A serious injury to a child is a parent’s greatest nightmare. It is even worse when the accident was someone else’s fault. Parents must make sure that their children receive the medical care that they need to recover to the greatest extent possible. In some cases, children will never recover fully if they even survive the accident.

Parents can hold the responsible party accountable for their child’s injuries with a personal injury lawsuit when they contact an attorney to help fight for their child’s legal rights. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we help injury victims of all ages seek justice and financial recovery. Do not wait to learn how our Phoenix child injury attorneys can help your family.

Why Children Suffer Injuries More Often and More Severely

Children are more vulnerable to personal injuries than others for many reasons:

  • They lead very active lifestyles
  • Children do not often take the proper caution when doing things like riding bicycles or crossing the street
  • Other people may not take the necessary amount of care that it takes to see children
  • Their bodies are smaller, and they are more likely to suffer serious injuries in an accident

Ways that Children Sustain Injuries

Many things can injure children can suffer harm in many ways, including:

Sometimes, an accident results in relatively minor problems, and a child can bounce back quickly with home first aid. In other situations, however, a child will need emergency medical care and might face injury-related struggles for a long time.

Child Injury Statistics

The statistics on child injuries are alarming. Each year, roughly 12,000 children die from unintentional injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control, transportation-related accidents cause the most child deaths each year. Drowning and burns are behind car accidents as leading causes of death. Even when the injury is non-fatal, it can lead to significant costs, both in the short and long term.

Over nine million children receive treatment in a hospital each year for injuries. Some of these are routine childhood incidents that truly are accidents. Others are someone else’s fault, possibly entitling the family to financial compensation from the liable parties.

First, the family needs to begin the claims or lawsuit process. Research shows that falls are one of the leading causes of injury among children each year. Almost one-third of the hospital visits happen due to falls. Not every one of these falls is the fault of the child. Property owners owe a duty to children to act reasonably to keep them safe on their property.

Why Children Need Hospitalization for Injuries

Other common causes of child hospitalization include:

  • Dog bites
  • Insect stings
  • Getting hit by an object
  • Sports-related injuries
  • Injuries at an amusement park or recreational facility
  • Exposure to chemicals

The younger the child, the higher the likelihood of serious injury. Children less than one year of age have the greatest chance of dying in an accident. The leading cause of death among children less than one is suffocation. From the age of 15-19, auto accidents are the leading cause of injuries and death.

Possible Defendants in a Child Injury Lawsuit

You can hold many possible defendants legally accountable for an injury to your child. They include:

  • The school district or school where your child sustained injuries
  • The owner of an amusement park or recreational areas
  • Parents of other children, if your child suffered injuries in their home
  • Physicians who treat your child
  • The maker of a toy or device that injured your child

The Costs of an Injury to Your Child

While child injury cases operate according to the same legal principles as any other case, there are different considerations at work. First, parents are filing lawsuits on behalf of their children, and they can use the money they recover to treat the child for the rest of their lives. This is even more important when the child suffered a serious injury. Parents need to look years into the future to figure out what their child will need while caring for their child today.

Injuries to children can impose an entirely different type of cost than one to an adult. For example, if the child has suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident, they may need special education that comes at a steep cost. They may even need intensive around-the-clock care. This does not include the costs that parents must incur to take care of the children.

Premises Liability Lawsuits for an Injury to Your Child

One of the most common types of child injury lawsuits is a premises liability case. This includes things like falls and swimming pool injuries. This is where parents will file a lawsuit against the owner of a property for the failure to reasonable care. The property owner will owe an even higher standard of care towards children. To win this common type of case, parents will need to prove:

  • The defendant owned, occupied, or leased the property or area where your child was hurt
  • The defendant was negligent in their use of the property
  • Your child suffered harm
  • The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing that harm

Strict Liability Lawsuits for Child Injuries

There are only two types of child injury personal injury cases where you will not need to prove negligence as the basis for your claim. They are:

  • Dog bite cases – Arizona law is that the dog owner is strictly liable for any bite injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether the dog has bitten anyone before (unless the dog owner can prove that the child provoked the dog).
  • Product liability cases – For things such as defective toys, you deserve compensation if you can prove that there was a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect.

Proving Negligence for a Child Injury Lawsuit

Other than that, you must prove that someone else was negligent. There are four parts to this test:

  • The defendant owed your child the duty of care.
  • They breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances.
  • Your child suffered an injury.
  • Your child would not have suffered injuries had it not been for the actions of the defendant.

Dealing With an Insurance Company for a Child Injury Claim

Numerous challenges go along with a child injury lawsuit. One of the common difficulties that parents face is in estimating the amount of money necessary to compensate for the child’s injuries. It is much more difficult to see years into the future to know how much will be needed to treat and care for the child. The insurance company may be more than happy to settle a claim for far less than it is worth.

Your Settlement Must Consider the Future for Your Child

Remember, when you are making a settlement decision, you are trying to take care of your child years into the future, perhaps for their entire adult lives. This is why it is crucial to understand the full value of the claim before you accept any settlement agreement. Every settlement agreement will require you to sign a release clause, meaning that you are signing away the right to come back for more money in the future if you settle for too little.

At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we have helped thousands of injured Arizonans, and we handle many types of claims stemming from a variety of situations and injuries. We know how to properly value your claim. In difficult cases, we will work with experts to establish your damages and give you an idea of what you need to ask for in a court case or insurance claim. We can work with the following experts for your case:

  • Economic experts who can establish how costs may grow over the years (including the costs of health care)
  • Education experts who can testify about the special types of accommodations that the child may need, including special education
  • Health care experts to value the cost of the plan of care that the child may need now and in the future
  • Vocational experts who can testify about whether the child can work and what their earnings limitations may be due to their injury

You Must Get a Reasonable Amount for Your Settlement

It is crucial not to settle a claim for less than it is worth. Any money from a settlement agreement that is not needed to treat and care for the child now may be put aside for the benefit of the child as they get older. The last thing that you want is for them to have too little when they are an adult without the ability to support themselves. As a parent or guardian, you have the responsibility of looking out for your child now.

Damages in a Child Injury Lawsuit

Your child and your family may seek and receive the following damages in a lawsuit:

  • Medical costs to treat their injury now and in the future
  • Special education costs if your child requires a private school
  • Loss of consortium if the parents suffer deprivation of the child’s love and companionship due to the injury
  • Lost wages that the child could have earned in their lifetime if the injury leaves them unable to work
  • Lost wages that the parents forgo if they need to take care of their child
  • Pain and suffering
  • The emotional distress that the parents have suffered due to the injury
  • Wrongful death damages if the child died from the injury

How an Attorney Will Handle Your Case

There are many different variables in a child injury lawsuit. It begins with proving that the defendant actually caused the injuries. This involves gathering evidence and proving what happened in the case. When the child is unable to recount key details of the accident and their injury, families need an attorney who is skilled at assembling and investigating a case.

It is difficult for families to do this on their own, especially when they must care for an injured child. Defendants will take child injury cases very seriously, especially because the damages in this type of case may be higher than in a standard personal injury case. Since the child may suffer damage throughout their lifetime, defendants may need to pay more.

The Insurance Company Wants to Pay Less than Your Case Is Worth

Usually, there is an insurance company involved in these cases. They have one primary motivation at work. The insurance company wants to save themselves money by paying out as little as they can on your claim. However, they have another powerful motivation. They usually do not want to end up in front of a jury when there is an injured child involved. Seriously injured children make for very sympathetic plaintiffs, especially when there is a high degree of carelessness involved. The key is having someone on your side who can effectively negotiate with the insurance company.

You need an attorney with a reputation for aggressively fighting for their clients. When insurance companies have large potential claims, they know exactly who they are up against. They may take fewer liberties when they are up against a lawyer who they know will take the case to court. The threat of litigation is what you have going for you when the insurance company is being less than reasonable.

Phoenix Child Injury FAQ

When should I see a doctor about my child’s injury?

Parents should always err on the side of caution when dealing with their child’s health and well-being. Early treatment is very important in helping the child make a recovery to the fullest extent possible. Parents should not just assume that their child will be OK. It is always better to take the child to the doctor. If nothing ends up being wrong, that is the best result.

Even the child doesn’t appear to need medical help, parents should take the child to a doctor if:

  • The child is visibly in pain
  • The symptoms do not make any improvement
  • The child does not have full feeling in the area that has suffered an injury
  • There is excessive swelling and redness
  • Lumps appear in the affected area

Medical care after an injury is one area where it is much better to be safe than sorry. In addition, the insurance company may try to reduce a settlement payment if the parents have delayed medical treatment, arguing that the parents may not have done what they can to help their child.

What if the parents do not file a lawsuit?

The parents should file a lawsuit against the person responsible for their child’s injuries. They will need the money now to treat their injured child, including costs for medical care and special education if necessary. However, children have their own legal rights if their parents do not file a lawsuit on their behalf.

The usual statute of limitations for a personal injury in Arizona is two years. However, this works differently when a child is injured. The statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child turns 18. Thus, if the parents never filed a claim, when the child turns 18, they can file their own lawsuit, no matter how long it has been since the injury happened.

Are there any different rules if we sue our child’s school?

It depends if you sue a public or private school. If the lawsuit is against a private school, the usual rules apply to the case. A public school is a form of local government, so some different rules govern the lawsuit.

You will need to give written notice to the school district before you file a lawsuit. In addition, you will not have the same amount of time to bring your case. Since you are dealing with the government, you have only 180 days after the injury to file your claim.

This is a very tight timeframe that does not allow you to waste a day in building your case. You will need to hire a lawyer as soon as possible after your injury, so you can bring the case to court before the deadline.

In addition, Arizona imposes many hoops that you need to jump through to sue any agency of the government. Not only do you have less time, but you need to file a very specific claim.

Not only does your claim need to have specific facts supporting it, but you will also need to include a “specific amount for which a party can settle the claim and the facts supporting that amount.” This is very complicated, and you will need legal help.

Do Child Injury Lawsuits Usually Settle or Go to Trial?

In a child injury lawsuit, each side has a motivation to resolve the case without going to trial. For the parents, the bills are piling up quickly, and they will need settlement money to care for their child in the short term.

The justice that most parents are interested in the most is compensation. Waiting years to get their money will lead to financial hardships while the case is pending. Thus, parents need to compromise. However, this should not mean that they settle the case for less than it is worth to get a check.

For the insurance company, they know what can happen if the case is in front of a jury. Injured children make very sympathetic plaintiffs. If the facts of the case show negligence, the jury can have a strong reaction when it has seriously injured a child. In addition, child injury cases can lead to significant financial compensation. Defendants are afraid of juries in these cases, and for a good reason.

Each side wants to manage their own risk, so they will usually compromise and work everything through until they reach an agreement. Of course, if that does not happen, you should not hesitate to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your child.

How Can I Protect My Child’s Legal Rights?

Parents should do everything that they can after the accident to help build a legal case that can lead to compensation. We understand that parents are overwhelmed when they are dealing with an injured child, but they must devote some attention to the legal side of things to file a claim or lawsuit. In the short term, parents should save any evidence that can show that someone else was responsible for their child’s injury. In addition, if there is any short-term threat to their child’s health or safety, they should take immediate action.

The biggest thing that you can do to protect your child’s rights is to hire an experienced attorney to fight for them. At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we will work on behalf of your child, fighting to maximize their financial recovery while keeping others from enriching themselves at your family’s expense. An attorney knows all of the tricks that insurance companies will use to try to keep you from getting the money that the family needs to treat the child and pay the damages.

How Is a Settlement for a Child Handled?

The courts handle settlements for children differently than those for adults. Arizona law dictates how a party can make payments to minors. Settlements under $10,000 do not have to be approved by the court. Those over that amount must have the judge’s approval. This is important because settlements of child injury lawsuits often involve structured settlements or annuities. You will need an attorney who understands what a court may approve.

Even if the parents receive the settlement money, they have a legal obligation to protect and preserve the money unless there is not enough money to provide for the minor’s needs. If parents use settlement money for the minor’s benefit, they cannot pay themselves. They are only allowed to do that as reimbursement for the money that they have laid out for expenses. If parents use the money to pay for expenses, any unused money is turned over to the minor when they turn 18. However, many parents (often rightfully) do not trust an 18-year old with a large sum of money. This is why structured settlements may pay money every month.

What Happens if Another Child Causes Injury?

Oftentimes, child injuries occur when children are playing. Other children may not have the judgment to play safely. Parents are responsible for the acts their children commit, and the law can require them to pay under some circumstances. However, Arizona law imposes some caps that can limit the amount of your recovery.

There is a parental responsibility law in Arizona. The cap on damages that you can receive for what another child did is $10,000. If there is another law that imposes legal responsibility for a child’s activities, the $10,000 is in addition to that money. Thus, you will need to find another way to recover when another child harms yours, such as the failure of a school, camp, or daycare to supervise the children. One can also sue the parent of the other child if the injury occurred on their watch.

What if My Child Partially Causes the Injury?

Sometimes children share partial responsibility for their injuries. In those cases, parents wonder whether they can still recover. They can take comfort in two things. The first is that children are not held to the same standard as adults when it comes to negligence.

Most people expect that children will not have the judgment to avoid injury. In fact, the law holds adults to a higher standard regarding children (such as rules that require them to secure swimming pools and other attractive nuisances on their properties).

Second, Arizona allows people who are partially at fault for an accident to receive financial compensation, albeit in an amount that an adjuster will reduce by their percentage of the fault.

So long as someone else bears even a part of the blame, parents can still recover on behalf of their child. In cases where a child was dangerously climbing on playground equipment, one can sue the city or school if the school improperly maintained the equipment or inadequately supervised the child.

Are There Damage Caps in Arizona?

Some states limit personal injury recoveries by capping pain and suffering. This is not the case in Arizona. The State Constitution prohibits damage caps in personal injury lawsuits.

This means that parents will not have limitations on what they can recover on behalf of their child. In fact, Arizona is one of only a handful of states in the entire country that prohibits all limits on personal injury recoveries.

Injured children often appear very sympathetically in front of the jury. The prospect of a sympathetic plaintiff and unlimited damages often force the defendant’s hand when it comes to settlement.

Can My Child Handle a Lawsuit?

There is no denying that filing a lawsuit can be a difficult experience for your child. They will need to speak to attorneys and may even need to testify in court. However, not starting the legal process will have far worse effects on your child because they won’t receive the compensation that they will need, both now and in the future.

At Zanes Law Injury Lawyers, we have experienced attorneys who know how to work with children. We can handle difficult situations with sensitivity, and we understand the different needs of children. Not all children respond the same to the legal process, and we will consider that in dealing with your child.

At the same time, we commit to fighting for your child and protecting them in the courtroom and claims process. Not all attorneys have the capability to work with children, but we have the necessary experience. We have helped countless Arizona families when their children have suffered an injury because of someone else’s wrongful acts.

Can I Afford a Child Injury Lawyer?

While finances may be an issue when your child has suffered an injury, one thing that you do not need to worry about is how you will afford an attorney. You will not need to write any check for a personal injury lawyer upfront.

We won’t bill you on an hourly basis while your case makes its way through the legal system. In fact, we won’t even bill you at all unless you receive money through either a jury verdict or a settlement. Then, you will only pay us a percentage of the recovery that you receive.

If you do not win, then you do not pay. This allows you to worry just a little less during what is already a very difficult time for your family. There is no risk for you in hiring an attorney. The bigger risk is in handling tricky legal issues on your own without an experienced lawyer. It will cost you financially, either when you recover less compensation or no compensation for your child’s injuries.

A Phoenix Child Injury Lawyer Tells Your Child’s Story

What you need is a lawyer who can effectively tell your story. This includes presenting your claim to the insurance company if you choose to go down that route. If your case ends up in court, an effective lawyer who can present the facts and compellingly tell the child’s story can persuade the jury in your favor.

This is what we do at Zanes Law Injury Lawyers. We recover compensation for countless families with injured children and know exactly what we are doing if your case goes to the jury.

It is always best to get legal help right after your child’s injury occurs. Your attorney can help you prepare to seek financial compensation for the injuries. We will explain your legal options and help you handle the details of the legal process. Getting an attorney on your case will cost you nothing out of your pocket, and we only receive a payment if you win.

Contact Zanes Law Injury Lawyers or call us right away at (602) 999-9999 for your no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation.

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