As a parent or caretaker of a young child, we do everything we can to ensure our children’s safety and well-being. However, accidents can happen, leaving children injured and families devastated. In cases where child injuries result from negligence or unreasonable dangers, the impact can be devastating. Unfortunately, Florida has one of the highest vehicle-related child injury cases, with over 150 child backover cases resulting in death alone since 1998. Understanding how a child injury lawyer can help you and your family should such a tragedy happen can help you ensure that the most possible is done to support your child.

Why You Need a Child Injury Lawyer

When your child is injured due to negligence or unsafe conditions, seeking legal guidance becomes crucial. Child injury lawyers specialize in cases where children have suffered harm, aiming to secure the compensation families need to cope with medical bills, pain and suffering, and potential lifelong care.

Child injury lawyers investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury to determine if negligence played a role. Many entities can be held responsible for negligent supervision, hiring, or product defects. These lawyers are experienced in estimating damages unique to child injury cases, helping families receive just compensation.

Negligence Leading to injury: How a Child Injury Lawyer Can Help

When you entrust your child into the care of another, be it a school, babysitter, or friend, you give them the momentous responsibility of that child’s wellbeing. In legal terms, this responsibility for the well-being of another is called “duty of care.” It comes into effect in various situations, from a babysitter watching a child to a nurse’s duty of care to their patient. Age, situation, and occupation can all impact proving duty of care, which is why hiring a child injury lawyer can be essential to making a successful claim.

If the liable party did commit a breach of the caretaker’s duty, you may be able to pursue a claim to recover compensation for damages. However, you must prove negligence on the caretaker’s part directly led to the child’s injuries by confirming the following,

  1. The responsible party was obligated to ensure your child’s safety, known as a “duty of care.”
  2. A violation of this duty directly led to your child’s injury.
  3. Even if your child’s actions played a role in their injuries, they were too young at the time of the incident to be reasonably held accountable for their actions.

What Injuries Can a Child Injury Lawyer Help With?

Child injury lawyers are well-equipped to handle various types of child injuries:

Common Causes of Child Injuries

Childhood injuries can occur in a variety of ways, often due to circumstances that are preventable with proper care and supervision. Here are some of the most common causes of child injuries:

Traffic Accidents:

Auto accidents are a leading cause of injuries and fatalities among children. These accidents can result from car crashes, bicycle accidents, or pedestrian incidents. It is crucial to ensure children use car seats, wear helmets, and follow safety rules on or near roads.

Drowning:

With its abundance of beautiful pools and waterfronts, swimming in Florida is a popular pastime. However, drowning is an ever-present risk, particularly for toddlers and young children. According to the CDC, Between 2018 and 2020, Florida held the top position in the United States for the highest unintentional drowning-related fatalities among children aged 1 to 4. Children should always be closely supervised around water, whether it’s a swimming pool, lake, or bathtub. Installing proper safety measures and teaching children how to swim can also help reduce the risk.

Falls:

Falls pose a significant danger to children, making it crucial for parents and caregivers to remain vigilant. Whether it’s a tumble from playground equipment, furniture, or a simple misstep, falls are one of the leading causes of injuries among children. These accidents can result in fractures, concussions, and various physical injuries with potential long-term consequences. Moreover, the emotional toll of such accidents can’t be underestimated, as children may develop anxiety or fear of future falls. Preventing falls through proper supervision, childproofing homes, and teaching children about safe play remains paramount in ensuring their safety and well-being. Proper safety equipment and supervision can minimize fall-related injuries.

Dog Bites:

Despite dogs being one of the most popular pets in America, they cause significant damage, with over 4.5 million dog bites yearly. Dog bites can lead to severe injuries, especially for children who cannot defend themselves. Injuries can range from mild cuts and bruises to serious infections, wounds requiring craniofacial surgery or even death. It’s essential to teach children how to interact safely with dogs and to be cautious around unfamiliar animals.

Choking:

Small objects, toys, or improperly prepared food can pose choking hazards for young children. Parents and caregivers must keep choking hazards out of reach and supervise mealtime.

Burns:

Burns are a serious injury that commonly affects children, with over 300 children seen in emergency rooms daily for burn complications. Burns can result from hot liquids, stoves, or other hot surfaces and commonly cause injuries. Preventative measures like using safety gates, installing stove guards, and keeping hot items out of reach can reduce burn injuries.

Sports Injuries:

Children involved in sports activities are at risk of injuries, including fractures, sprains, and concussions. Appropriate protective gear and proper training can help minimize these risks.

Heat Stroke:

Heatstroke is a prominent cause of non-collision, vehicle-related fatalities in children. This serious condition occurs when a child is unintentionally left inside a hot vehicle, leading to a swift and life-threatening rise in body temperature. The critical point for heatstroke begins when a child’s core body temperature reaches approximately 104 degrees when the body’s temperature-regulating system becomes overwhelmed. A core body temperature of around 107 degrees proves lethal. Regrettably, even responsible parents can occasionally forget that a child is in the back seat of their car. Other risk factors include individuals unaccustomed to driving with children or whose daily routines abruptly change.

Whether you’re a parent, caregiver, or an observer who notices a child left unattended in a vehicle, it is vital to recognize that children are more susceptible to heatstroke than adults.

Preventive Measures:

Check Before Locking: Make it a routine to inspect the vehicle before locking it. Implement these strategies to reduce the risk of subjecting children to heatstroke.

Secure Your Vehicle: Keep your vehicle locked and ensure the keys are out of reach, as nearly three out of ten heatstroke fatalities occur when unsupervised children access a car.

Take Immediate Action: If you encounter a child left alone in a vehicle, everyone is responsible for acting and safeguarding the child’s well-being. Learn the appropriate steps to take when encountering an unattended child in a car.

Crucial Information:

Leaving a child unattended in or around a vehicle, under any circumstances, is unacceptable. Even in milder temperatures, your car’s interior can quickly increase to dangerous levels. For instance, an external temperature in the mid-60s can result in the interior temperature of a vehicle soaring above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Within the initial ten minutes, your car’s internal temperature can increase by nearly 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s important to recognize that heatstroke can occur throughout the year, in any weather conditions, and in any community, making it a concern for all parents, regardless of location.

Playground Accidents:

Inadequately maintained or unsafe playground equipment can lead to injuries. Regular inspections and maintenance of play areas are essential to prevent accidents.

Defective Products:

Defective toys, car seats, and other products can harm children. Ensuring product safety, staying updated on recalls, and carefully following usage guidelines can help protect children.

Swimming Pool Accidents:

Pools can be especially dangerous for children. Installing safety fences and pool covers and teaching children how to swim are effective preventive measures.

Child injuries are often the result of negligence or inadequate supervision, and they can have life-altering consequences. Taking appropriate safety measures and precautions is crucial to protect children from these common injury causes and ensure their well-being.

Attractive Nuisance

Florida law recognizes the concept of an “attractive nuisance.” Property owners can be liable for injuries to trespassing children if an attractive nuisance causes the injury. This includes objects or structures likely to attract children, such as swimming pools and trampolines. Property owners must ensure these attractions are secure when not in use to prevent accidents.

Florida law recognizes that children, especially very young ones, may not fully comprehend the potential dangers presented by these attractions, and their curiosity can lead them to enter the property without permission. Therefore, property owners are expected to take reasonable steps to ensure that these attractive nuisances are inaccessible to children when not in use or to secure them in a way that prevents children from entering and getting injured.

If a child is injured while trespassing on another person’s property due to an attractive nuisance, the property owner may be held liable for the child’s injuries under Florida law. Property owners are responsible for protecting children from potential hazards created by these attractive nuisances, even if the child was technically trespassing on their property at the time of the injury. This legal principle is designed to promote child safety and prevent accidents by holding property owners accountable for dangerous conditions on their premises.

How Much Compensation Can I Get For A Child Injury Case?

Determining the suitable compensation for a child’s injuries presents several complexities. In contrast to cases involving adults with established careers, where lost income can be estimated, child injury cases often entail more uncertainty. Questions may arise regarding the child’s long-term recovery and prognosis. In these situations, predicting the child’s future can be challenging, making it vital for an experienced attorney to effectively convey the extent of the child’s loss to a jury.

Florida Statute of Limitations for Children’s Cases

Understanding the statute of limitations is essential when considering legal action for child injuries. In most personal injury cases in Florida, the statute of limitations is relatively short. However, in child injury cases, it is extended. When a child is injured, the standard two-year limitations period is tolled until they turn 18. As a result, injured children can file a lawsuit until they reach the age of 20, allowing families more time to pursue justice.

In 2010, Florida Governor Charlie Crist approved a groundbreaking legal change by signing Florida House Bill 525 into law. This legislation removes the statute of limitations for criminal and civil cases concerning children under 16 years old. The new law became effective and pertains to any claim that the previous statute of limitations wouldn’t have barred as of July 1, 2010.

The primary opposition to this law came from the Catholic Church. This significant alteration in Florida’s legal landscape empowers abused children to hold their abusers accountable for the full extent of the harm they’ve inflicted. Child sexual abuse often leaves victims unable to comprehend or recall the abuse for many years after it occurs, rendering this new law instrumental in addressing the inherent injustices associated with child sexual abuse.

How to Prevent Child Accidents

Preventing child accidents is, of course, the priority. Parents and caregivers can take steps to minimize risks:

Supervision:

Keeping a close eye on children is crucial, particularly in schools, daycares, and amusement parks. Negligent supervision can lead to serious injuries.

Safe Play:

Ensure children’s playgrounds, amusement park rides, and sporting events are safe. Regular inspections and maintenance are vital to avoid dangerous accidents.

Education:

Teach children about safety, especially around dogs. Over half of dog bite victims are children, and education can reduce the risk of such incidents. As auto accidents are the leading cause of death for children after guns, it is important to focus on educating kids about car safety.

The NHTSA has created a useful set of practices to help avoid backover accidents:

  • Instruct children to avoid playing near cars and encourage them to engage in activities far away from vehicles.
  • Teach children to move away from a car when they see the driver entering and starting it.
  • Instruct children to keep their bicycles and toys away from the driveway.
  • Prior to setting off, thoroughly inspect the area around and underneath your vehicle.
  • Position children on the sidewalk or driveway’s edge to maintain visibility as you reverse your car.
  • Continuously monitor the rear while reversing to anticipate any unexpected child movements.
  • Examine your mirrors as you back up, considering children’s unpredictable actions.
  • Keep in mind that smaller children are more challenging to spot.
  • Take extra precautions with larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks due to their expanded blind spots.

Fortunately, backover accidents are preventable. It is important for everyone to consistently practice these measures whenever reversing vehicles in order to avoid child injuries.

Proper Use of Child Car Seats:

Car seats are an essential safety measure for children, as their benefits significantly outweigh potential concerns. Recent articles have raised questions about car seat safety, but it’s crucial to strike a balance by considering their substantial advantages. Research indicates that when used correctly, car seats can reduce the risk of injury, hospitalization, or even fatality by over 70% compared to using seat belts or having no restraints. These statistics underscore the importance of proper car seat usage in safeguarding the lives and well-being of young passengers during vehicle travel.

Infants should be secured in a car seat equipped with a detachable carrier, which provides the best support for young babies. Most of these car seats typically have a weight limit from 30 to 35 pounds, leading some parents to assume they can continue using them until their child reaches this weight, usually around two years old.

Consumer Reports conducted tests that revealed a crucial factor in determining whether a child has outgrown their car seat is height rather than weight. A 22-pound dummy (representing an average 1-year-old) was used in these tests, and alarming results emerged. Of the 30 child car seats tested, 16 failed to provide adequate protection against head injuries. This occurred because the dummy’s height allowed it to slide upward during impact, causing its head to strike the rear of one of the vehicle’s front seats. However, the risk of head injuries significantly diminished when the same dummy was placed in a convertible rear-facing car seat. Only one of the 25 dummies tested in these seats experienced a head injury. Given these findings, experts at Consumer Reports recommend that parents transition to convertible car seats once their children reach the age of one.

Child Injury Statistics

Child injuries are a significant concern, with some troubling statistics:

  • Children aged four and younger are at a higher risk of injury, accounting for 49% of all unintentional injury deaths among children under 14.
  • Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries for children, while drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children aged 1 to 4.
  • Tragically, more than 2,000 children under 14 lose their lives due to home injuries every year.

Despite being known as the “Sunshine State,” children in Florida are exposed to significant safety risks, particularly vehicular and water-related accidents. However, understanding the statistics can help parents take steps to protect their children.

Conclusion

In conclusion, child injuries are a distressing reality, and understanding your legal options and the role of a child injury lawyer is crucial. Taking preventative measures and seeking legal assistance when necessary can help protect your child’s future and hold those responsible for their injuries accountable.

If your child or a young loved one has been injured and requires the help of a trusted child injury lawyer, Call (855) 741 – LAWS (5297) or email us at perkins@perkinslawoffices.com.