Infant Injury Lawyers

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 What Kinds of Infant Injury Claims Exist?

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.

Can Criminal Charges Be Brought for Infant Injury?

If a child is the victim of criminal conduct on the part of their parent or other adult, criminal charges can be filed. The exact charges that are brought would depend on the exact conduct of the perpetrator and how the infant sustained the injury. Leaving a child home alone if the child is too young is a crime in most states. If a person suspects that the parent of a child engaged in conduct that inflicted injury on an infant, they should report this to the police.

All states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia, have statutes that identify specific professionals and other persons who are required to report instances of suspected child abuse and neglect. So, if any of the professionals or others identified in a state statute suspect that a parent or guardian has engaged in abuse or neglect, the law mandates that they report their suspicions to the designated local child protective agency. The statutes protect mandatory reporters from any possible liability, but some of them do impose penalties for failure to report when reporting is required.

In 18 States and Puerto Rico, the law requires any person who suspects child abuse or neglect to report their suspicisons to the appropriate authority. Fifteen of the 18 states and Puerto Rico specify in their law certain professionals who must report, but also require all persons to report suspected abuse or neglect. This means that the duty to report does not depend on a person’s profession. The law in the other three states, Indiana, New Jersey, and Wyoming, requires all people to report without specifying any professions.

In all other states in the U.S., territories of the U.S., and the District of Columbia, any person is permitted to report. These voluntary reporters of suspected abuse or neglect are often referred to as “permissive reporters”.

Among the professionals who are mandated reporters are social workers, teachers, school principals, other school personnel, doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers, counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals, child care providers, medical examiners, and law enforcement officers

In addition, every state in the U.S. has an agency of government whose mission is to protect the welfare of children in the state or locality. It might be known by the name of “child protective services” or “child welfare services.” It might be an agency of a county government or of a state government.

For example, in Colorado there is the state Division of Child Welfare. It is an agency that addresses the health and welfare of children in Colorado. Its goals are as follows:

  • To improve the capacity of families to protect and care for their own children;
  • To lessen the risk of harm to children and youth; and
  • To ensure timely permanent planning for children who cannot return to their family homes because safety is not possible within their family.

So, any person who knows an infant who may be abused or neglected in their family home or elsewhere should identify the agency in their state or county that is responsible for child welfare and report their knowledge to an agency employee. The law protects the identities of reporters of abuse and neglect and protects them from liability.

What Kind of Damages Are Awarded in Personal Injury Suits?

Again, the standard remedy for negligence or personal injury, whether for medical malpractice or some other type of negligence, is an award of money damages. The damages should compensate the victims for all of the losses they suffer because of their injury.

So, damages should cover the costs of all medical care, lost wages, future care, losses due to long-term or permanent consequences of injury, if there are any, pain and suffering and on occasion, punitive damages.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are the parent of an infant who has been injured by the negligence of another or a defective product, you really should consult a personal injury lawyer to discuss your situation.
Your lawyer can analyze the facts of your case and advise you about the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages.

If you are a professional who is a mandatory reporter of suspected child abuse or neglect, you want to be sure to follow through on the reporting requirements provided in your state’s statute. You have probably received training on the mandatory requirement that applies to your profession, but a supervisor or professional association in your state might be able to assist you, if you are not clear on what you need to do in a particular situation.

If you are not a professional but must report per your state’s law or wish to report, the law protects you; you should contact your state or local child welfare agency and discuss the situation with an employee of the agency.

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