Child injury lawsuits are fairly common. In most cases, child injury lawsuits are based on negligence. This means that the injury resulted from an accident, rather than an intentional act where the child acted with the purpose and intent of harm. An example of negligence is where the child is injured due to dangerous conditions on the premises (common for playgrounds).
In most cases, legal remedies in a child injury lawsuit consist of a monetary damages award. This will cover losses caused by the injury, such as medical expenses, hospital bills, etc. In some cases, the court may issue an injunction ordering the liable party to take certain action. Usually the injunction requires changes to the safety policies.
What are Some Common Types of Child Injuries?
Other types of child injuries that commonly form the basis of a civil lawsuit may include:
- Child injuries at school or at daycare;
- Injuries resulting from being on vacant property;
- School bus and transportation-related injuries;
- Injuries resulting from holiday accidents;
- Injuries resulting from defective toys such as electronic skateboards, products, bicycles, etc;
- Injuries caused by poor medical treatment, such as poor pediatric surgery; and/or
- Youth sport injuries.
There are many other different types of child injury claims. As mentioned, most of the claims involve some form of negligence on behalf of a caretaker or other person who is in charge of the child.
Who is Liable for Child Injuries?
Not all persons can be held liable for a child's injuries resulting from negligence. Basically, the person has to owe the child a legal duty of care to be liable. These can include persons like:
- Parents, guardians, or custodians of the child;
- Teachers, principals and other educational professionals;
- Persons charged with temporary care of the child such as a daycare worker, school bus drivers, babysitters, etc.;
- Manufacturers who owe a duty to create and produce safe toys; and/or
- Social workers and other persons who may be dealing with the child.
What if the Injury was the Result of a Defective Product?
Defective products make up a large portion of many child injury lawsuits. These types of claims can involve many different products, including toys, clothing items, children’s food items, children’s furniture, school items, and other products. Children’s products can be defective in various ways; these can include:
- Warning Defects: These types of defects occur where there is a missing warning label, missing or incorrect warning information in the instruction manual, and other similar issues with safety warnings.
- Manufacturing Defects: These types of defects have to do with the way the children’s product is assembled or put together.
- For instance, if a children’s bicycle is assembled without the proper brake mechanism, and it leads to an injury, the manufacturer might be held liable.
- Design Defects: These types of children’s product defects involve errors, oversights, or other inconsistencies during the design phase of the product.
- For instance, if a children’s chair is designed in a way that does not allow it to support the weight of the child, the manufacturer may be held liable if the product causes injury.
In order to prove a product defect claim, it is generally necessary to show that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer, and that the product was not altered in any way before it reached the consumer. In cases where there is the danger that a children’s product might be causing injury to many consumers, it may become subject to a product recall.
Are there Any Defenses to Child Injury Claims?
What happens if the child contributed to his or her own injuries? Situations where the victim caused their own injury is called “contributory negligence”. This is somewhat common in negligence lawsuits. If this is a factor in the lawsuit, the court will have to conduct a detailed analysis to determine whether the victim’s damages should be reduced or limited.
Unlike adults, determining a child’s negligence is different. Special standards are used to determine a child's liability. Children are only expected to behave in a way that is “reasonable” compared to other children. Common factors include:
- Educational level; and
- Experience under the same circumstances.
So, for example, children at the age of 3 can’t be expected to understand and follow warning signs, the reason being most children at that age can’t read yet.
However, an established case showed that a child as young as five years old can be held accountable for pulling a prank that badly injured the victim. While the five year-old might not have been able to anticipate the nature of the injuries, they court found that they did understand the nature of their actions and did it with purpose.
Should I Get a Lawyer If I Have a Child Injury Lawsuit?
Child injury claims can be complicated. Each state has different injury laws, and one children’s product might be very different from another. You may wish to contact a personal injury lawyer near you if you have any legal disputes involving a child. Your attorney can help represent you in court so that you can get the appropriate type of legal relief.