Cuts, scrapes, even stitches and broken bones, are a normal part of childhood. Most parents learn to deal with these mishaps with their equilibrium intact.
It is a different matter entirely when a child suffers a severe injury due to someone else’s negligence. Many parents in that situation find their anger at the perpetrator as difficult to handle as the suffering of their child.
If your family is dealing with this situation, an Anaheim child injury lawyer could help you find justice. Holding negligent parties accountable by pursuing damages can bring a family some closure and peace of mind.
Children get hurt in a variety of ways, but the most common types of accidents that cause severe childhood injury include:
Other frequent causes of childhood injury include medical malpractice and sports injuries.
Negligence could be at the root of many of these accidents. Negligence occurs when someone fails to use the degree of care necessary to protect others, and someone is injured as a result. Because children are still developing and are unable to assess risk for themselves, adults have a heightened obligation to protect them from harm.
Property owners must protect children from attractive nuisances like pools, sandpits, or trampolines. Manufacturers must anticipate the way a child might misuse a product and take steps to ensure such misuse will not harm them. Schools and recreational facilities that cater to children must provide a safe experience. A failure to do so could leave these entities liable to an injured child’s family or damages. An attorney could investigate the circumstances surrounding an accident to identify negligent, potentially liable parties.
Minors may not bring lawsuits on their own behalf in California. If a child’s injury was the result of someone else’s negligence, a legal guardian could put forward the claim for damages on the child’s behalf. However, the guardian is not a party to the suit and is not entitled to any recovery.
If a settlement is agreed upon before a case goes to trial, the child and the guardian must appear at a hearing before a judge. The judge must assure that the settlement is in the child’s best interests before it will be approved. In making that determination the court will consider the extent of the child’s injury and permanent disability, if any, as well as the amount of the settlement, the attorney’s fees, and the way the settlement will be disbursed.
Settlement funds or damage awards are for the benefit of the child. They are often placed in blocked accounts, which are accounts that the child may access in full once they turn 18. Any other access requires a court order. If the family needs to access the child’s funds to provide appropriate care, there are trust instruments that could be set up to handle the funds. A seasoned attorney could advise a family on the arrangement that would best meet their child’s needs.
The California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1 requires injured people to bring claims seeking damages within two years of the date of their injury. This two-year period also applies to parents or guardians bringing suit on behalf of a child.
In some circumstances, when an older child suffers an injury, it could make sense for the child to bring a claim on their own behalf when they turn 18. The statute of limitations does not begin running until the injured minor reaches the age of majority. However, because of concerns about evidence getting lost or stale, and because families might require proceeds from a claim to help support the child, an injury lawyer might suggest it is most beneficial for the guardian to claim on behalf of the child.
Seeking justice for harm done to a child requires sensitivity and fortitude. Families must receive a settlement that will enable them to provide the care the child needs and the best quality of life possible.
An experienced Anaheim child injury lawyer could help a family navigate that difficult process. Schedule a consultation as soon as possible.
Benji Personal Injury – Accident Attorneys, A.P.C.