How does a parent protect a child following an accident in New York?
Children suffer injuries every day. They fall, they break things, they get into things that they should not.
Most times the injuries suffered by the child are minor. Occasionally, however, they are severe.
And when a child suffers a severe injury, it falls to the parents (or guardians) to care for and protect the child.
Some accidents involving children just happen. A child is climbing on a couch and falls; a child falls from a tree in a back yard – these can happen quickly are often are not caused by someone's fault or failure to pay attention. They are just accidents.
Other times, however, children are hurt because of someone's failure.
That may be the failure of a dog owner to keep a vicious dog away from children.
Or the failure of a product manufacturer to make sure that a product is safe around children.
Or the failure of a driver to pay attention to the road instead of his phone.
Or the failure of a homeowner to ensure that children using a pool were doing so safely.
When a child is hurt in one of these scenarios the parent is left with a devastating life situation, not of their own making. The child may have severe long term injuries, or worse, and the parent is unsure what steps to take.
Step 1: Care for the child.
This should go without saying, but the first and most important role a parent or guardian will play is the role of caretaker. To ensure the child is getting what she needs to get through the situation.
Step 2: Consider what's best for the child.
Children do not think about the future in any real way. This is one of the many beautiful things about them – their focus on what is immediately in front of them.
The job of a caretaker, however, is to give thought to the future, and specifically to what this child's future may look like as a result of the injuries that she sustained because another person or company was not careful.
The caretaker, in considering this, should think about what medical treatment the child may need; what sort of therapy or assistance; possible future restrictions on the ability to work, or play with friends, and other long-term implications.
Many of these things cost money, and others have a very significant impact on the child's quality of life. How will the child be made whole for this?
Step 3: Consider pursuing legal action.
In the fact of an injury to a child no one wants to immediately think about taking legal action. Nor should this be the first thought (see Step's 1 & 2). However, as a responsible caretaker, it is wise for the parent or guardian to consider whether the child has any legal right to recover for the wrongdoing of the person or company who was responsible for the injury.
That may be the owner of the dog who bit the child.
Or the company that manufacturer or sold the dangerous piece of equipment or device.
Or the driver who was too busy texting to see the child walking across the street.
If the child has suffered life-altering damages as a result of the accident, legal action may be the best way to help that child's life in the long run. And keep in mind that in each of the above scenarios, and in most cases, the wrongdoer will have some form of insurance which will likely cover most of what is ultimately recovered on the child's behalf.
Pursuing legal action does not, necessarily, mean filing a lawsuit. It could mean hiring a lawyer to reach out to the wrongdoer and attempt to negotiate a settlement. Or it could mean moving forward with a formal, legal proceeding. Ultimately that decision rests on what is best for the child.
Step 4: Remember, the claim is the child's, not the parents.
When a child is severely hurt, and the parent/guardian decides to take legal action, it is important to remember that the claim rests with the child, and not the parent.
The parent/guardian is acting on behalf of the child in hiring the attorney and taking necessary steps to move the process along. But if there is a recovery, whether through settlement or after a trial, the money will be set aside for the child, likely through a structured settlement or annuity that will make payments to the child for medical expenses and life needs as the child gets older.
Unfortunately , New York does not allow parents to recover for injuries to a child, so the only available claim is that of the child, brought by the parents or guardian.
Do you have questions about an injury to a child in New York? If so please contact us today.