When a child is seriously injured as a result of the negligent or intentional act of another, it is especially difficult not only for the child who must cope with the pain of the injury and, sometimes, with temporary or permanently debilitating injuries, but also for the parents and other family members who love and care for the child. The anguish of parents in seeing their children suffer is especially acute when injuries are serious, and when they are brought about as a result of reckless or irresponsible behavior by others.
As with adults, injuries to children may occur in a variety of ways, but often involve:
- Auto accidents;
- School bus accidents;
- Playground equipment;
- Slips, falls, or trips on someone else’s property;
- Ingestion of household products, such as medications, cosmetics, or cleaning substances;
- Severe burns from overheated water, or from hot implements such as ovens, stoves, or hair curlers;
- Defective or dangerous products, including toys or baby items;
- Dog or other animal bites;
- Medical malpractice;
- Swimming and other water-related accidents;
- Lead poisoning; or
- Sexual abuse or physical abuse by a teacher, coach, caregiver, or clergy member.
- Bicycle Accidents Involving Children
Remedies that May Be Involved in Personal Injury Cases for Minors
When a child suffers a serious injury, it may require costly and long-term physical therapy or physical rehabilitation, or even lifelong medical care and assisted care. Some injuries may require additional medical treatment far into the future, such as the replacement of prosthetic devices as a child grows. Even injuries that do not cause complete disability can often cause a less serious permanent disability or disfigurement that can affect a child for the rest of his or her life, impairing their ability to enjoy things in life that other people experience, or inhibit their ability to pursue certain careers or interests as they become adults.
For example, a child who suffers a back injury may recover enough to walk or run, but the impact may mean that child is unable to participate in sports, dancing, or other activities that other children and adults enjoy, and the injury may be a continual source of recurring pain and problems, limiting the child’s ability to lift objects, drive, or sit for extended periods of time. In other cases, even if the child recovers in terms of physical ability, serious scarring or disfigurement may not be physically disabling, but may make a child self-conscious or have other psychological impacts, particularly as the child reaches adolescence and adulthood.
While personal injury lawsuits provide for many types of damages, when children are injured, special calculations often have to be employed because of the unknown factors related to the child’s long-term future. The attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., know how to tackle the difficult task of determining how damages should be measured and calculated, so that injured children will be fully compensated for their injuries throughout their whole lives.
Some of the considerations that go into determining what should be included in any personal injury claim for a minor include:
- Medical expenses, both those incurred and those likely to be incurred in the future, based on the child’s normal life expectancy and the long-term anticipated costs and needs of the child;
- Actual costs of any damaged property, and loss of its use;
- Pain and suffering, not only for the period at the time of the injury and immediately following, but also any physical pain or emotional distress brought about as a result of the injury and its aftermath;
- The cost of living with any type of permanent disability, including any special equipment, architectural modifications, or limitations on where and how the injured party must live. If the injury will require the care of a nurse or other third party into the future, that cost must also be included, accounting for inflation and other future impacts on cost;
- Loss of potential future wages, salary, or earning capacity as a result of the injury. While this calculation is often difficult for a minor child, it may be calculated based on information about the child’s experience and expectations, taking into account likely scenarios based upon the family’s current situation;
- Loss of enjoyment of life, particularly where an injury is permanent or will prohibit the child from engaging in certain activities for the rest of his or her life;
- Mental anguish and emotional distress, and in particular any special emotional problems that arise for children confronted by a serious injury, such as fear, insecurity, terror, depression, or despair;
- Permanent disability or disfigurement; or
- Loss of services and/or companionship. Technically, this loss is suffered by the parents when a seriously injured child is unable to provide parents with normal chores and other services, or where the injury inhibits the parents’ ability to enjoy the companionship of their child because the injury prevents them from engaging in certain activities with that child.
Personal Injury Suits Involving Minors and Children Carry Special Considerations
When children are injured, they cannot pursue a remedy on their own. Minors (that is, children under the age of 18) may not file a lawsuit for a personal injury; instead, the parents or legal guardians of injured children must sue on their behalf. Yet children suffer in different ways than adults, and the problems their injuries cause may only manifest themselves when one takes into account the long-term perspective. Consequently, it is important to remember that, when parents or guardians hire a personal injury attorney to pursue a remedy on behalf of a minor, they need to retain an attorney who has an extensive and comprehensive understanding of the special issues and remedies involved in pursuing damages on behalf of a minor. Because the law does not allow a party to sue twice for the same injury—even if the first suit is brought by an adult guardian or parent of the party that is actually injured—there is no second chance to do it right.
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. have represented many hurt minors and their families, and we understand the importance of securing full compensation for the harm they have suffered. We have represented children injured by many causes and in many ways, including severe injuries such as brain or spinal trauma.
If you need advice and assistance determining whether or how you should pursue a lawsuit on behalf of your own minor child or a minor child who is under your legal care, contact the Illinois personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. at 855-LAW-CHICAGO, locally at 312.924.7575, or use the online consultation form. You may call at any time of day or night, and your consultation is completely free.