Injuries to Children and Minors

It is heartbreaking to see a child with a serious injury, and as parents, we do everything in our power to keep our children safe, understanding that children do not have the understanding and judgment to avoid danger at all times. In spite of our best efforts, children are injured and sometimes even killed. In many cases, the accident is caused by some party other than the parents. Children are seriously injured in car accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, defective product accidents, drowning, falls or other premises accident, because of medical errors, or as a result of dog bites or negligence in school or daycare.
If your child is suffering from an injury caused by someone else, it may be possible to get money to pay the child’s medical bills and compensate him or her for pain, suffering, and disability stemming from the accident. Even if the parents were to blame, partially or totally, Florida law allows an injured child to receive compensation up to the limits of the parents’ insurance policy. Unfortunately however, most insurance policies exclude this type of coverage, so your attorney will need to review your policy in this type of situation.

Children and Car Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injuries to children. The National Center for Statistics and Analysis reports that a quarter of a million children are injured every year in traffic accidents and approximately 2,000 children are killed in traffic crashes. Using the proper restraints, required by law in Florida, can make a huge difference to a child if a car accident should occur, and it is the driver of the car, often a parent, who must see to it that children are belted into age appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seatbelts. But taking all the safety precautions in the world may not be enough to protect children from the reckless, aggressive, distracted, or drunk driving of others on the road. One in every five child traffic fatalities involves a drunk driver.
Children are vulnerable to the same types of car accident injuries that affect adults, although they are often more serious in children because of a child’s small size and less robust physique. Spinal cord injuries, brain trauma, whiplash, seat-belt syndrome, lacerations and scarring, fractures, and more can affect children, especially those who are not belted in properly.
Recovering money for your child with the help of a Florida personal injury attorney can help ensure that you will be able to obtain the best medical care and provide for your injured child’s other needs.

Negligence in Schools, Daycare Centers, and other Childcare Programs

With most parents working these days, kids spend a great deal of their time away from home at school, daycare centers, after school programs, and other structured recreational programs where they are in the care of others. Injuries can occur in many ways:

  1. A dangerous condition on the premises may cause a fall or other injury.
  2. Children who are not properly supervised may be bullied by other children in the program.
  3. Children may be injured on dangerous playground equipment or when engaging in dangerous activities on the playground, especially when not properly supervised.
  4. Children may be physically or sexually abused by an adult caregiver.
  5. A dangerous person may be allowed to enter the premises and harm the children, as exemplified by a number of school shootings around the country.

In many instances, parents are required by the childcare facilities to sign a paper relieving the center of responsibility for any harm that should come to the child in their care. It is important for parents to know that these generally do not hold up in court. A school or childcare program has a legal duty of care to the children enrolled in the program, regardless of anything you sign to the contrary. Your attorney can advise you.

Dog Bites

A disproportionate number of dog bite victim are children. These are some facts about children and dog bites provided by the Florida Department of Health:

  • The ages of 1 through 9 years are when children are at the highest risk for dog bites.
  • Children under 10 are more often bitten around the neck and head than older children and adults.
  • More boys than girls in the under 10 age group are bitten by dogs.
  • A large majority of dog bites (86 percent) suffered by children under age 6 were by dogs known to the family; and more than half of these happened in the home.
  • Many of these bites occurred when the child victims were unsupervised.

In Florida, a dog’s owner is strictly liable for a bite. This means that regardless of whether the dog has every shown a propensity to be dangerous, the owner is liable for any damages the dog causes. An exception is when a “Bad Dog” or “Beware of Dog” sign is posted on a property where a dog is contained. However, this exception does not apply if the bite victim is less than 6 years old.
If your child has been bitten by a dog, on top of the physical injury, psychological trauma is a real possibility. Talk to a personal injury attorney to learn how you can make a claim for damages in your child’s behalf.

Medical Malpractice

Medical errors are responsible for many deaths and injuries in the United States. Children child are among the many victims of medical incompetence, and may become victims of malpractice, for which the parents may demand monetary compensation.

Topping the list of harm due to medical error are injuries that occur at birth because of negligence in prenatal care, labor and delivery, or during the hours and days immediately following a birth. A few of the common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, brain damage cause by oxygen deprivation, nerve damage such as Erb’s Palsy, and spinal cord damage from a botched forceps delivery.

As with adults, children can be victims of missed or delayed diagnosis, surgical and anesthesia errors, and prescription drug errors.

Swimming Accidents, Drowning Deaths, and Near-Drownings

With its long hot summers, extended months of swimming weather, and high number of pools and beaches, Florida is the state with the largest number of drowning deaths in the nation among children under age 5, along with near drownings, according to the Florida Department of Health. Children make up 79 percent of all drowning fatalities. Near drownings often result in permanent brain damage.

Drownings can be prevented by proper supervision in public and private pools and anywhere there is water. Education, supervision, and appropriate barriers and locked gates are needed to keep children away from the water unless they are being closely supervised. In some cases, a pool owner or a person charged with supervising a child who drowns or is injured in the water may be held liable for the child’s death or injuries.

The Right Lawyer for a Child Injury or Wrongful Death

Having to see your child suffer, or losing a beloved child in a fatal accident can be nearly unbearable for a parent. If your child is suffering injuries caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able to recover money from the responsible party that will help you provide the best care for your child. If your child died, nothing can compensate for the loss of a young life and the grief and anguish you’re suffering. But you may be able to find some closure in making the party who caused your loss take responsibility for the harm done. Doing so may also deter the wrongdoing and irresponsibility in the future, both on the part of the person responsible for your child’s death and by others who are made to understand that there are serious consequences to recklessness, irresponsibility, and negligence toward children, who are more vulnerable and need care, supervision, and guidance.

Child injury and wrongful death cases are heart wrenching, and you will need a lawyer with compassion and a deeply felt understanding of your and your child’s loss. In the Tampa Bay area, contact the law offices of child injury attorney Stephen Maltezos. Steve is committed to justice for injured children and grieving families and understands the importance of holding anyone who has injured a child accountable. Steve has offices in Tampa and St. Petersburg and handles child injury cases throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties and elsewhere in West Central Florida.

Steve understands that this is a difficult time for you. You may not feel ready to proceed with a legal case. But Florida law places restrictions on the amount of time you have to file a claim. Steve will remove the burden from your shoulders and handle all the legal tasks with compassion and discretion, allowing you the time to devote to the care of your injured child, or in the case of a wrongful death, to go through the process of grieving. So let him take care of the legal matters for you. Call Maltezos Law today.