8-year-old Bryce ended up in the emergency room in January 2016 during a game of tag at school. The boy suffered "a fractured nose and two fractured wrists." This incident sparked the concern of rising school bullying incidents among parents.
It is natural for children to get hurt when they play. It is a part of growing up. But if things get out of hand, it can be fatal. So what would you do if your child gets hurt due to someone else's negligence?
Working parents often do not have too many options and have to trust relatives, babysitters or strangers (at the school or daycare center) to take care of their children. It is the responsibility of the relative, babysitter, or school/daycare center to ensure the safety and security of the children they look after, but they often fail to keep up with their responsibilities. As a result, a child can suffer life-altering injuries.
Parents have the legal right to file a lawsuit if their child gets injured due to someone else's negligence. To understand this better, let's consider the following example:
A 10-year-old child (the plaintiff's son) in Indianapolis suffered eye injuries when playing with a BB gun pellet as he was playing in the backyard of the defendant's house. The defendant was not vigilant about their son using a BB gun on his 10-year old guest. As a result, the latter was seriously injured and his parents filed a child injury case due to negligence against the defendant. Had the defendant been vigilant about the whole situation, the plaintiff's son's injury could have been prevented. As per law, it was the responsibility of the defendant to exercise reasonable care towards his guest. The plaintiff's parents won the case against the defendant and received a six-figure compensation with help of a personal injury lawyer.
However, each state in the USA has a limit (known as statute of limitations) on the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit in civil court following an injury. For instance, the statutes of limitations in Indiana is two years. So, if you too live in Indianapolis and have faced a situation where your child got injured due to someone else's negligence, it is advised to consult an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer to discuss the prospects of your case. Such consultations are usually free of cost. The lawyer can also help you file a case against the defendant and represent you in the court.
However, there are a few things you should know before proceeding to the court.
When Can Parents Sue for Their Child's Injuries?
Before parents file a case, it is important to know whether or not they have a case to fight for. Often, children get injured as a result of an accident, where no one's fault can be clearly established. So, parents need to find out how the injuries occurred.
Every school (including the administration and teachers) has the legal duty of care to ensure that the students are safe on its premises. This means all possible reasonable actions must be taken to ensure the protection of the students. The authorities need to provide a safe environment to the students by eliminating dangerous or hazardous situations in a timely manner. It is not only schools, but daycare centers also bear the same legal duty of care.
If parents can prove the concerned authority or the person responsible for taking care failed to protect their children from harm, injury or death, then they can file a case against the liable party. The injuries can occur in the school, during a school-sponsored event/activity, or when a teacher/caretaker is assisting a student.
Some acts that constitute negligence are:
- Accident caused by a school bus
- Food poisoning at school/daycare centre/ relative's home
- Slip and fall on the premises
- Exposure to asbestos
- Injuries due to man-made disasters, etc.
What to Do If Your Child Gets Injured
If your child gets injured due to any reason, the parent's first responsibility is to seek immediate treatment for the injuries. Learn the extent of the child's injuries. It is natural for parents to feel anxious in such situations but refrain from taking any decision in haste. Consult an experienced lawyer. Talk to your child and get as much information as possible about the incident, and convey it to the lawyer. This will help your lawyer determine whether or not you have a case worth fighting for. In the meantime, do not give the insurance adjuster any statement without your lawyer's approval. Even the smallest mistake can work against you.
Parents often try to exaggerate the injuries to make their case stronger, but this may be a big mistake. Remember, insurance companies will try their best to prove their client (the school, daycare centre or the relative who was taking care of your child) was not at fault. If they succeed in doing so, you may lose the case. So stick to the facts only.
- Parents must refrain from:
- Discussing the case openly with others (including neighbors, relatives, friends, colleagues, etc.).
- Discussing the case on social media.
- Making comments about the defendants.
Instead, focus on collecting the evidence that may prove negligence and breach of the duty of care. Hire an experienced lawyer and make sure you (and your child) are well prepared before appearing in court. Also work with your lawyer to receive adequate compensation for the injuries caused.
While sustaining minor injuries is a normal part of childhood, some serious accidents happen due to sheer negligence. If children get injured due to someone else's negligence, then parents must never hesitate to initiate legal proceedings in court. However, it is recommended that parents work with an experienced lawyer to ensure they have a strong case and get compensated appropriately.