If an infant has been injured, the person whose conduct caused the injury may be held legally responsible. There are many different ways an infant can be injured, and the kind of legal action that is taken would depend on how the incident that caused the injury came about, as well as the nature of the injury.
Some of the kinds of claims that may arise from an incident in which an infant is injured are as follows:
- Strict Product Liability: If an infant is injured because of a defective product, it is possible to file a strict product liability suit. Product liability suits can be filed against any party in the chain from the manufacturer of a product to the distributors of it. Product manufacturers, retail sellers, baby product companies, and distributors are all potential defendants in a product liability suit.In a strict product liability lawsuit, the parents or guardians of the injured infant would not have to prove that the manufacturers or distributors of the product that injured the infant were negligent in any way. Rather they would only have to prove that the product was defective and the defect caused injury to the infant.
- Child Neglect: Neglect occurs when a parent or guardian fails to fulfill the duty of care they owe to their child. A duty of care is the legal responsibility that a parent has to meet the needs of a vulnerable party such as their infant child. Parental neglect can range from something a parent did not do to something the parent did, but did incorrectly, partially, or inadequately. Child neglect can be neglect of the medical needs of a child. If an infant is injured because the parent failed to fulfill their duty of care, the parent can be held accountable for neglect.
- Medical Malpractice: A medical malpractice case is also based on the duty of care that healthcare providers owe to their patients. If a doctor or other healthcare provider breaches the duty of care through improper medical treatment, unnecessary treatment, or treatment (or lack of treatment) that leads to injury, the provider can be sued for malpractice. The standard remedy for medical malpractice is an award of money damages. Medical malpractice is a form of negligence, so the damages awarded would be the same as those for any type of negligence, as noted below.
- Success in a medical malpractice would depend on proving that the injury to the infant was directly caused by treatment that did not meet the standard of care of comparable medical professionals. Medical malpractice can also be based on a lack of treatment, e.g. a failure to diagnose and treat a condition that a comparable medical professional would have diagnosed and treated.
- The parents or guardians of an injured infant would file a lawsuit and would have to show that a healthcare provider’s malpractice was the direct cause of injury to their infant child.
- General Negligence: Every person owes a duty of care to every other person in the course of their daily activities. So, for example, every driver on the road owes a duty to those around them, e.g. other drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, on the roadways to exercise due care in the operation of their vehicle.
- People who care for infants owe them and their parents or guardians a duty of care also. So, for example, day care providers, babysitters, nursery schools and other people or entities engaged in the care of infant children owe a duty of care to the infant and its parents or guardians. If they breach their duty of care, and the breach is the direct cause of injury to the infant, they can be liable for negligence. Lawsuits for negligence are generally referred to as “personal injury” lawsuits.
- The standard remedy for negligence is the payment of money damages to compensate injured victims for any losses stemming from their injury. So, in the case of an infant, damages would reimburse the parents for the costs of medical care, lost wages if they must take time off work to care for their injured infant or to obtain medical care for the infant.
Damages to compensate the infant and its parents for their pain and suffering would also be possible, depending on the facts of the case. If the infant can be expected to suffer long-term or permanent physical consequences, damage to compensate for these losses would also be recoverable. In the rare case, the facts might justify an award of punitive damages as well.