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How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help if My Child is Injured in California?

How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help if My Child is Injured in California?

Accidents can happen at any time, and when they involve children, the emotional toll on parents can be overwhelming. In California, if your child has suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you may wonder what legal recourse is available to you. This is where a personal injury attorney can make a significant difference.

This blog will discuss the specific legal protocols related to child injuries in California and highlight the vital role a child injury attorney plays in such cases.

Childhood Injuries That May Impact Adulthood

Childhood injuries and trauma are often perceived as temporary setbacks from which most children recover and move on with their lives. However, not all injuries are fleeting; some can leave long-lasting consequences that shape a child’s future well into adulthood. Common incidents that result in child injury include:

Long-Term Impact on Children

Even injuries that do not result in complete disability can lead to long term, less severe disabilities or disfigurement. These lasting effects may persist throughout a child’s life, potentially hindering their ability to enjoy activities and pursue certain careers or interests in adulthood.

For instance, a child who sustains a back injury may regain the ability to walk or run, but still find themselves unable to participate in sports, dance, or other enjoyable pastimes. Such injuries can become a constant reason for a child to experience recurring pain and limitations, affecting the child’s ability to sit, drive, or lift heavy objects.

Scarring and Disfigurement

In some cases, even if a child recovers physically after severe injuries, they may still bear significant scarring or disfigurement. While not physically disabling, these visible changes can make a child self-conscious and lead to psychological impacts, particularly as they enter adolescence and adulthood.

Lasting Brain Trauma

When a child sustains traumatic brain injury (TBI), it can result in permanent disabilities that may never fully resolve. The severity of the head injury determines the range of potential symptoms that a child may carry into adulthood.

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Possible Damages in a Child Personal Injury Case

In a child’s personal injury case, you may be entitled to various types of damages depending on the situation and the severity of the injuries. These damages can be categorized as follows:

Economic Damages

  • Medical Expenses: Both past and future medical costs based on the child’s anticipated needs over their lifetime.
  • Property Damage: Reimbursement for any property damage incurred as a result of the incident.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation not only for pain and suffering at the time of the injury but also for any physical or emotional distress experienced.
  • Cost of Living with a Permanent Disability: This encompasses expenses related to special equipment, home modifications, potential future caregiver costs, accounting for inflation, and other factors affecting future expenses.
  • Loss of Potential Future Earnings: Although calculating this for a minor can be challenging, it considers the child’s experiences and expectations, projecting likely scenarios based on the family’s current situation.

Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life
  • Mental Anguish and Emotional Distress
  • Permanent Disability or Disfigurement
  • Loss of Services and Companionship
  • Death

Understanding California’s Legal Landscape for Child Injuries

Child injury cases in California are subject to a distinct set of legal rules and regulations. When a child is injured, it is crucial to understand how the legal system handles these cases to ensure the best possible outcome.

Statute of Limitations

In California, the statute of limitations for child injury cases spans a duration of two years from the day your child turns 18. This essentially provides you with a two-year timeframe, commencing on your child’s 18th birthday, during which you can initiate legal proceedings in a court of law. However, it’s imperative to understand that there are specific exceptions to this general rule.

In certain instances, the statute of limitations may undergo a temporary suspension, legally termed as “tolling.” During this period, the clock temporarily stops ticking, only to resume later. Tolling can be triggered by various circumstances, such as when the defendant is a minor, resides outside of California, is incarcerated, or is declared legally insane. Once the reasons for tolling cease to apply, such as when the minor becomes an adult, the defendant returns to California, is released from incarceration, or is no longer considered legally insane, the statute of limitations reactivates.

Third-Party Liability

California Civil Code 1714 states that individuals can be responsible for accidents within properties, which can include property owners, landlords, tenants, property managers, contractors, site managers, equipment owners, and other third parties. They may find themselves legally accountable for injuries and damages resulting from negligence of their duty of care that occur on their premises.

California law takes a more protective stance when it comes to children who may not have the full capacity to comprehend the risks posed by hazards they encounter on a property. The level of care required is often adjusted in accordance with the child’s ability to understand these dangers and foresee the potential consequences of hazardous situations.

Representation on Claims Settlement

According to California Family Code §6502 and Code § 6701, minors, defined as individuals below the age of 18, are not permitted to enter into contracts or independently resolve claims or lawsuits under the law. Instead, an adult must act as their legal representative and initiate a formal petition to obtain a judge’s approval for any settlement. The following individuals are authorized to undertake this responsibility:

  1. Either parent of the child in cases where both parents share joint custody.
  2. The parent who has physical custody and/or legal control of the child if the parents are separated.
  3. A guardian ad litem, a court-appointed individual tasked with safeguarding the child’s interests throughout the legal process.

It is advisable to seek legal guidance with a personal injury lawyer on filing child injury claims. They can guide the parents or guardians on their best course of action.

The Importance of a Personal Injury Attorney

Now that we’ve outlined the legal landscape in California, let’s discuss why hiring a personal injury attorney is essential when your child is injured.

  • Legal Expertise: Personal injury attorneys have a deep understanding of California’s laws and regulations related to child injuries. They can navigate the complex legal process with ease, ensuring that all necessary documentation is filed correctly and within the required timeframes.
  • Investigation: Attorneys are equipped to conduct thorough investigations into the circumstances of the accident. This may involve collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting experts to establish liability.
  • Negotiation Skills: Experienced attorneys are skilled negotiators. They can engage with insurance companies and at-fault parties to reach a fair settlement that covers medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Real-Life Examples

To illustrate the impact of personal injury attorneys in child injury cases, let’s look at two real-life scenarios:

Case Study 1

A 5-year-old boy was injured when a 250+ pound metal garage gate dislodged from its place and fell on the child, causing severe injuries to his head, arms, and legs. It took the strength of the mother and aunt to lift the metal gate and extract the unconscious boy out. The child only regained consciousness while they were on the way to the hospital. 

Our experienced child injury attorney together with a team of medical experts and case managers were able to prove liability against the landlord. Over the course of completing the documents to proceed with a legal action, we found a witness and evidence proving that the incident did not happen the first time and that the landlord did not take action to fix the dilapidated gate. With all our collaborative efforts and dedication, our law firm was able to secure a $1 million child accident claim settlement in California to cover the child’s medical bills and emotional trauma. 

Case Study 2

A 12-year-old girl was involved in a pedestrian accident. While walking on her usual route going home from school, she was hit by a truck that failed to slow down on the pedestrian lane. She sustained a traumatic brain injury, facial paralysis, and broken shoulders. Our child injury attorney representing the girl was able to prove that the driver of the vehicle was negligent. As a result, we secured a $50,000 child accident claim settlement in California to cover the child’s present and future medical expenses and emotional distress.

Choosing the Right Attorney

When seeking legal representation for your child’s injury case, consider the following tips:

  1. Experience: Look for an attorney with a proven track record in handling child injury cases in California.
  2. Reputation: Research online reviews and ask for referrals from friends or family members who may have worked with a personal injury attorney.
  3. Communication: Choose an attorney who is responsive and communicates clearly. You should feel comfortable discussing your child’s case with them.
  4. Consultation: Many attorneys offer free initial consultations. Use this opportunity to discuss your case and gauge whether the attorney is a good fit for your family’s needs.

Consult with an Expert Child Injury Lawyer Today

In California, when your child is injured due to someone else’s negligence, a child injury attorney can be your most valuable ally. Their knowledge of the legal landscape, negotiation skills, and commitment to securing the best possible outcome for your child make them an essential resource during this challenging time. By choosing the right attorney, you can help ensure that your child receives the compensation and justice they deserve.

Filing a personal injury claim involving a child in California can be overwhelming, but with the right steps and legal guidance from a child injury attorney, you can protect your rights and secure fair compensation. 

Ayuda California has an award-winning legal team who can help you go through the entire legal process of filing claims or child injury lawsuits. We can help you get the compensation you deserve, while letting you focus on your child’s medical care and recovery.

We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t need to pay anything unless we win. Call Ayuda California today at (844) 865-0721.

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