Our Atlanta Child Injury Lawyer Explain the Legal Process for Georgia Accident Claims
Often, when a parent’s child has been injured, the parents are understandably angry and determined to punish the defendant at any cost. Still, it’s always best to try and set your emotions aside and focus entirely on what’s best for the injured child moving forward, although this is certainly easier said than done.
The majority of all types of personal injury cases are settled, and for good reasons. Although there is a possibility that you may recover more compensation from a trial verdict than you would in a settlement, remember that claimants start off with a significant advantage over defendants in settlement negotiations, in that the claimant has superior bargaining power due to costs. While the claimant is typically operating under a contingency fee basis, like clients of our Atlanta child injury lawyer team at Gilormo Injury Law, defendants are typically paying their lawyers on an hourly basis. For the defendant, the longer the process goes on, the more money they are spending.
Other advantages to settlements include significantly less stress, the benefits of predictability regarding the outcome, the advantages of a much quicker end to the ordeal, and the privacy afforded to the parties involved in the settlement.
Child Injury Statistics According to the CDC
As a parent who is struggling to cope with the effects of a child injury, our Georgia child injury lawyer wants you to know that you are not alone. In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injuries during childhood are extremely common. For example, the CDC reports that “nearly 150 children ages 0 to 19 are treated every hour in U.S. emergency departments for crash-related injuries.” Childhood injuries from other causes are common as well.
Here are some more statistics on child injuries from the CDC:
- Car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires and falls are among the leading causes of child injuries in the United States.
- While injury-related deaths among children dropped nearly 30 percent over the last decade, injuries are still the leading cause of death among children.
- Although injury-related deaths among children have dropped overall, there has been about a 30 percent increase in deaths due to accidental suffocation. Many of these deaths occur while infants are sleeping in their cribs.
- The United States’ rate of injury-related child deaths is among the worst of all high-income countries, trailing only New Zealand and Mexico.
- Fortunately, Georgia has one of the lowest rates of injury-related child deaths. Our state’s rate is between 4.0 and 10.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
In addition to car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires and falls, the CDC also warns parents to be cognizant of several other childhood risks as well. This includes risks such as:
- Bicycle accidents
- Playground accidents
- Sports accidents
- Unsafe child seats
- Unsafe helmets
Your Atlanta Child Injury Attorney Can Pursue Substantial Compensation
Generally, future expenses are greater according to the amount of time they must be paid, which is longer for children. Also, some courts may be more sympathetic when it comes to the pain and suffering of a child.
In most states, including Georgia, if a child is injured in a vehicle accident that was someone else’s fault, a claim for damages may be made that is similar to those available to adults. There are, however, some key differences.
When a child is injured in a vehicle accident, the child and the child’s parents have separate and independent claims for damages. The child’s claim includes:
- Medical expenses that will be incurred after the child turns eighteen,
- Loss of income that would be earned after the child turns eighteen, and
- The child’s physical and mental pain and suffering.
The parents’ claim includes all medical and other necessary expenses related to the injury of the child up to age 18, and loss of the child’s services. Georgia law does not recognize a claim for injury to society and companionship in the parent-child relationship.
Important Differences Between Adult and Child Personal Injury Claims in Georgia
We’ve already discussed one of the biggest differences between adult and child personal injury cases—the fact that parents and children have separate and independent claims for damages. However, there are some other key differences of which parents should be aware as well.
Insurance Companies Blaming Children (and Parents) for What Happened
For example, insurance companies are far more likely to blame children (or their parents) for their own injuries. In Georgia, if an accident victim is 50 percent or more at fault for his or her own injuries, then the victim (and the victim’s family) cannot recover any financial compensation. If an accident victim is less than 50 percent at fault, then his or her damages (and in the case of a child injury, the parent’s damages) will be reduced in proportion to his or her percentage of fault. By claiming that a child (or the child’s parent) is responsible for what happened, insurance companies can try to avoid liability. But, with an experienced Georgia child injury attorney representing your family, it will be possible to overcome this defense tactic in many cases.
Liability Waivers for Youth Activities in Georgia
Another issue that is more likely to come up in child injury cases is the issue of waiving liability. Businesses, sports leagues, schools and other entities will often require parents to sign liability waivers in order to allow their children to participate in activities. While Georgia law recognizes the enforceability of these waivers in some cases, some waivers will be deemed void in violation of public policy, and many waivers are not written well enough to fully shield these entities from liability.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Contact an Atlanta Child Injury Lawyer
The time deadline by which you must file a lawsuit is called the “statute of limitations.” For example, if the personal injury statute of limitations is two years, then a claimant has two years from the date of the injury to file a legal claim for that injury. Otherwise, the claimant loses the right to file a claim.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is indeed typically two years, but for child injuries, the two-year statute of limitations is suspended, or “tolled,” until the child’s eighteenth birthday, meaning the deadline doesn’t begin to count down until that date. Therefore, legal claims for injuries to a minor may generally be filed at any time up to the minor’s twentieth birthday.
If you are a parent whose child was injured in any way, it’s best to contact an Atlanta child injury lawyer at Gilormo Injury Law as soon as possible so that the statute of limitations does not even become a troublesome issue.
Common Personal Injury Cases Involving Injuries to Children
As a parent you understand that it takes only seconds for a child to find danger in even the most familiar of situations, playing with the simplest of products, in a place you believe to be safe. Schools, playgrounds, daycare facilities, hospitals, even our neighbors’ homes are natural places for our children, where we don’t expect harm.
But that’s the nature of an accident – they happen when you least expect. It could be that a school bus hits a telephone pole, or your child chases his favorite ball into the street, or a construction site at the end of your block with an unfenced pool. You may notice bruises while changing a diaper, or get a phone call from your caretaker that there’s an emergency – your daughter has swallowed a pen cap. Each of these accidents involving young children have the potential for a personal injury lawsuit.
Atlanta child injury lawyer Amber Gilormo has been practicing personal injury law, helping families of injured children, for over a decade. We understand the top risks for young children and know who to hold accountable when a serious injury happens.
Birth injuries are sustained as a result of physical pressure on the child during the birthing process or oxygen deprivation and can result in serious life-altering conditions like Cerebral Palsy.
Daycare Negligence in Atlanta
Accidents during pick up and drop off transportation, choking, and burns are common accidents that happen at daycare facilities throughout Atlanta.
Atlanta Child Injury Lawyer for School Accidents
Similar to daycares, both public and private schools have an obligation to keep your child safe. While many schools take safety very seriously, bus accidents, slips, trips and falls and abuse can still occur.
Georgia and Atlanta Playground Accidents
Playground owners have a legal obligation to ensure that it is safe for children to play on. Serious accidents can occur when owners fail to maintain or repair their playgrounds or warn people of their inherent dangers.
Defective Toys & Products for Children
Defective household products and toys pose a risk for choking, as well as burn and crush injuries. If a product failed to work as intended and created a dangerous situation, you may have a product liability lawsuit.
Injuries on Someone Else’s Property
Accidents on someone else’s property require input from an Atlanta child injury lawyer to determine if the injury is a result of an “attractive nuisance” on the premises.