Child injuries are inevitable. Children are exposed to toxins, dangerous toys such as bicycles, bullies, etc., every day. For working parents, the possibility of child injury is even more likely. Daycare centers, afterschool programs, or nannies can potentially harm your child. Provided below is a general summary of child safety laws and parental responsibility/rights when an injury occurs.
Child Seat Belt Laws
Restraints are categorized in three stages:
- Infant’s use rear-facing seats
- Toddlers use forward-facing child safety seats
- Older children use booster seats
On top of restraints, children are required by law to sit in the back seat until they are 13 years of age.
When Are Parents Criminally Liable for Their Kids’ Injuries?
Parents are held criminally liable when their negligence, intentionality, or criminal acts lead to child injury. Usually, parents are not held criminally liable until a child turns eight to ten years old, and liability is discontinued when the child reaches 18 years of age.
Child crime is either civil or criminal. Civil cases involve monetary damages, and criminal cases involve a violation of the law.
Parents are usually held responsible for malicious acts or property damage conducted by their children. This is called civil parental liability. In these cases, parents are only responsible for financial loss of the party harmed by the child’s actions.
In 43 states, parents can be held responsible for "contributing to the delinquency of a minor". The two most common criminal liability cases include firearm and internet crime. It is illegal in 28 states for a parent to leave a firearm within reach of a child. In some states, parents are held responsible for internet crimes such as: cyberbullying, making fraudulent accounts, identity theft, etc.
What Laws Concern Child Safety?
Federal Child Welfare Policies include:
- Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
- Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act
- Family Preservation and Family Support Services Program
- Child Welfare Waiver Program
- Adoption and Safe Families Act
- Strengthening Abuse and Neglect Courts Act
- Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments
Along with general child welfare laws, several states have passed anti-bullying laws. Students are 7 to 9% more likely to commit suicide if they are a victim are bullying.
If parents have a child who has been affected by bullying (i.e. mental or emotional damage, physical injury or death) they may have a lawsuit. Parents can file a claim against the school or school district for failing to protect the child. Schools or school districts may also be responsible if a child falls or injures himself due to the schools negligence.
When Are Companies Liable for Dangerous Toys?
Product liability claims can be filed by parents if their child is injured as a result of a defective toy such as an electronic skateboard. The legal basis for such claims is negligence of the designer or manufacturer.
Parents must prove the following in such a case:
- The product was defective
- The designer or manufacturer’s negligence caused the product to be defective
- As a direct result of the negligence in the design or manufacture of the product, the child was injured
- The child’s injuries resulted in compensable damages.
Unfortunately, toy-related injuries occur far too often. In 2008, an estimated 235,300 toy-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms. The estimated annual number of toy-related injuries from 2006-2008 is 229,600.
The most common injuries are:
- Bruising and abrasions
- Bone fractures
- Puncture wounds
Can I Sue for My Child’s Injuries?
If proof of negligence exists, almost all parents of children injured have a case. If your child was injured under another party’s supervision, you may have a case if negligence exists.
Parents must prove three aspects to make your case legitimate:
- The party responsible for negligence accepted responsibility of supervising the child
- Proof that the caregiver failed to properly monitor the child
- Proof that the child’s injury was directly caused by the supervisor’s negligence in proper supervision.
Anyone who verbally agrees to supervise a child in the absence of a parent can be held responsible for negligent supervision if an injury occurred. Parties can include, teachers, schools, nannies, churches, etc.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If your child has been injured by the negligence or the intentional actions of another, then you should consider talking with a personal injury lawyer about receiving compensation for your child’s injuries.