Injuries To Children Attorney

Tulsa Injuries To Children Attorney

Though unintentional injuries involving children have been steadily decreasing in the United States, they are still the leading cause of death for children under 18 years old. Children of certain age groups tend to be more prone to particular types of injuries. While the rate of unintentional injuries to children has decreased overall, there have been increases in injuries to children within particular segments of the population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 7,000 children aged 0-19 years died as the result of unintentional injuries in 2019. Statistics show there are certain characteristics of children and their environment that makes a particular injury more likely to happen to a particular child.

Injuries to children tug at the heartstrings of everyone. Children are some of the people most vulnerable to the neglect, abuse, and carelessness of adults. When children suffer injuries because adults do not do what they should, children have the right to be compensated for their injuries.

Why Claims for Injuries to Children Require a Tulsa Child Injury Lawyer

Injuries to children can cause damage that will change the life that a child might otherwise have had. Because children are so young, injuries may continue to impact their lives for a very long time. Care must be taken to fully assess the likely impact a childhood injury will have on the child becoming an adult and living the rest of their life.

A personal injury attorney experienced in handling injuries to children knows how children can be more affected by injuries and the possible longer-term consequences of their injuries. A Tulsa child injury attorney will identify who may be liable under Oklahoma law and will investigate and prove responsibility so that an injured child is able to receive the care they need and get the compensation they are entitled to.

Standard of Care Expected of Children

Children are still in the process of growing up and are not expected to have the same decision-making skills as an adult. The behavior of children is generally evaluated based on what other children of similar age would do. As children get older and engage in behaviors more similar to adults, their behavior is evaluated accordingly. There are occasions when a child’s behavior is such that the child is held to an adult standard.

Standard of Care for Adults with Respect to Children

The standard of care that adults must exercise with respect to other adults is that of a reasonable person under similar circumstances. But because children are not yet expected to behave like other reasonable adults, there are situations in which adults must exercise a higher standard of care when it comes to children. Adults are required to take extra measures to help keep children safe from risks that may cause them injuries.

Ways Children Can Get Seriously Injured or Killed

There are always going to be bumps and bruises along the way as children grow and explore the world but many of the more serious injuries that children suffer are preventable. Some of the leading causes of unintentional injuries to children include:

  • Car accidents – In 2019, more than 91,000 children under age 12 were injured, and 608 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, according to the CDC.
  • Suffocation – Suffocation typically occurs to very young children and is often caused by unsafe bedding or choking on a small object.
  • Drowning – The Children’s Safety Network reports that almost 900 children ages 0-19 die every year in the United States from drowning.
  • Poisoning – Children are most often poisoned by items found in the home – medicines, cleaning products, insect sprays, or cosmetics.
  • Fires – Every year, approximately 488 children aged 14 and under die in house fires, and 116,600 are injured in fire-related accidents.
  • Falling – Each year, about 200,000 children ages 14 or under need hospital treatment due to falls from playground equipment. Stanford Children’s Health says more than 2.2 million children under age 14 receive medical treatment annually for fall-related injuries.
  • Dog bites – There are more than 4.7 million dog bites every year in the United States and over half of those bites happen to children, says Kids-n-K9s.
  • Defective products – Defective toys, baby products, and sporting or gaming equipment cause thousands of injuries to children.
  • Birth injuries – In the United States, 6 to 8 of every 1,000 babies are born with a birth injury. About 50% of those injuries are due to medical malpractice.
The Consequences of Injuries to Children

The same forces that can cause injuries to adults are even more destructive to children. Not only are children’s bodies smaller but they are not fully developed and are less able to defend against the cause of injury. Children can suffer debilitating injuries that result in permanent impairment and may require life-long care and treatment.

  • Brain injuries – Brain damage can result from the impact of a car crash or from lack of oxygen in an incident of drowning or suffocation. Exposure to poisons can affect the ability of a child’s brain to develop properly.
  • Lung damage – Non-fatal drowning can occur after a child is submerged underwater and can cause permanent damage.
  • Burns – Children have thinner skin than adults and are more susceptible to greater damage from fire and scalding which can result in scarring and disfigurement.
    Head, neck, and back injuries – Falls and car accidents are common causes of injuries to the head, neck, and back.
  • Broken bones – Crashes and falls result in fractures – often in arms, fingers, and toes.
  • Facial lacerations and puncture wounds – Dog bites can cause serious damage to a child’s face, head, and neck, requiring reconstructive surgery.
  • Psychological trauma – Children may develop psychological symptoms after a traumatic accident or event that can interfere with daily functioning and require clinical treatment.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Injuries to Children?

When a child gets injured, the party or parties liable for the damage are the persons or entities that had the responsibility to look out for the child’s safety and failed to adequately fulfill that responsibility. Parties potentially liable for injuries to children can be:

  • School employees
  • Daycare facilities/employees
  • Babysitter/caregiver
  • Property owners/possessors
  • Pet owners
  • Product manufacturers
  • Parents of other children
  • Lifeguards
  • Motorists
  • Medical providers
Property Owners’ Responsibility to Trespassing Children

The law in Oklahoma does not impose any responsibility on property owners or possessors to protect trespassers from hazards on property they control – unless the trespasser is a child.

When a child is injured or dies due to a highly dangerous artificial condition on a property, the possessor of the property may be liable even though the child trespassed on the property if the child lacked the ability to understand the danger posed by the condition and the possessor knew or should have known:

  • That a child or children would likely to trespass
  • That the condition on the property would pose a risk of attracting children
  • That the condition on the property posed an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death

Additionally, if the burden on the possessor to eliminate the condition was outweighed by the risk posed to children, the property owner could be held liable.

Oklahoma’s Parental Responsibility Law

Oklahoma’s parental responsibility law makes parents liable for the injuries caused by their minor children. If a child is injured by another child under the age of 18 years that lives with his or her parents, the parents of the child causing the injury will be held liable for damages to the injured child up to $2,500.

Compensation for Injuries to Children

Children have the right to be compensated for their injuries and medical expenses, just as adults do. But because children – under the age of 18 years – are not legally able to file a lawsuit or consent to a settlement agreement, a parent or guardian must act on behalf of a child when obtaining legal advice or dealing with medical bills and insurance companies.

When a settlement agreement is reached in a child injury case, it cannot become final until it is approved by a judge. If an award to a child is more than $1,000, the funds must be deposited in a federally insured account until the child reaches 18 years. To withdraw the money any earlier requires a court order.

Time Limits for Bringing Child Injury Claims

The general statute of limitations in Oklahoma for bringing personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the injury. However, the rules are different when the persons who are injured are under age 18 at the time of the injury.

If a child is injured when under age 12, the child’s parents have seven years in which to bring a personal injury claim on behalf of the child. If a child is 12 or older at the time of the injury, the parents have just two years to bring an action on the child’s behalf. When an injury occurs to a child of at least 12 years and the parents either do not seek recovery or do not obtain a full recovery, the child has one year from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit.

Get a free consultation and learn more about the legal options for getting compensation for an injured child, call the law firm of Graves McLain at 918-359-6600 to schedule a free case evaluation

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