Personal injury lawyers will tell you that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children throughout the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the last year for which statistics are available, 675 children 12 years old and under were killed in motor vehicles as a result of crashes, and almost 116,000 were injured.
And these are only children who were occupants of the vehicles. Pedestrian injuries and deaths as a result of motor vehicles also need to be considered. A pedestrian is killed by a motor vehicle every 1 ½ hours nationwide, according to the CDC. Twenty percent of the total number of children under the age of 15 who are killed by motor vehicle collisions are pedestrians.
If your child was injured in a motor vehicle accident, your worry over their welfare can compound the pain and stress from the accident. Babies and children are more delicate than adults, and their injuries in a car or other motor vehicle accident can prove more severe and complicated as a result.
What should you do if your child was injured in a car accident? You can start by calling the Gwinnett County Child Injury Lawyer at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm. Meanwhile, here are some tips.
See a Doctor or Go to the Emergency Room
The aftermath of an accident can be traumatic. At times, your child may have been taken to an emergency room after an accident. But if the injuries don’t seem severe, all too often, parents simply want to go home and care for their child at home. They may reason that it’s better to put the accident behind the family and move on.
Everyone involved in an accident must have a medical professional check them out as soon as possible. Motor vehicle accidents can cause injuries that are not immediately visible or apparent to a parent or the child. Concussions, for example, frequently elude detection, but they are far from the only types of injuries that can go unnoticed. Young children, especially, may struggle to describe their physical condition, even if it includes a broken bone.
If your child was taken to an emergency room, their most immediate injuries will be treated. It’s a good idea to ask for a comprehensive exam, though, so that any other injuries they may have sustained are also known and treated.
If they weren’t taken to an emergency room, contact a physician. Explain the accident and ask them to do a comprehensive exam to ensure that your child is okay.
Find out Who Was at Fault
After a motor vehicle or other accident, your chief concern will, of course, be your child’s well-being. You need to make sure that they are treated for injuries and that any psychological trauma they feel is also known and addressed.
But it is also imperative to know who was at fault for the accident. Why? Because an at-fault party, whether it is a person or some other entity, may be liable for your child’s injuries. That means they could be responsible for the bills incurred for medical and other treatment.
Georgia is a fault state for insurance purposes. If another driver caused the accident, and the accident resulted in injuries to your child, that driver’s insurance company should pay medical bills caused by the accident. If the accident was caused by a company, as sometimes occurs due to faulty manufacture or other reasons, the company can be deemed at fault and will also be liable to pay for injuries suffered in the accident.
Georgia also allows injured people to recover monetary compensation for pain and suffering in the case of accidents. Pain and suffering refers to pain, of course, but it also relates to overall quality of life. People whose accidents irrevocably change their lives in some way should be compensated for pain and suffering as well. If your child becomes unable to walk as a result of an accident, for example, they should be highly compensated for the damage to their life overall.
Pain and suffering costs are assessed as a multiplier added to the cost of medical care. The more pain and suffering a victim is subject to, the higher the multiplier. Age is often a factor that drives the multiplier higher, because any impairment the victim suffers lasts for a longer period of time and may impact their life more severely. An amputated limb in a five-year-old, for example, is likely to receive a higher multiplier for pain and suffering than it would for a 65-year-old, simply because the five-year-old will be deprived of use of a limb for a longer time.
Some severe injuries will require lengthy or even lifelong care. They may need to retrofit a home to to accommodate wheelchairs, hospital beds, or other necessary medical equipment. It’s important to know that all these costs are medical expenses potentially recoverable from an at-fault party.
How do you determine who was at fault? Law enforcement completes a police report after accidents. The police report will describe what occurred and often makes obvious who was at fault. Make sure that you obtain a copy of the police report.
You can also talk to witnesses. If you are at the scene, it is also a good idea to take pictures with your smartphone. Pictures can reveal a great deal about the causes of an accident.
If there was no police report and you weren’t at the scene, it’s prudent to contact an attorney. Attorneys and their investigators can investigate the causes of an accident.
Know the Statute of Limitations if a Child Is Involved
Georgia residents usually have two years after the date of an accident to bring a personal injury lawsuit. The two-year period is known as the statute of limitations. After that, the court will very likely refuse to hear any case.
But that two-year statute of limitations does not apply to children injured in a car accident. Children and young teens are not considered legally competent to bring a suit. They may bring a lawsuit once they turn 18, according to the law.
As a result, children in Georgia may bring a personal injury lawsuit for recovery of damages in a motor vehicle accident within two years of turning 18, regardless of when the accident occurred.
Gwinnett County Child Injury FAQ
What can your Gwinnett County child injury lawyers do for me?
Nothing could be more distressing to a parent than when his or her child suffers a serious injury resulting from another person’s carelessness, negligence, or misconduct. Fortunately, in many cases, parents can hold bad actors accountable and pursue compensation on behalf of their children.
Child injury cases are unique in that they often involve special issues that do not come up in personal injury cases that involve adults. If your child has suffered injuries in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, the experienced Gwinnett County child injury lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm are ready to help.
Our legal team will help you file the claim—usually against the at-fault party’s insurance company—and pursue a settlement on your child’s behalf. If the insurance company is not willing to offer the monetary compensation that your child deserves, we can file a lawsuit and litigate the case in the Georgia state court system.
What types of negligence can lead to child injuries in Gwinnett County?
There are various forms of negligence, malpractice, and carelessness that can lead to serious child injuries in and around Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Below, we describe some of the most common types of child injuries that may result from the negligence of another person or entity.
- Birth Injuries. Birth injuries in Gwinnett County are often the result of some type of medical negligence or medical malpractice by a healthcare provider, such as a doctor or attending nurse at the hospital or in the delivery room. In addition, medical malpractice can occur at some point before or after the child’s birth—and in some cases, during birth. Medical errors may involve the improper use of forceps during the birth, administering too much medication, and depriving the infant of oxygen during the birthing process. These and other medical errors can lead to significant and potentially lifelong consequences for the child, including cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and Klumpke’s palsy, among other serious disorders and problems.
- Head Injuries. Children’s heads and brains are not fully developed, and when a child suffers a serious traumatic head or brain injury, it can sometimes lead to irreversible symptoms and consequences. In many cases, head injuries are the result of someone else’s careless conduct. At other times, these injuries occur because of defective or poorly maintained equipment at facilities, nursery schools, and daycare centers. Also, child athletes can suffer head injuries due to sporting facilities and equipment that are not properly maintained or defective. If a child suffers a head injury after another child bullies him or her at school, the child’s parents may bring a claim against the school, school system, or board of education for negligent supervision.
- Motor vehicle accidents. Like adults, children in motor vehicle accidents as passengers can suffer extremely serious and debilitating injuries. Again, since children’s bodies are more delicate, the injuries that a child suffers in a car or truck accident may be more severe than what an adult might suffer. A child may suffer a head injury, broken bone, or soft tissue injury, for example. Motor vehicle accidents can result from various forms of negligence, including speeding, distracted driving, and other common violations of the Georgia road rules. Child injury victims can pursue monetary compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company and possibly from others.
- Inadequate supervision. Serious child injuries can also result from poor or inadequate supervision. Parents trust daycare providers, school staff, coaches, camp counselors, and schoolteachers to properly care for their children when they (the parents) are not around. When these individuals fail to adequately supervise children and an accident and injury results to the child, then the child’s parents have a valid legal claim against the negligent individual, school system, and/or board of education.
- Defective Products. When parents purchase products for their children, they expect that the products will work correctly and not cause injuries. Sadly, that does not always happen, and playground equipment, toys, and other products designed for children can be defective and cause injuries. Other potentially defective equipment that can lead to a child injury includes child safety seats and car seatbelts.
How can an attorney assist with pursuing a Gwinnett County child injury claim?
There are several ways that an attorney may assist when it comes to pursuing monetary compensation in a child injury case. First, your lawyer can investigate the accident or occurrence that injured your child. An attorney may also consult with and retain an expert to determine how your child’s injury likely occurred, as well as the persons or entities that may be fully or partially responsible for the accident/occurrence and the injury.
An expert, including a medical expert, can be useful in determining the exact amount of mental, physical, and financial harm that a child suffered as a result of sustaining the injury in question.
A lawyer can also be helpful when it comes to filing your Gwinnett County child injury claim. In a child injury case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to demonstrate that an individual or entity behaved unreasonably under the circumstances. For example, the operator of a motor vehicle may have been speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, or running a red light or stop sign, resulting in the accident.
In the case of defective equipment at a playground or daycare facility, the manufacturer of the equipment may not have properly tested the equipment before making it available for consumers to purchase, or the product may have been designed defectively. Finally, in negligent supervision cases, the person or persons responsible for supervising the child may not have done so adequately, causing the child to become injured.
In addition to proving that a person or business entity negligently brought about the occurrence which led to the child becoming injured, the plaintiff also has the burden of proving that the injury which the child sustained actually resulted from the accident—and that it occurred because of the accident.
Also, in cases where a child is injured in an accident, there are always two separate claims under Georgia law. The first claim is called the parental claim, and it has two distinct elements. The first element of the parental claim is for medical expenses. This claim is necessary because a child’s parents are generally responsible for paying a child’s injury-related medical expenses up until the child turns 18 years old. The second element of the parental claim is for the loss of the child’s services.
In addition to the parental claim that is asserted by the child’s parents in a child injury claim, the child can also assert his or her own claim. As part of the child’s claim, the child may be eligible to recover monetary compensation for all of the pain and suffering which he or she had to endure as a result of the accident and the injuries.
The child can also recover monetary compensation for any permanent injuries that he or she suffered in the accident or occurrence. These permanent injuries may affect a child’s future ability to work, resulting in a claim for loss of earning capacity. The child can also pursue compensation for loss of abilities due to his or her accident-related injuries. Finally, the child can seek compensation for the costs of any anticipated medical care, treatment, and expenses that he or she may need, due to the injuries suffered in the accident or occurrence.
Will the court need to appoint a guardian ad litem in my child’s Gwinnett County injury case?
Some special considerations apply to injuries that involve minor children.
For example, in some instances, the court may need to appoint a guardian ad litem in personal injury cases that involve child injuries. A guardian ad litem makes decisions on behalf of the child. The guardian ad litem may have the legal authority to accept or reject a particular settlement offer that the insurance company may have put on the table.
The knowledgeable Gwinnett County child injury attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can help you determine whether you need a guardian in your child’s personal injury case and, if so, can take the necessary action to have the court appoint a guardian.
Can the at-fault party raise a valid legal defense in my child’s Gwinnett County injury case?
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff, or the individual who is filing the claim or lawsuit, has the burden of proving the various legal elements of the claim. However, the at-fault individual, or the defendant, may raise a defense to that claim.
In some adult personal injury cases, the at-fault party may claim that the accident victim contributed to the accident and his or her injuries in some way. However, the ability to raise that kind of defense in a child injury case depends upon several factors, including the child’s maturity and the child’s age at the time of the accident.
An experienced Gwinnett County child injury attorney at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm can assist you with responding to any defenses raised by the other side in your child’s case, offering you the best chances of success.
Will my child’s Gwinnett County child injury case settle?
Many Gwinnett County child injury cases ultimately settle outside of court. When that happens, the case does not have to go all the way to trial, and a jury will not decide a verdict or a damage award. However, specific rules govern settlements involving minors; these settlements often require court approval. Children’s assets have to be closely managed until they reach 18 years of age. In some cases, a structured settlement arrangement will be necessary, rather than a single, lump-sum award.
Gwinnett County child injury settlement negotiations can take time. The process typically begins when the plaintiff’s lawyer submits a demand package to the insurance company adjuster or defense attorney in the case. The adjuster or defense attorney will review the settlement demand, including all pertinent medical records, bills, and other documentation, and may make an opening offer on the case. These initial offers are usually very low, and it will take some negotiating before the offer comes up significantly.
Even still, the insurance company may not be willing to offer full and fair compensation for your child’s injuries in the accident or incident. When that happens, your lawyer will need to file a lawsuit in the case and take your case to trial.
The experienced Gwinnett County child injury attorneys at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm will work hard to help you pursue the best possible compensation award in your child’s personal injury case. If the insurance company refuses to offer your child fair compensation, we can litigate your case through the court system, and if necessary, take it to a jury trial.
How much does a Gwinnett County child injury lawyer at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm cost?
When facing unexpected medical bills and an uncertain future, many parents of injured children understandably worry about how much it may cost to retain an attorney. The good news is that at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, we will never collect legal fees unless we win your case.
In addition, since we offer free consultations, you risk nothing by coming to talk to us about your Gwinnett County child injury case. At your free case evaluation, we will carefully evaluate how your child was injured and let you know whether we believe that you have a case. If you choose us to represent you, any fees that we collect will come out of any compensation we help you obtain, so you will never have to pay for legal representation out of pocket.
Call Our Child Injury Attorneys Today
While the statute of limitations may seem to give you time to act, you’re better off calling the experienced, caring child injury lawyers at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm sooner than later. You can reach us at (404) 418-8244 or through our online contact form. We can provide you with additional information about child injuries, evaluate your case, and see if we can help you or your child recover compensation.
Brauns Law, P.C.
3175 Satellite Boulevard, Bldg 600
Duluth, GA 30096
Phone: (404) 205-8614