Seattle Child Injury Lawyer
Injuries To Kids - Who is Liable?
As a parent, nothing can be as heart wrenching as an injury to your child. Even if the injury wasn't your fault, you still feel guilt because it is your duty to keep your child out of danger. But as children grow and mature, they gain more and more independence and spend less of their lives under the watchful eyes of their parents. If your child suffers an injury, their lives and the lives of the rest of the family can be affected for years to come. As a parent, you'll want to ensure that your family is financially prepared to handle the future care of an injured child.
To find out more about your legal rights and options after an injury to your child, call the Seattle injury attorneys of Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. at (888) 228-3860. Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. has been representing Washington State injury victims and their families for more than four decades and will put their experience and knowledge to work on your case.
Common Injuries to Children
Many accidents can occur with children, so there is a large range of different injuries they may suffer. Some of the most common child injuries are:
- Broken bones
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
- Eye injuries
- Birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy
When a child has suffered physical or emotional harm as a result of someone else’s negligence, the parents may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit that will allow them to seek compensation for expenses related to the injuries.
Filing a Claim in School/Daycare Accidents
School and daycare accidents are treated differently in Seattle. While schools are responsible for ensuring that the children in their care are kept safe at all times, they are also entities considered to be “political subdivisions.” Under this classification, they are generally immune from lawsuits. Fortunately, the state of Washington has waived this immunity, which means that claims for compensation can still be made when a school district or one of its employees is negligent and causes injury to a student.
However, these cases are complicated, and there are very specific procedures that must be followed. If these procedures are not followed, the lawsuit may be thrown out. Because of this, parents who wish to file a personal injury claim against a school should speak with an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to file these claims.
Daycares, on the other hand, are not political subdivisions and are not covered by the immunity provided to schools. Negligent daycare workers who have caused or allowed injury to a child can have a personal injury lawsuit filed against them by the parents of the child. The company running the daycare may also have a claim filed against it if management did not properly maintain equipment (such as playground structures), or if they knew the negligent employee had a history of being careless and continued to keep him or her on staff.
Filing a Claim in Car/Pedestrian/Bicycle Accidents
When a child is injured in a car accident, the family may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, whether he or she is partially or completely at fault for the injury. When it comes to pedestrian and bicycle accidents, however, it’s a bit more complicated.
Unlike children in cars, who cannot drive and are not responsible for whatever happens to them, children walking or riding bicycles have rules of the road that they must follow. Pedestrians may only cross the street, for instance, when directed to do so by traffic lights or in a crosswalk. When pedestrians do not follow these rules, they may be found partially or fully at fault for an accident. The same is true with bicycle accidents. Bicyclists must signal at all times, and follow the rules so they can safely share the road with drivers.
But when children are in these accidents, the courts will take a number of things into consideration before assigning fault. A very young child might not be found responsible if his bike slipped off the sidewalk and he was hit by a vehicle. This is because a young child is not expected to be fully aware of the dangers of vehicles. But if an older child who was 13 did not signal or wear his helmet while riding, he may be found partially at fault if he is hit by a vehicle. Older children are expected to anticipate these dangers and follow the rules of the road. There are no hard rules when it comes to these types of accidents, so speaking to a lawyer is your best bet.
Filing a Claim in Swimming/Drowning Accidents
Children have a MUCH higher risk of drowning. Lakes, oceans, and swimming pools are common places for swimming accidents to occur, but water parks and even bathtubs can be deadly. If they are not supervised properly, or if they encounter a defective piece of equipment, children can easily slip under the water and become trapped.
If a child almost drowns in a bathtub under the care of someone other than a parent or guardian, such as a babysitter, that caregiver may be found negligent. If he or she placed a young child in a bath and then left the room to go answer the phone, during which time the child slipped underwater and suffered brain damage, that would be negligence leading directly to the child’s injury.
Property owners with a pool may also be found negligent if a child drowns in their pool. This is true even if the property owners were not home at the time, or did not invite the child into their pool. Pools are considered attractive nuisances due to the fact that they attract children. The property owner, by law, must ensure that his pool is surrounded on all four sides by a tall fence and a gate, preferably one that latches from the inside that children cannot reach. When homeowners fail to take these precautions, they face a personal injury lawsuit if a child drowns in their pool.
In addition to caregivers and property owners, others could be found liable for a child’s swimming or drowning accident. They are:
- Manufacturers of equipment, such as diving boards, boats, and swimming pools
- Those who installed or sold the swimming pool
- Water park owners, and water park employees
- Companies that provide recreational entertainment, such as boat tour companies
- Municipalities that have not kept areas safe, such as public beaches
Swimming accidents, and particularly drowning accidents, can be devastating for the family left to deal with them. There may be compensation available for the child’s injuries, and families should hire a qualified attorney that can help them get it.
Possible Costs of an Injury to a Child in Washington
Depending on the severity of your child's injury, you may be looking at the following costs:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Costs of in home care, including special equipment (such as hospital beds and oxygen tanks; private nurses; household modifications, such as wheelchair ramps and stair lifts)
- Vehicle modifications, such as wheelchair lifts
- Costs of physical therapy
- Lost wages if you have to give up your occupation to care for the child, either temporarily or permanently
- Lost wages for work missed to attend doctor appointments
- Permanent injury or disability
- Costs of special schooling and education
- Costs of institutionalization if you are unable to care for your child at home
- Extreme financial hardship
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional duress
- Wrongful death damages
Contact an Experienced Seattle Child Injury Attorney
We at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. sincerely hope you and your family never are in need of our services. But, should an unfortunate event occur and your child suffers an injury, please call our experienced and compassionate legal team for a free consultation. Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. has been successfully representing Seattle area and Washington State injury victims and their families for over 40 years.
Call our Washington child injury attorneys with any questions you may have at (888) 228-3860. For your child's sake, don't delay.
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