El Centro Child Injury Attorneys
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El Centro Child Injury Attorneys
As a military city with a naval air facility, you expect to see many young adults in El Centro. Yet more than a third of El Centro’s 44,000-some residents are younger than 18. These children brighten our city and its neighborhoods. They are, however, sometimes less cautious than adults, both more delicate and more vulnerable to serious injuries, whether on the playground equipment at Farmers Park, taking batting practice at Debbie Pittman Park or Memorial Park, skateboarding at Sidewinder Skate Park, or just playing or riding bikes by our homes.
About the El Centro Child Injury Attorneys at Our Law Firm
Our firm commits its full measure of skill and determination to represent the families of children injured in preventable accidents and incidents. As parents ourselves, we empathize with the overwhelming pain and trauma our clients experience when their child suffers a serious injury. No child should get hurt because of someone’s careless or reckless actions. Our mission is to make sure injured children and their families receive the financial support they need and deserve to recover their health and rebuild their lives.
Common Causes of Child Injury
Seven children were injured in El Centro recently when the vehicle they were riding in veered off Interstate 8 and flipped multiple times. The driver and an adult female passenger were killed in the crash. According to the California Highway Patrol, there were two children’s car seats located in the vehicle but they were not used properly. None of the nine people in the vehicle was wearing a seatbelt. The children, ranging in age from one to 12 years old, were transported to regional hospitals with injuries that included deep cuts, abrasions, burns, and broken bones.
Accidental injuries like these are a major source of death and disability in children, with more than 12,000 children younger than 19 in the U.S. dying from unintentional injuries each year. Around 9.2 million emergency department visits each year involve injuries suffered by children.
Children, in fact, face many of the same hazards in their everyday lives as adults do, and also some dangers unique to childhood.
Common causes of unintentional injury in children include:
- Motor vehicle accidents: Traffic-related accidents constitute a leading cause of serious and fatal injury for children and teenagers. Children most often suffer injury in these accidents as occupants of motor vehicles, although they also face higher risks than adults of suffering injuries in traffic incidents while riding bikes or as pedestrians.
- Falls: Falling down or from a height is a leading cause of non-fatal childhood injuries in the United States. 2.8 million children receive medical treatment for injuries sustained in a fall each year across the country. Around 50 percent of all non-fatal fall injuries leading to medical attention involve children less than a year old. Falling down stairs constitutes a particular hazard for very young children, while falls on playground equipment, bicycles, or during active play (including sports) pose a hazard for older kids.
- Suffocation and strangling constitute leading causes of accidental death for children under a year old, often occurring when infants get trapped or constricted in a way that makes them unable to breathe.
- Drowning: A child’s innate curiosity and playfulness can have deadly implications around bodies of water. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1-4, and most commonly occurs in backyard swimming pools.
- Gunshot wounds: Every year, hundreds of children die or sustain catastrophic injuries when they or their playmates find a loaded, unlocked firearm at home and accidentally trigger it.
- Dog bites and other animal attacks: Children under the age of 10 face a particular risk of suffering injuries in an incident involving an aggressive domestic animal. Young children often do not know how to recognize the warning signs of an agitated dog, in particular, which can lead to the dog biting their face or throat and causing severe, potentially fatal, injury.
- Burns: Burn injuries can cause severe harm to children of any age, and are especially common for children younger than four. Scalding hot water causes the most childhood burns, although fire and chemical burns also pose serious risks to children.
- Poisoning: As with drowning, poisoning in children often results from a child’s natural curiosity. The causes of accidental poisoning include a child consuming a toxic substance or exposure to toxic substances such as lead paint or carbon monoxide in the child’s environment.
- Sports injuries: children who play sports run a risk of getting hurt. Some of that risk is to be expected. Some risks, though, are not expected. Traumatic brain injuries (including concussions), bone breaks, spinal injuries, and soft tissue injuries to tendons, ligaments, and muscles, constitute particular risk areas for child athletes.
At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have the resources and know-how to help families no matter what type of incident left a child injured.
The Expense of Child Injuries
Injuries to children cost families dearly. Between the cost of medical care and the loss of work for the parent who is home caring for an injured child, the community-wide cost of childhood injuries reaches around $87 billion each year in the U.S., with families of injured children bearing the brunt of that expense.
In its National Action Plan for Child Injuries, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control broke down some of those total costs by injury type, and came up with some staggering totals:
- Motor vehicle accidents: $496 million in medical costs and $991 million in total work loss cost.
- Falls: $5 billion in medical costs and $10 billion in total work loss cost
- Struck by/against: $2.6 billion in medical costs and $5.2 billion in total work loss cost.
Parents know, of course, that financial strain represents only one of the numerous kinds of trauma a severe child injury can inflict. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we fight to make sure children and families in El Centro receive not just the financial compensation they deserve for their out-of-pocket expenses, but also for the non-financial consequences of a child injury that can affect not just the child victim, but an entire family.
Compensation for Child Injuries
Children injured because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful actions have legal rights to financial compensation. They can assert those rights themselves when they turn 18, or their parents or legal guardians may assert them while the child is still a minor. In either event, the important thing to know is that preventable childhood injuries deserve financial compensation just the same as preventable injuries to adults.
Who Owes Compensation
All people owe basic duties of care not to act in ways that put others at an unreasonable risk of injury. We owe special duties to make sure children stay safe and protected. Anyone who fails in that duty by unreasonably putting a child in harm’s way, resulting in a child injury, can face legal liability to the child and child’s parents under California law.
Parties who commonly face liability for injuries to a child can include:
- Motorists who cause accidents, and anyone legally responsible for the motorists’ actions (such as an employer of a driver who crashes a work vehicle);
- Schools, scouting organizations, and churches that fail to supervise children in situations where they may suffer an injury;
- Sports leagues, coaches, and referees who unreasonably put children in harm’s way during games or practices;
- Medical professionals who fail to diagnose or treat a child’s dangerous health condition;
- Property owners who fail to take reasonable steps to keep children out of harm’s way around swimming pools, trampolines, and other “attractive” property features;
- Manufacturers of consumer products that children use (like toys) or accidentally encounter (such as poisonous household cleaners).
One of the most important jobs we often have at Gomez Trial Attorneys is investigating a case involving child injury to identify all parties who may have legal liability for a child’s injury. We try to leave no stone unturned, to give our clients the best opportunity possible to recover the compensation they deserve.
Types of Compensation
The compensation El Centro child injury victims and their families might recover varies widely depending on the circumstances.
As a general matter, however, victims of child injury typically have a legal right to recover compensation to pay for:
- Medical expenses related to care and treatment of an injury, including co-pays, deductibles, hospitalization, medication, and surgeries;
- Non-medical expenses that a family incurs because of a child’s injuries, such as the cost of hiring extra help around the home;
- Lost wages that a parent or guardian misses out on earning while taking time off to care for an injured child; and
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life endured by the child and family because of a preventable child injury.
Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to discuss the compensation you may have the right to recover after an El Centro-area child injury upends your life.
Preventing Child Injuries
While not all accidents are preventable, parents can help keep their children safe and avoid potential injury.
Some tips for preventing child injuries include:
- Always buckle your child into an age-appropriate and properly installed car seat when riding in the car.
- Model safe driving behavior by not texting and driving or giving in to other distractions.
- Set rules for teen drivers, including limiting the number of peer passengers in the vehicle, prohibiting cell phone use while driving, and avoiding driving at night for the first year after obtaining a driver’s license.
- Place infants on their backs to sleep. The mattress used for the infant should be firm, and bedding should be used sparingly. Avoid co-sleeping to protect against accidental suffocation.
- Require your child to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, scooter, or skateboard. California law requires the use of bicycle helmets for children ages 17 and younger who ride on public streets, bike paths, or trails.
- Fence-in and lock backyard swimming pools, and set strict rules for when children can swim. Never allow children to swim unsupervised by an adult who can swim and knows basic CPR.
- Supervise young children around any amount of water, including while they are in the bath or playing with buckets at the beach. Accidents can happen in as little as one inch of water.
- Set your home hot water heater at a temperature no hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding.
- Store matches, lighters, flammable and toxic substances in areas where they cannot be accessed by small children.
- Store firearms unloaded and in a locked safe to which only adults have the combination.
- Install and change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home.
- Protect infants against accidental falls down stairs by using temporary gates and avoiding the use of infant walkers.
- Never leave children unattended with a dog unfamiliar to them, and teach children about how to spot the warning signs of a frightened or agitated dog.
El Centro Child Injury Frequently Asked Questions FAQs
We all want to keep our children safe. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try to protect them, they will most likely sustain injuries at some point. Indeed, unintentional injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, over 12,000 individuals under the age of 19 die from unintentional injuries, and over 9.2 million receive emergency treatment for nonfatal injuries.
California has one of the lowest rates of child injury death, 4.0 to 10.9 per 100,000 children younger than 19. However, one injury is one too many.
When your child sustains an injury, you likely will want answers regarding how the injury occurred, who is responsible, and what the future holds.
What are the most common causes of El Centro child injuries?
For children, as for people of any age, injuries can result from a wide variety of causes. Tragically, some injuries are the result of neglect or intentional abuse, but there are also many common types of unintentional injury. The leading causes of unintentional injury vary by age. Statistics show that motor vehicle accidents cause most child injuries. Falls and being struck by objects are other leading causes of injury, especially for younger children (ages 0 to 9 years old).
Recent studies have also shown that motor vehicle injuries have increased as a result of teenagers being distracted by using electronic devices, like cell phones and headsets.
Generally, however, this is how children find themselves injured in El Centro:
- Motor vehicle accidents. In just one recent year in the United States, motor vehicle crashes killed 675 children 12 years old and younger. Approximately 116,000 suffered non-fatal injuries. Last year, motor vehicle crashes accounted for one-fifth of all deaths among children and adolescents. According to 2015 data, 73 percent were in the car, and 27 percent were not, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Under California law, all children under the age of 8 must be properly secured in the back seat, using an appropriate car seat or booster seat. All children under two years old—unless they weigh 40 or more pounds or are more than 40 inches tall—must ride in a rear-facing car seat. Children who are eight years of age, or 4’9” or taller, may use a booster seat. Children over eight years of age must wear a seat belt.
- Suffocation. Suffocation accounted for 85.4 percent (991 deaths) of unintentional injury deaths among infants, far more than any other single cause. At one year of age, the number dropped significantly. By the time the child is 12 years or older, suffocation caused fewer than 5 percent of unintentional injury deaths.
- Drowning. The risk of drowning is very high among young children. From ages 1 to 4, drowning represented approximately 25 to 39 percent of unintentional injury deaths. Drowning caused approximately 2.5 percent of unintentional injury deaths among infants, and 31.9 percent for 1-year-olds. Among 2-year-old children, far more died from drowning than from motor vehicle accidents, but among 3-year-old children, the reverse is true.
- Poisoning. Poisoning accounted for less than 10 percent of unintentional injury deaths from infancy to age 17. However, among 18- and 19-year-olds, the rate of unintentional poisoning deaths shot up to 16 percent and 21.1 percent, respectively. Many of these deaths were drug-related, frequently involving prescription opioids.
- Falls. The CDC reports that falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries for children up to the age of 19.
- Burns. Young children are more likely to suffer burns from hot liquids or steam, and older children are more likely to suffer burns from direct contact with fire.
- Violence. According to the CDC, about 1,300 young people are treated in emergency departments each day for nonfatal assault injuries.
What are some of the most common El Centro child injuries?
Different dangers arise in different settings, whether it’s in daycare centers, in schools, while riding in motor vehicles, or while participating in recreational activities.
Potential injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Serious neck and back injuries
- Multiple bone fractures
- Burn injuries
- Internal injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Emotional distress
Who is liable for an El Centro child injury?
When someone else’s negligence or carelessness has directly contributed to your innocent child’s injury, you should hold the liable party accountable.
Injuries happen in a wide variety of settings and circumstances, including:
- Schools and daycare facilities
- School and school bus accidents
- Private and community pools and hot tubs
- Boating accidents
- Biking and pedestrian accidents
- Playgrounds and parks
- Summer camp
- Dog bites
- Defective products, such as cribs, strollers, car seats, and toys
- Medical negligence
Therefore, liable parties might include:
- Property owners
- Toy manufacturers
- Pet owners
- School officials
- Sports coaches and/or players
- Health care professionals
- Playground equipment manufacturers
- Other parents
What do I need to know about El Centro child injury lawsuits?
When someone’s negligence causes a child to suffer an injury, the parents (or legal guardian) of the injured child may take legal action against the negligent party to recover compensation for damages. Parents often feel concerned that a lawsuit will cause their child to suffer additional trauma; however, the laws have changed dramatically in recent years to protect child injury victims. A child does not have the legal standing to file a personal injury lawsuit until he or she reaches the age of 18. Intsead, a parent or legal guardian must file the child injury lawsuit on behalf of the child. Negligence is the basis of most child injury claims, which means that the responsible party failed to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have used in a similar situation.
In California, you must establish the following elements to prove negligence on the part of the defendant:
- The defendant had a duty to act (or refrain from action).
- The defendant breached this duty.
- The defendant’s breach caused the accident that led to the plaintiff’s injury.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, or pain and suffering.
California child injury lawsuits are different from other types of personal injury lawsuits. For example, when a child is injured, a guardian ad litem may represent the interests of the child. A court appoints a guardian ad litem (GAL) to act on behalf of a child. GALs protect and represent a child’s best interest in a particular case. The Court chooses the GAL, who may also be one of the minor child’s parents. The GAL is not a party to the lawsuit and has no right to recovery. He or she is simply acting on behalf of the child.
Another major difference in child lawsuits is how the funds from a judgment or settlement are handled. There is a good chance that your child injury lawsuit will settle out of court, as over 90 percent of child injury and death cases settle at some time before trial. After the settlement or judgment is reached and costs have been paid, the law requires that the child’s compensation be placed in an annuity or a blocked account until the child is an adult.
After the child turns 18‚ the Court will disburse all funds to the child. The rule is meant to ensure that the money will not be used for any purposes other than the child. Parents need to petition the Court for any periodic, necessary expenditures. The Court will only grant these requests if the expenses relate to the child’s injury.
How soon must I file a lawsuit on behalf of my child?
If your child is injured, you generally have until your child’s 18th birthday to file a lawsuit, and once your child turns 18, he or she has an additional one year to file. The exception to the usual statute of limitations rules occurs in medical malpractice cases and cases against government entities. For example, in cases against government entities, plaintiffs should file their claims within six months; courts may allow a late claim up until one year from the date of the accident.
In cases in which your child has died, you have two years from the date of the death to file, unless the case involves a government entity, in which case you have six months to file. In a medical malpractice case, you have three years from the date of the malpractice or one year from the date that you discovered that your child died as a result of the malpractice, whichever is sooner.
Importantly, there has been a major recent change in the statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. As of January 1, 2020, survivors of abuse have a three-year window to file civil claims that were barred under the prior law. Previously, in most cases, childhood sexual assault victims could only file a lawsuit against the perpetrators until the age of 26. Under the new law, victims can file civil claims until the age of 40. Survivors over 40 must file their claims within five years of when they made, or should have made, the connection between their abuse and their adult psychological injuries or illnesses.
Parents should consult a child injury attorney as soon as possible to avoid losing the right to file a lawsuit.
What if my child died due to the fault of another?
In this tragic situation, whether still living together or separated, parents have a right to bring a lawsuit for their loss of comfort, society, and child care. No amount of money can compensate for the loss of a child, but in some situations, it helps to know that the wrongdoer was held accountable.
What type of compensation is possible in an El Centro child injury case?
The consequences of a child injury often include enormous financial stress and emotional pain for both children and their families. In California, injured victims are entitled to full compensation for all of their injury-related losses, including all medical expenses and pain and suffering. The child’s parents may recover medical costs and expenses related to the injury while the child is a minor. After the child reaches the age of majority, the right to recover medical costs and expenses related to the injury shifts to the child.
An injured child may also seek to recover for the following:
- Loss of future wages or earning capacity, which the child will experience after reaching age 18
- Any type of injuries
- Temporary and/or permanent impairment disabilities
- Past and future pain and suffering (including mental anguish)
- In some cases, the court may award punitive damages.
California is one of only a few states that provide for wrongful life lawsuits, which are legal claims against healthcare professionals or hospitals for the failure to provide information regarding the risk of being born with either a genetic impairment or disability.
What should parents do when their child is injured in an El Centro accident?
The first and most important step is getting prompt medical attention for your child. Even if it seems that the injuries are minor, symptoms of some injuries may take days or longer to appear. Some types of injuries have long term physical or psychological consequences.
After ensuring proper medical care for their children, parents should take the following steps:
- Document the injuries. Take pictures of the injuries and the accident site. Over time, essential evidence, such as video recordings of the accident, may be lost, so it’s important to begin gathering evidence immediately after an accident.
- Collect information. If you were not present, go to the site of the accident, collect phone numbers and addresses of other victims, drivers, and witnesses to the accident, and any other pertinent information.
- Collect and preserve records. Keep copies of all the relevant paperwork from the hospital and treating physicians.
- Do not sign a release or agree to an insurance settlement without first consulting Gomez Trial Attorneys.
- Consult an El Centro child injury lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible.
A child injury may result in permanent or temporary brain damage, partial or complete paralysis, disfigurement, and disability. An injured child may require a lifetime of medical and emotional care. If your child has sustained an injury due to the actions of someone else, consult an experienced, compassionate El Centro child injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. For further information, or to schedule a free case evaluation, call Gomez Trial Attorneys.
If Your Child Was Injured
There are few things in life worse for a parent than knowing that their child was injured and is in pain. While parents have an enormous responsibility to keep a child safe, that responsibility is shared by others as well. No child should ever suffer because of someone’s carelessness or recklessness. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we hold individuals, companies, and government agencies accountable when their dangerous decisions and actions lead to a child getting hurt.
If your child suffered an injury in a preventable accident or incident in any El Centro-area setting—at school, on the playground, in a neighbor’s backyard, on a scouting trip, or on the sports field—you may have the legal right to seek substantial compensation to pay for your child’s care and recovery.
Do not wait to seek experienced, compassionate legal representation. Contact the caring, committed El Centro personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation to learn about your and your child’s legal rights to the financial compensation you need and deserve. You can reach us online or by calling (619) 237-3490.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
2299 West Adams Avenue, Suite 102
El Centro, CA 92243
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