Was your child injured? If your child was hurt by the actions, or failure to act, of another person, your family has certain legal rights. This page will inform you about those rights, the most common forms of child injury, and what you can do to set your world right. Nothing is more devastating than a serious injury, especially when that injury has been suffered by a child.
Unfortunately, because of their diminished cognitive powers, reasoning capabilities, and lack of life experience, children are more likely to be injured in accidents than any other age or developmental group. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries and accidents are the leading cause of fatality among children. In fact, 12,175 children die every year in accidents or from injuries that result from accidents. But the problem goes further than that. Every year, a staggering amount of children suffer unintentional injuries. Some reports put the number of children admitted to hospitals after accidents as high as 9.2 million annually.
Common Forms Of Child Injury
In most states, a “child” is legally defined as anyone under the age of 14, in contrast to a “minor,” between 14 and 18 years old. Because of their age, size, and inherent lack of adult faculties, children are afforded certain additional legal protections that older citizens do not enjoy. As we will see, children are also exposed to numerous dangers that adults without children would never consider. We know that, as a parent, you would go to every length to protect your child’s well-being. But when others do not take the same caution, and children are seriously injured, the future may seem hopeless. But there is a way – a way to support your child’s recovery, a way to give them the happy life they deserve.
Children Injured In Car Accidents
The CDC reports that, of all unintentional injuries, “motor vehicle traffic – related” accidents are the leading cause of death among those between 0 and 19 years of age. Many of these accidents occur right here, on the busy streets of New York. Children lack the developed perceptual and decision-making skills of adults. In many cases, they also lack the life experience that instructs us to be aware of streets and speeding cars. Places where children congregate, like schools, often employ strict driving laws to reduce car accidents that affect children. Designated street crossing zones, or crosswalks, and low-speed limits are just two examples. When drivers fail to honor the laws that limit their behavior around children, our younger loved ones can suffer serious injury. If another resident of New York was negligent in their driving, and injured your child, they can be held liable in a court of law.
Common Types Of Car Accidents
In an important study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that approximately 694 children between the ages of 0 and 14 are injured in car accidents every day. Where traffic accidents are concerned (as opposed to “vehicle occupant” accidents), children are injured in two primary types of accident: front-over and back-over.
Front-over Accidents occur when drivers strike an unseen child with the front of their vehicle. In most cases, front-over accidents are caused by people who are driving slowly, in front of driveways or in parking lots. Tragically, the victims of front-over accidents are most commonly between 12 and 23 months old. Tellingly, more than 80% of front-over accidents involving children are caused by larger vehicles, like SUVs and vans, because their drivers are much higher and cannot see children below.
Back-over Accidents occur when drivers back into, or over, an unseen child behind their vehicle. SUVs can have a blind spot in excess of 8 feet wide and 50 feet long. It’s no surprise then that more than 60% of back-over accidents are caused by large vehicles. Every week, 50 American children are injured in back-over car accidents.
Thankfully, NHTSA issued a rule in April 2014 requiring that all new “light vehicles”, which includes SUVs, trucks, and vans, are to have backup cameras. However, this does not remove the problem in that there will be many vehicles on the roads for years and years to come that do not have this safety feature.
Defective Products, Including Toys & Car Seats
As late as 2007, toys distributed widely in America were still being recalled from store shelves. Coated in potentially-fatal lead paints or containing tiny, removable pieces that can easily be swallowed, numerous product lines were deemed unsafe by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Sometimes, it seems as though product manufacturers, especially toy companies, are more interested in cutting corners and maximizing profits than protecting our children. When children are put in harm’s way by unsafe products, personal injury lawyers can hold large companies accountable. In terms of defective products, a particular area of concern is car seats. In the past, and this trend continues into the future, specific models of child car seats have been found defective in the following ways:
- Handles that break under normal strain
- Constructed from flammable materials
- Faulty seat buckles
- Padded base separates from car seat shell
Unfortunately, many car seat defects are only discovered after children have been injured due to their failure. If your child was injured, or tragically killed, because of a defective car seat, it is essential to pursue those responsible. In filing a personal injury lawsuit, you can help to keep the industry safe for other children the world over.
Child Bicycle Injuries
The NHTSA reports that 69% of all traffic accidents that involve bicycles occur in urban areas, like the boroughs of New York City. Moreover, 23% of all bicyclists injured in 2011 were under the age of 15. As one would expect, many bicycle accident injuries suffered by children are caused by traffic accidents. But many can also be attributed to defective bicycle helmets, helmets that fit incorrectly, or those with shoulder straps that unclip during use.
For adults, falls can be extremely dangerous, especially those in which the head is injured. But because a child’s brain has not yet finished developing, head trauma can be particularly devastating. The only thing more surprising than the extensive harm that falls can inflict upon children is how often they occur. The CDC reports that “falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for all children ages 0 to 19. Every day, approximately 8,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for fall-related injuries.”
The owners of both residences and businesses have a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors. If a hazard is left unattended, and a serious fall occurs, property owners may be held responsible for their negligence in a personal injury lawsuit. This legal doctrine is known as “premises liability,” both in New York and elsewhere. But the law’s protection stops at those who are either explicitly or implicitly invited onto a premises, at least for adults. But for children, another understanding applies, one called “attractive nuisance.” Attractive nuisance holds that property owners can be held liable for the injuries of a child, even if that child was technically “trespassing” on their property. The idea is simple: children are more likely than adults to disregard the boundaries of “private property.” They can veer off the beaten path, into neighbor’s backyards for example. Even under these circumstances, owners of property can be held responsible for the dangerous hazards that exist under their possession.
Burns and Scarring
Burn injuries are extremely common among children, especially very young children. According to Safe Kids USA, the fatality rate for children under 4 who suffer burns is twice that of 5 to 9 years old. Children are vulnerable to numerous electrical hazards, as they are to most other hazards. You protect your child from dangers, but are others doing the same? Particular hazards include:
- Extension cords
- Wall outlets
- Scalding hot water
- Extremely hot foods and liquids
Day care centers and registered care providers have a duty to keep your child safe from harm. If they have neglected that duty, and your child was injured, you have the right to hold them accountable through legal proceedings.
Toys are meant to stimulate our children’s bodies and minds, not harm them. But 44% of all choking incidents among young children are caused by small, detachable toy pieces. While choking accidents in children are most commonly associated with unsafe toys, children can find dangerously small objects anywhere. If day care centers are not kept in safe condition, including free of all small objects, a naturally curious child can be put in harm’s way. Thankfully, negligent parties may be held responsible by an experienced personal injury lawyer.
On The Playground And In Pools
More than 200,000 children are injured on playgrounds every year. Many of these accidents involve climbing equipment, from which kids can easily fall. And even though playgrounds include an inherent element of risk, those who design, construct, and maintain them are obligated to make them as safe as possible. Still, many playgrounds across New York City are home to defective equipment that threatens the lives of children every day.
In addition, public and private swimming pools and clubs across New York are required to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of those using their facilities. That means maintaining the property and ensuring there are a sufficient number of qualified life guards on duty at all times. Private residence pools can also be an issue where pools are not enclosed by fences with a properly locked gate to prevent young children from wandering in and drowning.
My Child Was Injured. What Do I Do Next?
No matter where in New York you live, the personal injury lawyers at Banville Law want to help. There is nothing more precious than the life of a child, and we will do everything in our power to protect your child’s right and ensure a healthy recovery and bountiful life. If that means standing up to big insurance companies for necessary compensation, we’re prepared. If it means filing a personal injury lawsuit against negligent parties, we will fight with all the resources at our disposal. Our firm has assisted clients in:
- Staten Island
- The Bronx
- Queens County
- Long Island
- Suffolk County
- Kings County
You deserve justice. In many cases, you may also deserve valuable compensation, money to cover medical expenses and any other costs that have resulted from your child’s accident. As with all of our legal services, our attorneys work on a contingency-fee basis – you owe us nothing unless we win your case.