Children getting hurt in an accident caused by a negligent adult is the worst nightmare of almost every parent. Even if your child ultimately recovers completely in a physical sense, the emotional and psychological scars of serious personal injuries can last for a lifeline—to say nothing of the physical disabilities and disfigurements that particularly catastrophic accidents can cause.
If your child recently suffered because someone else acted recklessly or carelessly around them, state law allows you to work with a personal injury attorney to file suit for damages on your child’s behalf. To give yourself the best odds of success with your case, though, it may be a good idea to seek out a Rialto child injury lawyer who has helped families like yours through similar situations before.
Anyone who owes an implicit or explicit duty of care to other adults also owes the same duty to children—or in some cases, an even greater duty. For example, property owners generally cannot be held civilly liable for injuries suffered by adult trespassers on their land, but they could potentially bear liability for harm to a child trespasser if an unsecured attractive nuisance was what led to the child’s injuries.
As a result, a civil lawsuit or settlement demand based on an injury to a minor may seek restitution for many of the same types of losses that would crop up in a case with an adult plaintiff, such as medical expenses, damage to personal property, physical pain, and emotional anguish. Furthermore, if a child suffers a debilitating injury in an accident caused by someone else, it may be crucial to seek compensation for future damages like loss of earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life. A Rialto child injury attorney could help clarify what kinds of damages could be factored into a particular claim and seek comprehensive recovery for every one of them.
Aside from the long-term view that recovery efforts often must take, there are also several procedural ways in which child injury cases differ from typical personal injury claims. Perhaps most importantly, since minor children cannot represent their own best interests in court, state law requires that the court overseeing the case appoint a guardian ad litem—typically but not always the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s)—to advocate on the child’s behalf. In the same vein, the two-year filing deadline for personal injury claims is typically tolled for a child injury case until the child in question’s 18th birthday.
Additionally, if a child injury case ends with an out-of-court settlement, a court generally must review the settlement offer in a compromise hearing to ensure it is fair and in the child’s best interests before the agreement can be formalized. Furthermore, the funds from such a settlement usually must be put into either a “blocked account” that releases the funds to the injured child once they turn 18 or into an annuity with scheduled payments over several years after the child turns 18.
Finally, child injury cases that proceed to court often function differently from typical personal injury claims, to ensure an underage injury victim is not made to feel uncomfortable or manipulated during court proceedings. A child injury lawyer in Rialto could explain in further detail how the litigation process will likely work in a specific situation.
Injuries to children can be grounds for civil litigation just like injuries to adults can, but there are several ways in which the two types of claims differ from each other. Accordingly, working with a legal professional who is familiar with child injury cases is often key to effectively and efficiently pursuing restitution.
A conversation with a Rialto child injury should be your priority after your child receives needed medical treatment for an injury caused by someone else. Call today to schedule your consultation.
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