurement, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
If you have a dog in your home, teach your child to be gentle and not poke, tease, or strike the dog, or stick their face or hands aggressively in the dog’s face or near the dog’s mouth.
If you don’t have a dog, teach your children to always ask a dog’s owner or handler before petting or playing with a dog they don’t know.
Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pools can be a lot of fun for kids, if they are properly supervised. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2005 to 2014, an average 3,536 fatal unintentional drowning incidents occurred per year. That’s 10 deaths a day. About one in five who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. And for every child who dies from drowning, five others receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries or near-drowning.
More than 50 percent of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization and additional care. Also, these near-drowning incidents could result in severe brain damage leading to lifelong disabilities such as memory issues, learning disabilities and permanent loss of basic functioning.
The best way to prevent swimming pool accidents is proper adult supervision, and several layers of protection around the pool.
- Install a fence around your pool that is at least four feet high with a locking gate.
- Install motion sensors or alarms in the pool area so you know when there is activity around the pool. Many tragic accidents involving young children occur when they wander into the pool area and fall into the water.
- After swimming, put away the pool toys so little ones aren’t tempted to play there.
- Instruct kids of all ages not to swim alone.
- For non-swimmers, use certified life jackets vs. inflatable toys.
- Keep toddlers within arm’s length when in the water.
- Be sure an adult is actively watching kids whenever they’re in the pool.
- Act immediately if you see a swimmer that is:
- Furiously treading water with head tilted back or mouth at water level
- Gasping or hyperventilating
- Bobbing, moving downward or holding arms out to the sides
- Floating face down
- Learn CPR so you can keep the person alive until help comes.
When a child drowning or near-drowning occurs, several parties may be held accountable, depending on the nature and circumstances of the incident. In some cases, the property/pool owner where the accident occurred may be held responsible. If the accident occurs at a daycare center, field trip or some other facility where children were under the watch of staff or lifeguards, those negligent parties may be held accountable.
There are thousands of products in the marketplace for children of all ages. These products range from furniture to toys, and many are not as safe for our kids as they should be. Types of children’s products that often cause injury or death:
Cribs/Mattresses: Poorly designed cribs, mattresses, and children’s beds pose suffocation hazards.
Highchairs and seats: Improperly designed chairs can topple, leading to broken bones and head injuries.
Toys: Children’s toys that are not properly designed could have small parts that are choking hazards. Other toys that are not properly labeled regarding age appropriateness could result in eye injuries, lacerations, and other wounds. Some toys are made with toxic substances such as lead or cadmium, which, if ingested, will cause serious health complications.
Strollers: Faulty strollers have caused broken fingers and hands, even amputation of fingertips.
Car seats: Defective child car seats could fail to protect your child in the event of a car accident.
If your child has been harmed by a dangerous or defective product, you may be able to seek compensation by filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the product.
School Injuries and a School’s Liability
A school has a duty of care to its students. School administrators are responsible for ensuring they operate a safe place for children to attend. When they fail to do this, they open themselves up to a potential lawsuit.
In a school setting, there are a few areas where we see regular duty of care failures. The first is in the safety of the physical premises itself. For example:
Unsafe School Grounds: Reasonable steps should be taken to make sure that school grounds are safe and free of potential hazards to students.
- Walkways are level and free of obstructions.
- Doors, windows, and other mechanical devices function as designed.
- Safety equipment is in place and functional.
- Electrical and plumbing are free of defect and inaccessible to children.
- Guardrails and handrails are in place where necessary.
Broken Equipment: Like school grounds, reasonable steps should be taken to make sure that equipment is in good working order too. This can include classroom equipment like chairs, desks, and power strips; and play equipment used by students at recess. It can also include equipment designed to keep students safe – like fencing around a pool.
When defective or poorly maintained equipment or grounds result in a child’s injury, the school can be held liable.
The second type of duty of care failure we often see is sexual abuse of children by school staff. The individual perpetrating the abuse, the school leadership, and the school district can all be liable for their part in putting student(s) in situations where a member of the school staff exploited them.
Finally, we see failure by schools to enforce policies and procedures that were written to protect students.
Daycare Injuries and Abuse
Across the country, millions of children are dropped off at a daycare facility every day. Like schools, day care facilities have a duty to care for the children left in their charge. While most daycare centers keep our kids safe and well-cared for, some do not – resulting in injuries and abuse of children.
Accidental injuries: While some injuries will occur despite taking all the right precautionary steps, others may be the result of poorly maintained facilities or equipment, or inadequate or improper supervision.
Falling is the leading cause of injuries to children at daycare. It is common for kids to receive cuts, scrapes, and bruises through ordinary play, and these injuries are not necessarily a cause for concern. However, severe injuries like broken bones, broken teeth, head injuries, spinal injuries and internal trauma should may signal a potential issue at the facility.
Prevention is by far the most effective way to keep your children safe. When dropping your child off, look for signs of neglect, understaffing and potential hazards that could result in drowning, choking, suffocation, or accidental poisoning.
If your childcare provider has failed to do everything in their power to protect your child, and their negligence or lack of supervision results in an injury to your child, a potential civil claim can be made against them.
Intentional injuries: Thankfully, intentional injuries to children at day care centers are rare, but when they do happen, the outcome can be physically and emotionally devastating for the entire family. These types of incidents often tend to occur in centers that are understaffed or where the staff has not been properly trained or vetted.
If your child comes home with unexplained or repeated injuries such as bruises or burn marks, it might indicate abuse. If you suspect that your child is being physically or sexually abused at his or her daycare, it is important that you contact the local police department to file a complaint.
What Constitutes Child Abuse?
Child abuse refers to any type of act that puts a child’s physical and/or emotional health and development in jeopardy. The abuse of the child could range from physical or sexual abuse to emotional abuse and neglect.
Physical abuse: This includes any type of abuse that results in non-accidental injury to the child. Acts of physical abuse include kicking, shaking, hitting, punching, burning, or purposely causing any other type of bodily injury.
Emotional abuse: This occurs when the abuser does something to harm the mental health and social development of the child. Examples of emotional abuse include use of vulgar language (often directed at the child), shouting or yelling, name-calling, berating and withholding affection.
Sexual abuse: This refers to any sexual act that occurs between the adult and child such as showing sexual material to the child (games, pictures, movies), forcing the child to watch sexual acts, exhibitionism, and engaging in manual or oral sex or sexual intercourse.
Neglect: When it comes to children, neglect is also a form of abuse. It occurs when a caregiver fails to provide children with what they need physically or to develop mentally. Examples of child neglect include inadequate supervision, unsafe housing, inadequate clothing or food, poor hygiene, and negligent medical care.
Child Injury Lawyers: Damages in Child Injury Cases
If your child has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentionally abused by a malicious individual, you may be able to recover financial compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, cost of psychological counseling, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Our experienced child injury lawyers at TorkLaw are passionate advocates for the rights of children who have been injured or abused. We will fight hard to hold the individuals, entities, organizations, or corporations that caused your child’s injuries accountable for their actions and/or negligence. Call us to find out how we can help obtain maximum compensation for your losses and hold that at-fault parties accountable.