Depending on the circumstances, an accident can cause one or more victims to suffer injuries. These can include serious injuries like concussions, spinal cord injuries, and limb amputations. Any individual caught in the wrong place at the wrong time can be injured, no matter how old or fit he or she was at the time of the accident. But an individual’s age and fitness level can impact the severity of his or her injury and its long-term prognosis.
When an accident is caused by negligence, the victim can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for his or her damages related to the incident. A child cannot do this for him- or herself, however. When a child is injured in an accident, their parent or legal guardian must file a civil claim on his or her behalf. Work with an Austin child injury lawyer to learn more about your options.
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How Can A Child Be Injured?
A child can be injured in any type of accident, just like an adult. These include:
Children are more likely than adults to be injured in certain types of accidents, such as dog bites and playground accidents.
Facts and Statistics about Child Injuries
Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for adolescents in the United States. On average, just over 12,000 children between the ages of zero and 19 die from accidental injuries each year in the United States. Approximately 9.2 million children visit the emergency room for accidental injuries each year. Finally, falls are the primary cause of nonfatal injuries to children in the United States.
How is a Child’s Injury Different from an Adult’s Injury?
When a young child breaks a bone, it generally heals faster than an adult’s fracture would. This is because when children are young, their bones are still flexible and as they grow, often repairing themselves.
Child and adult injuries differ in other ways as well. One notable example is brain injuries. When a child suffers a brain injury, the prognosis is often worse than it would be for an adult with the same injury.
Children are more likely to receive a worse prognosis result because their brains are still developing, and an injury can impede development, potentially causing a child to experience developmental delays or learning difficulties later in life.
A child’s recovery experience can also be quite different from an adult’s recovery. For a child, recovering from an injury could mean spending a prolonged period of time out of school, which can put them behind his or her peers academically and socially. For an adult, it can mean missed career opportunities and the need for in-home domestic help.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim on a Child’s Behalf
When an adult is injured, the statute of limitations for his or her case is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means that once two years pass, the victim is no longer able to file a personal injury claim and recover compensation.
If the victim was under the age of 18 when he or she was injured, the statute of limitations is “tolled” until his or her 18th birthday. In other words, the two-year time limit to file a claim begins on the victim’s 18th birthday, effectively giving him or her until his or her 20th birthday to file a lawsuit. This is true regardless of the child’s age at the time of the injury.
A parent can file a civil claim on a child’s behalf before they turn 18. An adult who does so is known as a “next friend.” Personal injury claims filed by next friends are divided into two parts: compensation for the parents’ expenses, such as lost wages and out-of-pocket medical bills, and compensation for the child’s damages, such as reduced quality of life and permanent disability.
If your child was involved in an accident and sustained a physical injury, it is your job as a parent to ensure that he or she makes the fullest possible recovery. This might mean you need to seek compensation for the financial damages associated with your child’s injury, which can include his or her medical bills, compensation for the wages you missed to care for your child, and the costs your child will incur due to any permanent disabilities caused by the injury. To discuss your case in greater detail, contact DC Law today to schedule your free, confidential legal consultation with an experienced Austin child injury lawyer at our firm.