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State and federal agencies have implemented strict standards of safety for children’s products and activities. Unfortunately, those standards are seldom enforced, which has led to an increase in children’s injuries over the years.

If one or more of those safety standards are violated and a child is hurt because of it, the parents or legal guardians of the child may have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim against the negligent party.

Child Injury Lawsuit

Though most personal injury cases stemming from accidents involve adults, there are also plenty of examples of child injury lawsuits. Children are entitled to the same legal protection and right to damages as adults, even if they are more prone to falling or getting injured on their own!

Accidents happen every day in America, many of which involve children, and they’re usually nothing more than harmless mistakes. We all remember some scrapes and bruises from our childhood, after all. However, other types of accidents and injuries happen to children that could have and should have been prevented.

If one or more persons acted negligently, they are liable for any injuries to your child. As a result, you are free to seek legal representation and collect damages for an injured child. In most states, a child is considered a minor until they turn 18. Therefore, minors have a right to compensation for the same spectrum of damages filed by an adult in a personal injury claim.

Consequently, legal guardians of children may pursue damages for pain and suffering, permanent injury, emotional distress, and disability. Parents may also seek damages separately for expensive medical bills and doctor appointments.

A child injury lawsuit is a little out of the ordinary, simply because a child cannot negotiate his or her own settlement. Therefore, it is on the parent or legal guardian to seek damages and negotiate on behalf of the minor, often through a qualified attorney.

Personal Injury Settlement for a Minor/Child

The legal liability for accidents caused by minors is centered around the same notion of care and carelessness as accidents that are caused by adults. However, on the opposite side, the same standards of care that are expected of an adult cannot be applied to minors.

The legal definition of carefulness implies an understanding of risks because most minors (especially young children) do not understand and interpret risks in the same way as adults. For this reason, very young children (or children under the age of 7) are generally not liable for accidental injuries because they are too young to understand what makes something “careless.”

Regardless, this does not prevent parents or legal guardians from being held liable for negligence in failing to control a child. Additionally, once a child becomes old enough to be aware of right vs. wrong, the child can also be held responsible for intentional injuries.

The laws and principles that govern a personal injury settlement for a minor/child get muddled because there are so many exceptions. For example, a personal injury case may involve an older child (teenager) injuring a younger child, two younger children being involved in an accident, or an adult hurting a child. These three different examples would all be treated differently in a court of law. Therefore, you should reach out to a professional law firm if you have a child that was injured and the circumstances around the accident are suspect. 

Proving negligence and liability is at the heart of every personal injury lawsuit. Greenberg & Stein can help defend your child who was injured as a result of the negligence of someone else. Contact us today to discuss the details of the injuries confidentially with an experienced lawyer—at no cost to you.

Personal Injury Claim—Filing Deadlines

A personal injury claim for children’s injuries requires an adult to file the claim on their behalf. This adult must either be the child’s parent or legal guardian. Time limits on filing child injuries claims are much different than those of adults.

For a personal injury claim involving a child, the statute of limitations does not end until the child’s 21st birthday. This is true for injury claims against people and against regular corporations. 

For medical negligence cases against children, the time limit to bring a claim expires 10 years after the date of injury or 2 ½ years after the child’s 18th birthday—whichever is sooner. 

For cases against towns, cities, villages, counties, or other city/municipal agencies, the time to bring a case for a child is 1 year and 90 days after their 18th birthday.

(NOTE: Even though a child has a long time to bring a case against a municipality, they still are required to file a Notice of Claim against the municipality or agency. This must be done within 90 days of the accident or incident.)

A medical malpractice claim against a municipal hospital for a child must be made within 90 days. Then, the child has 10 years after the injury to bring a lawsuit. If a child is injured by the New York State or one of its departments/divisions, the claim must be submitted within 90 days. 

Claims against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must be brought within 10 months after the injury with a lawsuit filed within one year (a claim can be instituted anytime within the 10 months, but you must wait until at least 60 days after the claim is made to start the lawsuit).

Can I Gain Access to My Child’s Settlement Money?

This is an important question, and one that is not always straightforward to answer. Whether a parent may access the settlement money of a child depends on the type of settlement and if the funds are held in trust.

The general rule is that settlement funds reserved for the injuries of a minor are for the exclusive benefit of the child. This general rule makes sense because the child is the victim of the injuries, and it also prevents some parents from taking advantage of the situation.

However, parents are sometimes entitled to a portion of settlement funds. For example, a parent is the one who may have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on medical costs. He or she may also miss time from work caring for an injured child. Therefore, a court may allow the adult guardian to access some of the funds in order to recover damages for medical bills and other applicable expenses.

Regardless, before you decide to touch the funds in a settlement reserved for a child, you should contact an attorney. It is essential to make sure that you are legally allowed to have access to the money for reimbursement purposes. If not, you may be violating the terms of the agreement.

Settlement money for a child injury lawsuit may be paid in a lump sum, structured payments, or different periodic structures. The settlement agreement will set forth the specific rules regarding the distribution of the funds and how it must be used. In a personal injury settlement for a minor/child, you need to make sure that, as an adult, you can legally access the funds or a portion of the money.

Contact Greenberg & Stein, P.C.

Because young children may require specialized medical care in the event of an injury, and because long-term conditions will affect a child for more years than an adult, payouts for successful child personal injury claims are known to be significantly larger than others. However, successful claims require experienced representation.

At Greenberg & Stein, P.C., we want to see your child given the best possible medical treatment and support for his or her injuries to ensure that they recover quickly and fully. Our New York City personal injury attorneys are equipped with the skill and passion required to see your child’s personal injury claim succeed.

Contact a New York City child injury lawyer from our firm for the professional support and legal advice that you need.

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