CHILD INJURY ATTORNEYS
The Hard Reality of Children’s Injuries
If you are a parent, then you know that few events in life are more traumatic than an injury to your child. We’re supposed to protect our children; keep them safe. When they get hurt, no matter how many precautions we take, the notion that we can keep them safe is shaken.
If your child has been injured, the only thing you want is your child to be made whole again. If the accident was someone else’s fault, you may feel angry and upset, or you may be grieving. To say the least, the emotions can be overwhelming.
During this difficult time, the attorneys at Demas Law Group are here to help you make the best possible decisions in the interest of your injured child. We have successfully helped clients with injured children for more than 20 years.
When Injuries Happen to Children
In California, anyone from a newborn to 18 years of age is legally considered a child. As a society, we recognize children are different than adults and require our care and supervision. When children are unintentionally injured, whether it’s an infant or a high school athlete, the physical and mental effects of the accident can have more far-reaching consequences than they might for grown-ups. If you have unfortunately lost your child in an accident, you must bear different but equally or more difficult consequences. As incalculable as such losses may seem, if someone else is at fault, they are required by law to compensate you.
We put a tremendous amount of confidence in the many people responsible for keeping our children safe. We expect baby sitters to protect and check on sleeping infants. Daycare providers are supposed to protect toddlers from falling and burn injuries. Dog owners must keep their pets leashed. The bus driver is supposed to get our kids to school safely. Schools are required to properly supervise sporting activities. Drivers have to follow the rules of the road. We expect manufacturers of everything from toys to bicycles to automobiles to sell us products that aren’t defective and dangerous to our kids.
When those expectations are not met, a trust is broken, and all too often, children get hurt and even die. You thought you had an agreement. Your child was going to be kept safe. But your child wasn’t kept safe, and now your world has been turned upside down. The experienced child injury attorneys at Demas Law Group can help you turn the world right side up again.
Recent Demas Law Group Cases Involving Children
When a 9-year-old girl was electrocuted to death by an improperly grounded light pole at a Sacramento car wash, the owner denied that he was negligent. After extensive investigation, Demas Law Group proved the owner was negligent and our client was awarded a $1.2 million wrongful death settlement shortly before trial was set to begin.
In another case, the driver of a van who ran over a 2-year-old girl attempted to shift blame for the girl’s death to her parents and other people present. Demas Law Group investigators determined the driver was at fault, and the wrongful death of child case settled for $500,000 on the first day of trial.
Child Injury FAQs
1. What should I do if my child is injured?
Just about every child picks up the occasional bump or bruise that can easily be treated at home with disinfectant and a band aid. But when the injury is more severe, you should always seek professional medical treatment immediately.If the injury was (fully or partially) someone else’s fault, we recommend that you consult with one of our child injury attorneys regarding your legal rights and options. They are conveniently located in Sacramento.
2. What are some of the causes of unintentional child injuries?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) ranks unintentional injuries as the leading cause of death for children ages 0 to 19, accounting for more than 12,000 fatalities every year. Another 9 million children visit the emergency room annually. The CDC considers unintentional injuries to children to be a national healthcare problem. The center has compiled an extensive data base that offers parents a wide-angle view on the causes of unintentional child injuries and fatalities and how to prevent them.Child Fatalities
Automobile collisions are the leading cause of fatalities among children, accounting for one-in-three deaths. Other fatal vehicle accidents involving children include trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. Teenagers are more likely to be killed in a vehicle crash than their younger cohorts.Among infants, the leading cause of death is suffocation. That’s why it’s so important to check your baby while he or she is sleeping and to make sure toys are too large for a baby to swallow.
The leading cause of death for toddlers is drowning, which often occurs when toddlers are swimming or bathing without proper adult supervision.
The causes of nonfatal child injury accidents are more varied, and the CDC uses broader categories to rank them. One-third of all nonfatal child injuries are caused by falling accidents, and sometimes the adults responsible for supervising the child, as well as owners of the property on which a child has been hurt may be held legally accountable.
After falls, animal bites–including dogs–are the next leading cause of injury to children nine and under. In California, when a dog bites a child under the age of five, the child is legally considered faultless, and the dog owner is responsible for the injuries.
For children ages 10 to 14, the next leading cause of injury is what the CDC terms “struck by/against events” which includes high impact school sports activities such as football, baseball and basketball. If the school isn’t properly supervising these activities it can be held legally accountable for your child’s injury.
After “struck by/against events” and falls, automobile crashes are the leading cause of injuries to most teenagers. Often, these accidents are someone else’s fault, and they are responsible for paying your damages.
For more information on the causes of child accidents and how to prevent them, please see the resources section.
3. If my child is injured by the negligence of another, can my child bring a claim?
Not directly. When a child is injured by a negligent party, the child has the same rights to compensation as an adult, but a parent or guardian must file the claim. When a child is injured, a guardian ad litem must be appointed to represent the interests of the child. A guardian ad litem is a person appointed by the Court to act on behalf of the child. In California, a guardian ad litem is chosen by the Court. The Court selects a person who it believes would most legitimately and honestly represent the minor’s interests. This person will be legally required to make most of the decisions on behalf of his/her child. Guardians ad litem are not parties to the lawsuit and claim and have no legal right to recovery. They are simply acting on behalf of the injured child.
4. Do parents or guardians have access to their child’s personal injury settlement?
Generally, no. After a settlement or verdict is reached, the child’s personal injury recovery is deposited into a blocked account or annuity until the child is no longer a minor (i.e., turns 18 years old). After all of the legal fees have been paid, the proceeds of the settlement will be held by the Court in a low interest bearing account. After the child turns 18, the Court will disburse all funds to the child.These rules were enacted to ensure that the child will receive their settlement and to ensure that the money will not be used for any other purpose. Although parents are not able to reach their child’s personal injury settlement, they can petition the Court for periodic, necessary expenditures related to the injury accident claim.
5. My child was injured in an accident, which was partially his fault. Can I still make a claim against the other party responsible for the accident?
Yes. The law provides that liability is assessed in proportion to fault. Therefore, even if your child bears some responsibility, a valid claim may still exist. Additionally, as a matter of law, children under the age of five are incapable of contributory negligence. Thus, any fault your young child may have for the accident does not bar recovery.
6. How long do I have to file a claim or lawsuit for my child’s injury?
When a child is injured in California, they have until 2 years after their 18th birthday to file a claim. One important exception to this rule involves local, state and federal public agencies. For example, if your child was injured playing in a city park, you have only six months to file a claim against the city. If your child has been injured through the negligence of another, we urge you to contact Demas Law Group as soon as possible to ensure your legal rights are protected.
7. My child was fatally injured by someone else’s negligence. When should I file a wrongful death claim?
Parents, guardians and other loved ones have the right to compensation for the loss of a child, but because they are adults, the statutes of limitations are different. A lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of injury, with some exceptions. For example, you must file a complaint against a public agency no later than six months after the accident. For more information, please visit the Demas Law Group website’s wrongful death section.
8. Won’t my child be traumatized if we bring a lawsuit for his/her injuries?
At Demas Law Group we are very sensitive to the fact that some children may be traumatized if they are asked to be directly involved in a lawsuit or trial. The reality is that lawsuits are only brought in a very small number of cases (usually less than 2% of all cases). If a lawsuit is filed, it may be required that the child’s deposition be taken, depending on the child’s age and level of maturity. Since this can be a very intimidating experience for a child, our attorneys at Demas Law Group work very hard to ensure the child is well prepared and feels as comfortable as possible.
9. What will it cost me to hire Demas Law Group in a child injury case?
At Demas Law Group, we do not charge our clients any fees or costs until the case settles or we receive a winning verdict. If we do not resolve your case successfully, we do not charge any costs or fees.
10. What can my child get compensated for after an accident?
Just like an adult, your child is entitled to be fully compensated for his or her injuries. In legal language, the child is entitled to “be made whole”, meaning to be put back in the same position after the settlement as he/she was in immediately before the accident. Please visit our General FAQ section
for a more detailed answer.
Child Injury Resources