Factors That Impact a Maryland Accident Claim for Child Injuries
Parents always do their best to prevent accidental injuries to children, but kids can get hurt even when you are diligent and responsible in protecting them. Plus, youth is a time for exploration, fun, extracurricular sports, and exciting activities, all of which carry a physical component. Through their quest for adventure, children are at risk. Statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shed some light on the subject:
- While accidental deaths to children decreased 11% over the last decade, unintentional injuries are still the leading cause of fatalities.
- Children in Baltimore County and other urban areas are at a lower risk of death from accidents compared to rural locations.
- The top causes of fatalities and injuries to children are traffic collisions, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and slip and falls.
- Kids in certain demographic groups are more prone to injuries, particularly males. The highest accidental death rates affect infants and teens, though drowning fatalities were most common among children 1 to 4 years old.
These statistics are concerning, so the CDC site includes numerous safety tips to prevent accidental injuries and deaths to children. However, parents cannot expect to shelter their children from all possible sources of harm. When accidents do occur, it is a comfort to know that you have legal remedies when negligence is behind the incident. You may be able to recover compensation for the losses your family suffers, and a Baltimore County child injuries attorney can assist with the process. Your lawyer can explain in detail the factors that impact your claim, including:
Statute of Limitations
All US states have a time restriction on civil matters, and the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years in Maryland. The clock starts ticking on the date of the accident. The deadline may be extended for injuries that a victim did not discover through reasonable diligence, but this scenario is usually only relevant in medical malpractice situations.
However, in a child injuries case, the victim is under a legal disability being under 18 years old. Therefore, the statute of limitations starts to run when he or she becomes an adult. Note that parents do NOT need to wait to pursue an at-fault party for this reason. Quick action has numerous advantages, since evidence is more likely to remain intact and memories do not fade. Of course, moving forward with your legal options right away ensures you get the compensation you need to support your child promptly.
Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Rule
A harsh rule could impact a child injuries case, and it is one that is relatively uncommon in the US. Maryland follows the law of contributory negligence, in which a victim is prohibited from recovering any compensation if he or she had a hand in causing the accident. Most other US states merely reduce monetary damages based upon the proportion of fault assigned to each party.
Contributory negligence principles apply to adults, but they may also affect a child injuries case. Maryland courts have found that children may be capable of negligence, but the details depend on age, intelligence and maturity, experience, and general cognitive development. Still, children under five years old are considered incapable of contributory negligence.
Resolving Child Injury Claims by Settlement
Many accident cases settle out of court, and the same is true when the victim is a child. Again, the issue of legal incapacity arises. Parents have the power to negotiate settlement on behalf of a minor, but payment of a large sum of money to a child triggers legal requirements under Maryland law. The funds are intended for the child victim, and so there are statutes to protect them.
- If the settlement amount is less than $5,000, the funds must be deposited into an account designated for the minor’s benefit. The parent acts as custodian to apply the proceeds for the child’s needs.
- In cases where the settlement exceeds $5,000, payment must be made to a court-appointed guardian or trustee under a trust created for the minor.
When a child suffers severe injuries in an accident, you can expect the settlement amount to exceed $5,000. Plus, for those cases that do not settle, it is necessary to seek monetary damages through a personal injury lawsuit. As a result, a guardianship case will often accompany a child injury claim in Maryland. The court maintains jurisdiction over the matter to ensure that the child’s best interests are served when the guardian requests withdrawals.
Options for Parents Seeking Compensation
Child injury cases usually start by filing a claim with an auto, homeowner’s, business, or other insurance policy. As mentioned, many cases will settle. On behalf of your child, you may be able to recover:
- Costs for medical treatment, including surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and related expenses;
- Pain and suffering; and,
- Emotional distress.
In addition, parents may qualify to recover for the losses that impact them separately from the child. While he or she is recovering at home, you may need to take time off work to care for your child. It may be possible to recover for lost wages and future business opportunities. When your child has suffered catastrophic injuries that lead to permanent disability, your family might also recover amounts for:
- Wheelchairs, crutches, and other assistive devices;
- Modifications to your home or vehicle, as required to accommodate a wheelchair or scooter;
- At-home care from skilled nursing staff;
- Placing your child in an assisted living center that suits his or her disability; and,
- Many other long-term ramifications.
Our Maryland Child Injury Lawyers Will Support Your Legal Needs
These are just a few of the factors that affect a personal injury claim when the victim is a child, but there are other considerations that are unique to your situation. To learn more about your remedies and the types of monetary damages that are available in a child injuries case, please contact the Baltimore office of Bob Katz Law. We can set up a no-cost consultation to discuss the details.