Special Considerations for Children’s Injury Cases

by Andrew Mounier on October 24, 2013

  • Sharebar

child injuryLearning that a child has been injured in an accident is distressing for parents.  Discovering that the injury was preventable as it was due to another person’s negligence makes the situation even more devastating.  Unfortunately, every day children are injured or killed in accidents.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) each year over 12,000 children ages 0-19 are killed in accidents.  Over 9 million are injured, requiring emergency room care.  Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for children.  The leading causes of nonfatal injuries include falls, animal bites, burns, and suffocation.  Of course there are many other causes for injury to children such as defective products and negligent medical care.

Pursuing a Personal Injury Case
Just as in a case where an adult is injured due to the negligence of another person, an adolescent victim via a personal representative or his or her parents, can seek damages for the losses suffered.  Economic damages may include medical expenses.  It may even be possible to recover damages for loss of earning potential.  Non-economic damages can include compensation for pain and suffering and punitive damages.  However, when calculating such damages for child victims there are special factors that a court will consider that are not applicable to cases where an adult is the victim.

Because  of the importance of preserving any award for the long-term care of the child, any money awarded for the benefit of a child is typically placed in a trust, with the child named as the beneficiary.  The child may be allowed direct access to the funds upon reaching the age of majority.

Life-Long Care
A Kansas City personal injury attorney points out that in a children’s injury case, where a child’s injury leaves the child permanently disabled, the child may require long-term medical treatment or rehabilitative care.  As a child grows the type of care and treatment may change to remain consistent with the child’s changing physical, educational, psychological and emotional needs.  For example, if the child lost a limb in a car accident and as a result was fitted with a prosthetic, the prosthetic will have to be replaced as the child grows.  Similarly, if a child requires the use of a wheelchair, new chairs may be needed as the child grows.

Determining a child’s future medical needs as well as quality of life needs, and putting a dollar value to them involves complex calculations.  Indeed, in the most extreme cases where a baby is injured, costs may need to be projected decades and decades into the future.  Such calculations will be critical to the case and should only be performed by an expert.

Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a type of non-economic compensation that a court will award a child to compensate for injuries that are not readily quantifiable, but are linked to the emotional trauma and physical pain the child experiences as a result of the accident and resulting injuries.  For children this is a significant consideration as social interaction, self-image, and peer acceptance are integral to a child’s daily social life and critical to development.  For example, the fact that a child who had a leg amputated cannot run around on the playground is relevant.  As is the fact that a child with scars from a severe facial burn is likely to be stared at, laughed at, or avoided by other children.   Thus, a child who suffers a facial disfigurement, an amputation, or a brain injury will not only have to go through painful, invasive treatments for the injury, but will be emotionally traumatized by the experience and the resulting social effects.

Preventing additional trauma
A final, yet important consideration when pursuing a personal injury case where a child is the victim is the impact the legal proceeding will have on the child.  While every reasonable effort should be made to make sure that the negligent person is held accountable, the case should be pursued in a manner that causes the victim minimal additional trauma.

During a child victim personal injury case what can be done to minimize the stress on the child?  What should be done to ensure that the needs of the child are the paramount consideration in the case, and not the needs or wishes of the parents?

Andrew Mounier
Andrew Mounier is a Content Engineer and Author. He has worked in marketing for over a decade and finds his passion in bringing concepts to life for the world to enjoy. He is also an avid legal blogger and currently working on a book with his wife about social entrepreneurship. He is a true Socialpreneur and finds that his goal in life is to be an agent for positive social change through both his writing and business endeavors.
Andrew Mounier
Andrew Mounier

Latest posts by Andrew Mounier (see all)

No related posts.

Previous post:

Next post: