Atlanta Child Injury Lawyer
Our personal injury law firm, with dedicated child injury attorneys, has represented numerous children in Atlanta, and throughout the state of Georgia, who have been injured in car accidents, truck collisions, bicycle accidents, and daycare injuries, and as a result of child product defects.
Representing child injury lawsuits requires an experienced, skilled, and understanding trial attorney. First, children are frequently unable to appreciate various dangers with which they are confronted. For example, children are often injured by toys, products geared toward infants and toddlers, and by dangerous conditions present around playgrounds and swimming pools.
Companies which sell children’s products and premises owners who allow children to be present on their property must take appropriate precaution to protect kids. Moreover, business like daycares, which are specifically created in order to care for children, must hire, train, and retain qualified employees. O.C.G.A. § 20-1A-1 et seq. establishes a Board of Early Care and Learning in Georgia, which governs the conduct of day-care facilities.
Injuries to children may also be different than injuries to adults. For example, young children who suffer broken bones may need special attention from orthopedic surgeons and other specialists to ensure that such injuries do not pose long-term risks for the child. When a young child suffers a head injury, special care may also be required as the child’s brain may still be developing. For more information and to schedule a free consultation with an Atlanta child injury lawyer, please visit our child injury site.
Georgia Statutes of Limitation for Injury to Children
In general, Georgia has a two year statute of limitation for personal injury actions, according to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33. When injury to a child is the issue, the statute of limitations is tolled (does not begin running) until the child’s 18th birthday. Thus, in most cases, the claims must be brought before the child’s 20th birthday.
When a child has incurred medical expenses, the parents have the right to bring an action for the medical expenses that the child will accrue until he or she reaches 18 years of age, according to O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2. Thus, the best practice is for the parents’ claim for medical expenses to be brought within two years of the date the child is injured.
With respect to the statute of limitations, one very important exception exists in claims for medical malpractice. The child’s medical malpractice claim (usually the pain and suffering component of the claim and medical expenses incurred after the child turns 18 years of age) is tolled only until the 5th birthday (which means the claims must be filed before the child’s 7th birthday) instead of the 18th birthday, according to O.C.G.A. § 9-3-73(b). While the law gives children under five years of age additional time to bring a medical malpractice action, parents still must file their claim for the child’s medical expenses within two years of the date of the injury.
Injuries from Daycare Negligence – Child Injury Attorney
As an Atlanta child injury lawyer who has handled numerous cases against child care and daycare centers, I am disturbed by the number of injuries to children at daycare facilities in Georgia. Recently, a child died at Marlo’s Magnificent Early Learning Center, a facility in Clayton County, after she was left in a van after a field trip. Temperatures approached the mid-90s on the day of the child’s death.
This child’s death follows the death of a five month old in Kennesaw, Georgia in May 2011. The infant was left in a car outside the facility.
Bright from the Start, part of Georgia’s Department of Early Learning and Care, is the agency which monitors and sanctions daycare facilities in Georgia. This agency keeps records of inspections on facilities in Georgia and is vested with the authority to discipline wayward child care businesses.
For many children, attendance at daycare can be a tremendous opportunity to interact with other kids, improve social skills, and learn independence. Unfortunately, Georgia daycares are too often profit-driven to the point that they are understaffed, continue to employ poor performing individuals, or operate in other ways that are dangerous to children.
There are many wonderful daycare centers in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area; however, over the last few years, our Atlanta child injury lawyers have represented the families of a number of children who have suffered injuries during times when parents have placed the safety of their kids in the hands of people who are supposed to be professionals.
Common Daycare Injuries in Atlanta
One common type of daycare injury is a burn to a child. Why? Among other ways, children can suffer burns at daycares on playground equipment that is too hot, overheated sidewalks, and from hot liquids left within their reach. Young children are often not able to determine whether swings, slides, or other typical playground apparatus are safe for use.
As such, childcare workers should inspect equipment on hot days before allowing children to use it. Yet, many times no such inspection is conducted. In addition, when daycare workers leave coffee, hot tea, or hot water within reach of children, those liquids can burn the child when a cup or pot is grabbed by a curious kid and tips over.
Our law firm has also represented children who have been injured by falling objects. Again, too often, negligent and careless daycare employees leave heavy or otherwise dangerous objects within reach of children who are natural “explorers.” Children will accidentally pull a dangerous item down onto themselves or another kid. These sorts of mishaps can results in lacerations to the body, head injury, or broken bones from the falling objects.
Not surprisingly, with the rise of ‘smartphone’ use, injuries to children are increasing. iPhones, iPads, laptops, and the myriad of other personal computers readily available today often cause daycare workers to become distracted. The result of having distracted daycare workers is injury to the children they should be supervising.
Next, abuse by daycare workers is, unfortunately, a reality. To state the obvious, children are extremely vulnerable, essentially defenseless, and usually cannot communicate to parents if abuse is occurring. Clearly, there is no reason for a daycare employee to hit, strike, aggressively handle, or otherwise injure a child.
Very occasionally, such abuse is caught on video, but usually co-workers are the only “checks” on their fellow employees’ behavior. Our law firm simply does not believe abuse or injury to any child, anywhere, at any daycare is acceptable, and we aggressively fight for children under these circumstances.
Bright from the Start monitors, investigates, and regulates daycare centers. The agency does a nice job, but like many governmental entities, they are underfunded and understaffed. The agency does have a catalog of records on most state-accredited childcare facilities and can be a good source of information about particular daycares and any prior problems at a facility. Our Atlanta child injury lawyers welcomes the chance to fight for a child who has been injured at a daycare or anywhere else.
Wrongful Death of a Child
The right to recover money damages for the wrongful death of a child (who dies without leaving a spouse or child) rests with the parents of the deceased child if they are married or living together. This is generally pursued as one civil action. If both parents of the deceased child are living, but are divorced, separated, or living apart, then the right to pursue the action lies with both parents.
Either parent may ask the Court to allocate proceeds between the parents considering many factors, such as support, time spent with the child, etc. In the event that there is no surviving parent, then an administrator of the child’s estate can bring a claim on behalf of the next of kin (often a sibling or grandparent).
Liability Issues With Children
Many people wonder if a child can be held accountable for certain actions which might be considered negligent. For example, what if a child is injured due to the negligence of someone else, but the child also acted inappropriately in some way? Whether or not a young child may be negligent is always the subject of much debate under Georgia law.
Specifically, whether a jury may consider if young child has been negligent or exercised “due care” is a tricky one. Georgia law mandates that “the term ‘due care,’ when used in reference to a child of tender years, is such care as the child’s mental and physical capacities enable him to exercise in the actual circumstances of the occasion and situation under investigation.” This seems to indicate that Georgia law mandates that each situation be assessed in light of the particular child and specific actions at issue.
Therefore, Georgia courts have held that “the jury is in the best position to size up all the particular evidence in the case and bring its collective common knowledge of children’s capacities to bear in determining first, whether the child was capable of negligence in the premises and second, whether the child was negligent.” This decision was given in the case Pearson v. Small World Day Care Center, Inc., 234 Ga. App. 843, 845 (1998). The conclusion reached from this case and others is that a jury in Georgia is generally authorized to decide whether or not a young child is capable of negligence.
Car Accidents in Georgia remain Top Killer of Children
Car accidents in Atlanta remain the primary cause of death for all children in Georgia between the ages of 1 and 12. Many times, parents do everything they can to safeguard their children and, unfortunately, bad outcomes still occur. However, child injuries and death during Georgia car accidents can be minimized or prevented by taking simple precautions.
Amazingly, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (the entity that regulates child safety seats) reports that approximately 40% of kids who suffer terrible injuries or death during an auto collision are unrestrained or not restrained properly. Considering that car seats are over 70% effective at preventing injury to infants during a crash, parents must take the time to learn how to use the child safety seats effectively.
In Georgia, lawmakers have recognized the importance of child safety seats. Georgia law mandates that all children under 6 years old must ride in the backseat of a car. Importantly, it does not matter how tall the child is; he or she must ride in the backseat until over the age of 6. If there is no back seat in a vehicle, such as in some pick-up trucks, the child may ride in the front seat if he or she is properly restrained.
Children under 6 also must be in a child seat or booster seat which is suitable for the age and height. Pediatricians are good resources if parents have any questions.
Finally, many consumers’ reports are available online allowing parents to shop for, and more importantly, compare various child safety seats.
Children Injured by Drunk Drivers
All child injury cases are terrible, as no child in Atlanta, or anywhere else, should ever be injured because someone else was careless and negligent. However, among the most egregious cases we see are those involving kids who have been badly injured by drunk drivers operating on Georgia’s roads and highways.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Injuries and Related Lawsuits
- Accidents are the leading cause of disability and death for U.S. minors
- Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children between 5 and 19
- Swimming pool drownings are the number one cause of accidental death for children between 1 and 4
Accidental injuries are the number one cause of morbidity and death for U.S. minors. Every year, around 12,000 children under the age of 19 die from accident injuries, and 9.2 million are treated in emergency departments.
Child injuries are devastating, and families may not know what to do next when their child is hurt. They can use the answers to commonly asked legal questions below to get an idea of what their best course of action might involve. Then, they can choose to work with an experienced child injury lawyer in Georgia to ensure their interests are represented accurately and fairly in the legal system.
Serious car crashes happen every day, and many involve occupants who are minors. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death for children between 5 and 19 years old, according to the CDC.
If your child was involved in any accident whatsoever, take them immediately to the nearest emergency department (ER). Children are less able to communicate their symptoms, so they could have an injury even if they claim they are not hurt.
Medical tests and diagnostics are critical for establishing that an injury occurred after an accident, reducing the chances that you will have a contestable injury claim.
Whether by accident or intentional, anyone who causes your child to be injured can potentially be held liable for the medical costs as well as other damages. Anyone who was left in charge of your child may be found to be negligent, especially if they were a paid caretaker.
Your priority at this point is to get a medical exam and to file a report with your local law enforcement office. While this course of action may seem extreme in some instances, waiting too long after the injury reduces your chances of a successful claim — or a successful criminal conviction, in some cases.
States like Georgia have specific laws regarding swimming pools to protect people and especially children from what is known as “an attractive nuisance.” The CDC says that drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children from 1 to 4 years old.
To prevent drownings from occurring, pool owners must erect a tall fence. They must also rig alarms for any home windows that open up to the inside of this fenced area. All children swimming in the pool must be supervised by an adult.
If your child was injured or nearly drowned in someone’s pool, take the child for a medical exam, and file an incident report with local law enforcement.
Defective products claims demonstrate that a product had a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect that created unsafe conditions for consumers. Product manufacturers may, therefore, be held liable in some instances when their products cause an injury. In some cases, parents may even have a valid products liability claim even if they used the product contrary to its warning labels.
If your child was injured by a product, take them for emergency medical treatment. Document the product in its current state, and write down a narrative of how the injury happened. Strongly consider speaking with an Atlanta defective products lawyer before notifying the manufacturer or accepting any remedy they offer.
Since most children are healthy and heal quickly, the law takes child injuries that result from negligent medical practices quite seriously. A medical malpractice claim can help parents reclaim the costs of amending the resulting injury along with other relevant damages.
If your child was injured during her or his birth, such as being deprived of oxygen, then your medical professional may similarly be held liable in some instances.
Many child injury cases are settled out of court during negotiations with third-party insurers and other allegedly at-fault parties. Those that proceed to court need not always have the child appear at the trial.
Young children are often instead given depositions or interviews conducted by child law experts, who know how to avoid leading the child’s responses. An experienced Atlanta child injury lawyer can represent your child during these depositions.
Child injuries can often have hidden costs that insurers or others offering settlements leave out of their offers. Insurance carriers and businesses also tend to have skilled legal representation that may convince you to give up your rights to expedite the claims process.
Having an Atlanta child injury attorney at your side means you have the legal expertise and knowledge of the legal process needed to meet these parties head-on. You also have an advisor who will help you comply with court procedures so you do not have your case thrown out due to a technicality.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning you do not owe them money for their services if your case or claim does not succeed. When your case does succeed, you simply pay them a percentage of your settlement.
For medical costs, you will need to utilize your child’s medical insurance policy or your own funds to pay for the costs of treatment. You and your insurer will be reimbursed for these costs in full should your injury claim succeed.
If your child has been injured due to the error, child care negligence or recklessness of another party, they deserve justice. Age should not be a factor when it comes to determining what is right and who should be compensated. At the Law Offices of Andrew E. Goldner, your Atlanta child injury attorney, we represent clients of any age who have suffered injury through no fault of their own.
Call our office at 404-869-1580 today or reach out to us online. Your child injury case will be handled with dignity and compassion. You can rest assured that we will fight tirelessly for the rights of your child and put our experience to work in retrieving the compensation your family deserves.
In most cases, we try to reach daycare negligence settlements out of court, as this is quicker and less expensive. However, if we can’t get you the compensation you deserve, we are ready to take your case to court.
Reach out to our team of Atlanta daycare injury lawyers today to discover more about your legal rights.
Has Your Child Been Injured? Contact Andy Goldner, the Atlanta Child Injury Lawyer
Law Offices of Andrew Goldner, LLC | Atlanta Child Injury Lawyer
Phone: (404) 869-1580