One of the most heartbreaking things a parent can endure is having a child become injured. The parents of 9.2 million children experience this firsthand every year when their child is treated at an emergency room for an injury. Some of these injuries can have life-altering effects on their victims, and an estimated 12,175 children will even die from them. Some of the most common causes of accidents among children include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Animal bites
- Amusement park accidents
- Playground injuries
- Sports accidents
Causes of Child Accidents
Accidents can occur for a number of reasons, with some of the more common ones being:
- Negligence on the part of a caregiver
- Faulty equipment
- Poisonous substances being left out
- Improper supervision
- Children who engage in activities that are inappropriate for their age
- Lack of safety equipment
When accidents happen at school or day care, they could be the result of negligent hiring practices, distracted workers or the organization supervising too many children. Employers are typically held responsible for the actions of their employees in these situations.
Most Common Types of Child Injuries
By far, the biggest category of accidents involves motor vehicles, with an estimated 8% of all car accident victims nationwide being under the age of 14. In 2011, motor vehicle accidents caused the death of 895 children under the age of four. This accounted for around 55% of all accident deaths among this age group. Approximately 17,000 children are injured annually in school bus accidents. More than 40% of those injuries happen when a bus collides with another vehicle, while 24% happen when getting on or off the bus. The most common type of injury varies according to age group. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four. The leading cause of nonfatal accidents for children of all age groups is being struck by or against an object. Falls are another common category, with around 2.8 million children being seen in an emergency room annually as a result of them. Falls in general account for over half of all injuries to children less than one year of age.
Possible Child Injuries
Childhood injuries can encompass a number of things ranging from mild bruising to traumatic head injuries. Approximately 435,000 children visit the emergency room each year for suspected cases of traumatic brain injury, and these visits result in around 37,000 extended hospital stays. Other common injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Sprains and strains
- Severed limbs
Some children may suffer from more than one type of injury from the same accident. These injuries could require them to miss school or other activities while they attend physical therapy, have surgery, or are bedridden as part of their recovery.
Duty of Care for Young Kids
Those who deal with children on a regular basis are required to take necessary precautions to prevent injuries. The exact requirements will vary according to the nature of the business or relationship; however, a few of the things that must commonly be done are:
- Warning others of the risks involved
- Giving ample training and/or supervision before engaging in risky activities
- Performing safety inspections
- Using safe hiring practices to ensure the right employees are chosen to supervise children
- Ensuring the right safety precautions are in place
When an establishment fails to take the necessary precautions, it could be liable for any damages that might occur. Manufacturers of faulty equipment can also be held liable for damages if a child is injured. There are typically more than 100 recalls on child products annually, with only around 10% of them ever being fixed or returned. That is likely due to the fact that parents do not know about the recall, since advertising dollars are not often spent to promote them. In determining negligence, the courts will look at what a reasonable person would have done under the same set of circumstances.
If they determine that an individual’s actions (or lack thereof) led directly to the injury, he or she could then be held liable for damages. The fact that a child acted recklessly or trespassed on another person’s property does not preclude parents from recovering damages. Homeowners are required to take reasonable precautions against “attractive nuisances” such as swimming pools and trampolines, since children are often intrigued by them and may access them without the owner’s knowledge. Parents can be entitled to recover damages for medical care, both now and in the future, in addition to damages for emotional pain and suffering.
Damages for loss of consortium, which is the loss of the child’s affection, may also be awarded in certain circumstances. For many parents, the only thing more difficult than dealing with their child’s injury is attempting to recover damages from the responsible party. Unfortunately, many people attempt to sidestep responsibility, even when children are injured. A good number of victims find themselves having no other alternative but to speak with an attorney.