Harm that befalls an innocent child is unfair and inexcusable. Any child who experiences significant injury will often carry psychological scars resulting from the trauma. An injured child in the family can make everyone hurt.
While some injuries are not always preventable, other injuries can arise from the negligent or reckless actions of others. In many cases, such injuries are legally actionable. Should that be the regrettable circumstances for you, we at McNeely Stephenson are ready to assist you.
Childhood Injury Statistics
Injuries are the leading cause of death for those aged 1 through 18. (Under one year of age, it is suffocation.) The top nonfatal causes of injury in children are:
- For those aged 1 to 4, falls and poisoning were leading causes of injury.
- For those aged 1 through 9, the next most frequent cause of nonfatal injuries after falls and poisoning was being struck against or by an object.
- For those aged 15 to 19, motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of injury, but falls and being struck against or by an object were also high on the list.
Common Childhood Injury Situations
Any number of circumstances can result in the injury of a vulnerable child. Here are some of the most common:
- Traffic accidents of all types. Generally this means motor vehicle accidents; however, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and school bus accidents all cause injuries and deaths. Childrens’ bodies are not mature enough to absorb hard impacts without serious or fatal injury.
- Accidental drownings. Drownings are a leading cause of death for children aged 1 through 4. Drownings are not limited to swimming pool and boating accidents—little children can drown in a very small amount of water, such as in bathtubs and toilets. Non-fatal drowning accidents can lead to permanent brain injury.
- Accidental poisonings. Children are curious, so they taste the things they find. Some common items that can poison children and lead to significant and permanent injuries are: lead (in toys and house paint), prescription medications, common cleaning products, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and mercury.
- Animal bites. Animals do not always understand our actions. Additionally, some persons intentionally keep vicious animals. In Indiana, dog owners are liable for unprovoked attacks.
- Away-from-home situations, such as injuries at day care centers, camps, and other locations. When a child is out of our sight, the possibilities of negligent care and outright abusive treatment can occur. Sexual abuse and molestation can also take place in these situations, as can accidental poisonings and drownings.
- Birth injuries. Children are vulnerable from the first instant of life, and they can suffer permanent injuries in the very act of being born.
- Child product and toy injuries. A number of products, including toys, cribs, walkers, and other items meant to be used by children are not safe because they are defective in some way. There are instances of child furniture tipping over and causing severe injury.
- Prescription drug error injuries and other medical malpractice situations. The most likely place for prescription drug errors to occur is in the Emergency Room. Medical malpractice can cause a wide range of childhood injuries.
Types of Childhood Injuries
Children can suffer from a variety of serious injuries. Some of the most damaging ones are:
- Brain injury (TBI) and spinal damage, including those injuries that lead to seizures and paralysis. Brain injuries are among the most catastrophic types of harm that can happen to your child.
- Broken bones, causing much pain and sometimes disability, depending on the severity.
- Burns, including electrocutions and scalds. Premises liability, meaning that a landlord or other property owner might be considered negligent, can be a factor in burns.
- Internal injuries from being struck by an object, whether in a motor vehicle accident, by another person, or another situation.
- Open wound trauma (cuts, bites, and so forth).
- Soft tissue damage, such as severe contusions, pulled ligaments, and other injuries not immediately visible.
- After an insect sting, anaphylactic shock and the risk of suffocation can occur.
Emotional distress — whether from abuse, cyberbullying, or other causes — can be no less damaging than physical injury and often accompanies traumatic experiences such as severe injuries or abuse.
What Are My Rights When My Child is Harmed?
Under Indiana law, you have the right to seek compensation for certain damages if your child suffers serious injury due to another party’s recklessness or negligence. In order to be eligible for such compensation, it must be established that the other party did not exercise reasonable care, and that the lack of reasonable care led directly to your child’s injury or wrongful death.
You must also bring your case within the time limits specified by Indiana’s statutes of limitations. Sometimes exceptions apply, such as with car accidents that occurred when the child was under 18 at the time of the injury. In that case, the statute of limitations does not begin until the child turns 18. For medical malpractice claims in Indiana, the two-year statute of limitations begins to run when the child turns 8. In a product liability case, the statute of limitations is two years regardless of age.
You can seek both economic and non-economic damages. “Economic damages” are things such as past and future medical bills; the cost of rehabilitation; assistive devices and prostheses; and lost wages. Typical “non-economic” damages are compensation for pain and suffering and for mental anguish resulting from the injury.