Few people reach adulthood without suffering injuries during childhood. Unfortunately, many children experience serious, even catastrophic, injuries due to the actions of others. When that occurs, the negligent party might be liable to pay monetary damages in compensation.
Severe childhood injuries cause devastation to the child’s family and may impact the child’s life forever. Determining appropriate compensation requires the experience of a Philadelphia child injury lawyer. A compassionate injury attorney could review your case and determine how to proceed based on your unique circumstances.
Proving Negligence in Cases Involving Children
In Pennsylvania, plaintiffs in personal injury claims bear the burden to prove defendant negligence. In general, an injured person shows negligence by proving that:
- The defendant owed them a duty of care
- The defendant breached their duty
- An accident or injury resulted
- The claimant suffered actual harm because of it
When the injured person is a child, this analysis changes in several ways. Since children lack the experience, maturity, or reasoning skills to evaluate risk, in most situations, the duty to keep the child safe is enhanced. For example, property owners must take steps to ensure that children cannot gain access to their swimming pools, trampolines, or other features that are considered an “attractive nuisance.” They could be liable if a child is injured, even if the minor was trespassing at the time.
Manufacturers of children products must also use the utmost caution to ensure the item is safe. If an item designed for children’s use cannot withstand predictable misuse and a child is injured, the manufacturer could be held liable. A Philadelphia lawyer could review a child injury case to determine if they have grounds for a suit.
Statutes of Limitations in Child Injury Cases
Decisions about when and whether to sue are also more complicated when the injured person is a minor. People may not file suit in Pennsylvania until they reach the age of majority.
Two Year Statute of Limitations for Parents
Parents may sue for damages for expenses they incurred in caring for their harmed child. These include the costs of medical care, wages the parents lost if they took time off work to care for the child, loss of the child’s companionship, and other losses. According to 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated §5524, parents or legal guardians have up to two years after the child’s injury to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for these expenses.
Parents may also bring suit on behalf of their injured child for losses such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of ability to enjoy life, loss of companionship, and lost earning capacity. However, these losses can be difficult to estimate, especially if the child is very young at the time the injury occurred.
Time Extension for Minors
A child who has reached the age of majority may bring a lawsuit for personal injuries suffered as a child within two years of their 18th birthday, regardless of how long ago the accident happened. A benefit to this strategy is that the long-term impact of the accident will be more apparent when the child reaches adulthood, which might lead to a damage award that more adequately addresses all the child’s losses.
However, the child will not be able to sue for damages the parents received on the child’s behalf. The defendant will not be held liable for the same damages twice. Consulting with an experienced local attorney can help a family decide whether suing on their child’s behalf or waiting for the child to bring their own suit is the better course of action.
Get in Touch with a Philadelphia Child Injury Attorney
Parents should not try to handle negotiating a settlement in a child injury case alone. There are many complicated factors in these cases, and it takes a seasoned legal professional to obtain a settlement or damages award that adequately compensates a family for an injury to a child.
Get started on your child’s claim by contacting a Philadelphia child injury lawyer. Call today for a complimentary case review.