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When people think of personal injury lawyers, they might not immediately think of child injury lawyers. Unfortunately, children can also be victims of someone’s intentional acts, negligence, or of defective products. Each year, around 12,000 children die in the United States from an unintentional injury, and around 9.2 million children have an initial emergency department visit.
Child injury attorneys work diligently to ensure that these children and their families get justice. They know how to protect the rights of people who have been injured by someone else. We will inform you of some of your rights under personal injury law and some considerations you should make in deciding whether to hire a personal injury lawyer.
How can I seek recovery for my child?
Consider a few things before deciding whether or not to hire a personal injury attorney. There are several steps you will want to take in order to recover for the injuries that your child sustained. If your child was injured through no fault of his/her own, your child will likely have an injury with remedies under personal injury law.
When children are involved in personal injury cases, you can select—or the court can appoint—a “next friend” or “guardian ad litem.” We will discuss this and personal injury law further in the next sections.
Personal Injury law
Personal injury law consists of non-criminal intentional acts of others, negligence, and strict liability cases. We will discuss negligence and products liability in more depth later. If someone committed battery, assault, or some other intentional tort against your child, you should seek guidance from a personal injury lawyer regarding the specific facts of your case to confirm that a crime has not taken place.
In order to recover under civil personal injury claims, also called tort claims, there are two basic concepts with which you should be familiar: liability and damages. These varieties of cases are intentional torts, strict liability, and negligence.
The first step of showing liability is making sure that you are suing the correct person or entity. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s case, multiple parties could be involved. Each party might need to take some portion of liability depending on whether the party was at fault or partially at fault. For products liability cases, no fault needs to be shown for the defendant to be liable.
For damages, your child must have received an injury for which he or she can be granted relief. There are different kinds of compensation that you and your child could receive depending on the nature and extent of your respective injuries.
Usually, in personal injury cases, the victim can receive economic and noneconomic damages. In a child injury case, a parent could also receive bystander damages, which we will discuss later. Economic damages will typically include present and future medical bills and other costs associated with recovery of the injury and missed wages from your time off of work in caring for your injured child. Noneconomic damages account for your child’s pain and suffering resulting from the injury.
However, the amount of damages you receive could reduce based on other factors such as partial fault. In states where you can recover even if you were partially at fault, your recoverable damages will reduce by the percentage of fault you take. That means that if a jury finds you to be 20% at fault, you can recover 80% of your damages.
Next Friend and Guardian ad litem
In cases involving children, it is helpful to have either a “next friend” or a “guardian ad litem;” these two terms are similar and can overlap. A next friend is either a parent or relative of the child who appears in court instead of the child; however, this role cannot be filled by someone who is a party in the case. If you are a parent trying to recover for the injury you received through a negligent infliction of emotional distress, then you cannot stand in as a next friend.
A guardian ad litem is someone whom the court appoints to watch after the child’s best interests during the case. The appointment of a guardian ad litem will allow you to pursue damages as a parent in the case.
How can I seek recovery as a parent?
You may also be able to recover as a parent who has witnessed his or her child’s suffering. The easiest way you can prove your entitlement to recovery is if you fall under the correct legal category to receive bystander damages. That is, if someone negligently inflicted you with emotional distress while you were within the zone of danger of the accident, you could receive bystander damages.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress
The claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress allows you to recover for the severe emotional distress that you experience as a result of someone’s negligent actions. To meet the elements of this claim, you must have experienced contact from the defendant’s negligence or have been in the zone of danger. In a bystander case, you will have seen your close family member suffer a grave injury because of someone else’s negligence.
Zone of Danger
The zone of danger refers to your proximity to the accident. It is often a defense that is used against personal injury lawyers to limit the defendant’s liability. If you were in the zone of danger when your child was injured, lawyers can help you proceed with your claim.
Do I need a Lawyer if my child was injured?
You have learned about the broadest issues—liability and damages—in any personal injury case. However, you will need to base your claim on an existing legal theory. Under the theory, you will need to prove various points of law. Negligence and products liability are personal injury claims with their own unique sets of elements that the plaintiff who brings the case must prove.
For a claim of negligence, you must prove the following:
1. The defendant owed your child a duty of care.
2. The defendant breached that duty by failing to provide your child with a sufficient standard of care.
3. Your child suffered an injury because of the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
4. The defendant’s negligent conduct directly or proximately caused your child’s injury.
Those who work in daycare have a duty to supervise your child; staff at an amusement park have a duty to maintain the safety of the park. Injuries that your child obtains from car accidents could be due to the negligence of the person driving the vehicle transporting your child or due to the negligence of other drivers. There are countless ways that someone’s negligence may have harmed your child.
For Products Liability
For a claim of products liability, you must prove the following:
1. The defendant company sold a product that your child used.
2. The defendant company was the commercial seller of the product.
3. Your child suffered an injury from using the product.
4. The product was defective when the defendant company sold it.
5. The product’s defect caused your child’s injury.
You could hold a manufacturer liable for a defective toy, a defective car seat, a defective crib, or any other manufactured item that contains some inherent harmful flaw. It is easy to be confused by the elements of negligence and products liability. Child injury attorneys can help you see whether you have a case under either of these laws for which you can recover.
How a Child injury lawyer can help
Zinda Law child injury lawyers will be more than familiar with all of the specific elements of the legal claims above. You might think of these child injury attorneys as athletes perfecting their sport. Athletes train by building strength, endurance, and accuracy.
In the same way an athlete works out in the gym to make herself stronger, a lawyer researches the relevant law to make an argument stronger. An athlete cannot collapse of exhaustion during a game just as a personal injury attorney cannot crack under pressure during a negotiation. An athlete needs to have accurate aim in the way that a child injury lawyer must have an accurate understanding of a client’s goals and how to achieve them.
Talk to the Zinda Law group Child injury Attorneys
No one should have to witness his or her child suffer or pass away from someone else’s negligent actions. If you want help advocating for your child’s legal rights, we would like to hear from you. Call the Zinda Law Group child injury lawyers at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation.
Rest assured knowing that we will take the financial risk in your case. You have already gone through enough stress and emotional exertion if your child has been seriously injured or killed. Our No Win, No Fee Guarantee is a safeguard on your wallet: You will not pay our attorneys unless they win your case for you.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.