Child injury claims are quite different in several ways from those of adults. For example—the statute of limitations doesn’t run until the child turns 18 years of age, the court has to approve any settlements, and an adult must file the lawsuit on the child’s behalf —just to name a few. As such, these are difficult claims to manage without the assistance of an experienced Lawrenceville child injury lawyer from the Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm.
Common Children’s Injury Claims in Lawrenceville
Each year many American children suffer injuries, some fatal, in preventable accidents. Lawrenceville residents have Safe Kids Gwinnett as a resource to help them keep their children safe. But what happens when a child sustains an injury because someone else was careless?
Children most frequently suffer injuries in car accidents, drownings, fires and burns, suffocation, and poisonings. A child’s injuries understandably cause anxiety for parents, not just over their child’s recovery from their injuries but also ensuring that they are making the right legal decisions on behalf of their child.
Many child injury claims can come from the same circumstances that adult injury claims come from—for example, car or pedestrian accidents. However, some accidents are more likely to hurt young kids. At Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, our Lawrenceville child injury attorneys represent parents and children hurt by many types of injuries.
Falls are a frequent cause of accidental injuries for both individuals of all ages. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that emergency rooms see approximately 8,000 children for fall injuries each day. Children can have medical malpractice claims, such as when a birth injury occurs. Dog bites often cause injuries to children, as well as defective products such as baby equipment and toys.
Other causes of injuries to children that could involve negligent include sports and recreational activities and accidents on or at:
- Daycares and schools
- Swimming pools
- School buses
Does Your Child Have a Lawrenceville Personal Injury Claim?
Injuries are a normal part of childhood. No matter how careful other people are or what types of protections are in place, injuries still occur. However, some injuries are preventable when certain individuals adhere to their duty of care.
If you suspect that someone else is liable for your child’s injuries, a well-versed Lawrenceville child injury lawyer can help you choose how to handle the injury claim with the best interests of your child in mind.
Your child has a valid injury claim if you can prove the following elements:
- Another individual or entity owed a duty of care to your child
- They failed to uphold their duty of care, which led to an accident or unsafe situation
- The accident or situation caused your child’s injuries
- Your child’s injuries lead to their damages
Who Can File an Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child in Lawrenceville?
Child injury claims require another party to legally represent the child. Children who are not 18 can’t file or settle their own lawsuits. A competent adult, typically called a “next friend,” must do so on their behalf. A next friend represents a minor child or someone who is not legally competent to represent themselves in court.
Next, friends must be an adult and can be one of the following:
- A court-appointed attorney
- One parent
- Both parents
- A legal guardian
You don’t automatically assume the role of your child’s next friend. You should speak to a Lawrenceville child injury lawyer to find out what you need to do to be their next friend as it often requires court approval.
Sometimes judges will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to represent the child’s best interests in court. A GAL doesn’t take the place of a parent, next friend, or attorney. Instead, they appear independently to represent the child. The GAL works for the court and is not beholden to the parent or their Lawrenceville child injury attorney.
Child Injuries Statute of Limitations
Each state has a law, known as the statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This law requires injured individuals or their Lawrenceville child injury lawyer to file lawsuits for damages within a defined deadline. If they don’t file it within the allotted time frame, it won’t be a legally valid claim. They will forgo the option to seek compensation for their damages.
For adults, Georgia’s statute of limitations begins on the day of the injury and runs for two years. For children, the statute of limitations is tolled, meaning it does not begin to run until the child’s 18th birthday; it doesn’t matter how old they sustained their injury.
A child who suffers an injury in Georgia has until two years after they turn 18th to file an injury lawsuit. If they didn’t file their injury claim by their 20th birthday, they could still file it, but the court will refuse to hear it based on the expired statute of limitations.
Parents who are pursuing compensation for loss of consortium related to their child’s injury are also entitled to the same tolling of this statute. If the statute of limitations were different between parent and child claims, they could potentially file claims several years apart. Courts usually want to keep child and parental claims for the same injury together; thus, the tolling applies to their claims.
Waiting until the injured child turns 18 to file a lawsuit can be risky under some circumstances. If there is a prolonged delay before you seek legal counsel, valuable evidence may be lost or destroyed. For instance, key witnesses may vanish or move away, and records may be discarded. The ability to recover fair compensation could be lost or seriously impaired as a result. Many parents and legal guardians pursue a legal claim on their child’s behalf as soon as possible after the accident or before they turn 18.
If the parents file and settle a lawsuit while their injured child is still a minor, the law bars the child from filing the same claim independently once they turn 18. By consulting with a seasoned Lawrenceville child injury attorney, you can find out when the best time to file your child’s injury claim will be.
Damages in Lawrenceville Child Injury Cases
Children have the right to compensation for their own damages. The majority of child injury cases involve damages for both the parents and the child. Although their damages are separate, the legal claim covers damages to both.
Parents or legal are legally permitted to pursue compensation for medical expenses paid for their child. Parents can also seek damages for their own emotional pain and suffering. Frequently, they include their damages in the child’s lawsuit. However, they can file their own legal action instead if they choose.
The same non-economic damages applied to adults can also apply to children. For example:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of function of a body part
- Scarring or disfigurement
Non-economic damages have subjective value. During settlement negotiations, the injured individual or their next friend must consider what they think the child’s damages are worth. If the case doesn’t settle and ends up in court, a jury will decide the value for the child and their parents.
If the child’s injuries will have an impact on their ability to earn a living as an adult, the loss of future income can also be included as damages in their claim.
When a Child Suffers Fatal Injuries in Lawrenceville
A Next Friend or GAL is not necessary if a child dies from their injuries. The parents can file a lawsuit on their behalf. Their damages will be similar to a child injury claim but will also include funeral and burial expenses.
By consulting with a Lawrenceville child injury attorney, parents can ensure that they file their wrongful death claim within the statute of limitations. Wrongful death cases have the same statute of limitations as child injury claims do; two years from the date of the death.
Can I Afford a Lawrenceville Child Injury Lawyer at Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm?
Yes, you can.
After a child’s injury, parents might experience a myriad of unexpected medical, travel, and other expenses. With many families already living paycheck to paycheck, the financial obligations of hiring a Lawrenceville child injury attorney can keep them from doing so.
However, when you work with Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, you don’t have any financial obligations unless we negotiate a reasonable settlement or win your case in front of a jury. We work on a contingency fee basis only. By doing so, parents can get the legal representation they desperately need while not adding to their financial stress.
Once our clients receive a settlement or court award, we receive our payment directly from those proceeds. If we do not successfully negotiate a settlement or litigate your case, you do not owe us anything, and we absorb the cost. You can even meet with us to discuss your child’s injury and the circumstances surrounding it for free with no strings attached. At Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm, we believe that child injury victims and their families shouldn’t have to let their financial position get in the way of receiving the legal help they need and deserve.
Court Approval Required to Settle a Child’s Injury Claim
Child injury lawsuits can end with a negotiated settlement with the insurance company or through a court award.
A settlement agreement will usually include specific rules about how the money will be distributed and used. For instance, the agreement will state if the settlement will reimburse the child’s parents for their medical expenses. However, Georgia laws require court approval for any settlements of more than $15,000. If the settlement is $15,000 or less, parents do not need to seek approval and can accept the settlement independently.
Court approval ensures that the child’s best interests are entirely protected. This requirement also ensures that all settlement agreements are enforceable so that the injured child victim can’t file another lawsuit when they reach the age of 18.
You or your Lawrenceville child injury lawyer will need to file legal documents to begin the process of seeking court approval. You might be required to appear at the hearing, along with your lawyer and the attorneys for the defendant. At the hearing, the judge will want to know why the settlement amount is fair to the child.
The judge might want to know more about the child’s:
- Current health status
- Abilities and disabilities as a result of their injuries
- Anticipated medical needs and rehabilitation for the future
- Education status
When the judge approves the settlement and their next friend signs it, it legally binds the child to the settlement agreement. They can’t decide to file another lawsuit once they turn 18 if they think their settlement amount was unfair.
Options for Managing a Child’s Injury Compensation
Once it is approved, there are numerous options for handling a child injury settlement. Our Lawrenceville child injury attorneys can explain what options are viable in your child’s case.
Typically, the options are the following:
- The child’s parents get the money
- Someone holds the money safely until the child is at least 18 years old
- The money goes toward the child’s care in periodic payments
Hire a Compassionate Lawrenceville Child Injury Lawyer Today
If your child is injured, seek sound legal advice from Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm. You want to maximize your child’s compensation and be sure that any money obtained is used only for their benefit. By hiring our compassionate Lawrenceville child injury attorneys, you can accomplish both of these tasks.
As a parent, you want to do all that you can so that your injured child receives fair compensation for their current and future expenses related to the injury, their general damages, and you expect repayment for your child’s medical bills. With so much at stake, you need a knowledgeable Lawrenceville personal injury attorney in your corner looking out for you. Call Brauns Law Accident Injury Firm at (404) 418-8244 or complete our contact form to get skilled legal assistance. Remember—your initial consultation is free.
Brauns Law, P.C.
892 legacy park Dr.
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
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