Common causes of accidental injury among children include:
- Falls. Like anyone, a child can slip and fall because of wet and slippery floors, snow and ice, uneven sidewalks, potholes and similar hazards. Toddlers can fall down steps and stairs and be injured in the absence of gates or other barriers and/or proper adult supervision.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents. Children are injured and die as passengers in cars and small trucks, even when properly belted into child safety seats. They also are injured in accidents as pedestrians and bicyclists hit by vehicles.
- Burns. Younger children are often burned by hot liquids or steam in connection with food and drink or bath water, or from electrical appliances and outlets. Older children are more likely to suffer burns from direct contact with fire or explosions, such as from playing with matches or fireworks.
- Drowning. Small children left unattended in baths can drown in minutes. As children get older, they are more likely to drown in pools, hot tubs, ponds, lakes, or rivers.
- Poisoning. Household chemicals and cleaners, certain plants, medications and illicit drugs that are not properly secured can poison young children who frequently explore their world by putting things in their mouths.
- Suffocation. Infants are most likely to suffocate because of how they are placed in bedding. Toddlers are more likely to choke on food, small toys or other objects. Older children may suffocate when they become entrapped in air-tight spaces, such as in an abandoned refrigerator or buried by the cave-in of sand, mulch, or gravel.
What If My Child Was Injured at School?
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When you send your child to school, you do so with the understanding that the State of New York, through the school, is providing your child an education in a reasonably safe environment. It’s understood that large schools are a microcosm of society, good and bad, but a school’s faculty and staff have a legal duty to protect students under their supervision.
When a child is injured at school, even if the school or a school employee didn’t directly cause the accident, the school district may be legally responsible.
For example, if a teacher left a classroom and an accident occurred in his or her absence, the teacher may be liable for neglecting his or her supervisory duties. If a child was injured on playground equipment that was not properly maintained, the maintenance or custodial staff may be liable. In either case, the school system may be held liable as the employer of the negligent faculty or staff member.
In most personal injury cases, a claim could be filed against the at-fault party, which would lead to negotiating with the insurer for compensation. However, because a public school is a government entity, a claim takes a different path.
School districts, like other governmental agencies, have sovereign immunity from many legal claims. This makes the government entity and its employees immune from lawsuits, except under specific circumstances. Claims against public agencies require filing a “Notice of Claim,” which gives the school system or other governmental entity a first opportunity to consider and resolve a claim or, in many cases, deny the claim’s validity. If your child is enrolled in a private school, sovereign immunity does not apply.
To hold a New York public school district liable for a student’s injury, you must file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the incident. After 30 days, if the school district denies the claim or takes no action, you can proceed with a lawsuit against the school district filed in the New York Supreme Court.
In most cases, public school teachers, coaches, principals and other administrators cannot be held individually liable for a child’s injury in a routine accident at school. But an educator or staff member might be individually sued for wanton, heinous, or malicious acts, such as assault or sexual misconduct committed against a student or the purposeful neglect of assigned duties that led to an injury.
In other cases, a third party may be responsible for a child’s injury. Usually, a third-party lawsuit occurs when an injury is caused by faulty and/or unsafe equipment, such as brake failure by a school bus or faulty playground or athletic equipment. Such a lawsuit would seek to hold the manufacturer and/or the distributor liable for a child’s injuries.
Typical school student injuries that we assist families with include:
- Playground injuries
- School bus injuries
- Sports injuries
- Food poisoning/food allergy reactions
- Premises maintenance/slip and fall injuries
- Assault /bullying/violence injuries
- Cyberbullying / cyberstalking.
Finding Fault in Child Injury Accidents
Some childhood injuries are simply accidents, and some are due to negligent supervision. If an adult in charge of a child neglected his or her specific or general duties for ensuring that child’s safety and the child was hurt, that adult and/or the employing agency may be held responsible.
As child injury attorneys, we examine the initial reports filed when children are injured, such as by police, schools, day care centers, businesses and other organizations, and then work to independently gather our own evidence. There are multiple potential sources of evidence, ranging from eyewitness accounts to video from security cameras and data available from the event data recorder in a motor vehicle accident. When warranted, we hire accident reconstructionists and other forensic specialists to help explain how a child was badly injured.
In addition to determining who should be held liable for the accident, we calculate the total amount of money the accident has cost our clients. This includes what it is likely to cost them in the future because of lingering pain, disability or disfigurement. When a child has suffered disabling injuries, future cost projections must account for ongoing medical needs as well as special education requirements and the parents’ losses from additional time spent as the child’s caregiver and advocate for services.
Our demand for monetary damages also takes into account the pain and suffering of the child and parents. After a long-term, disabling or disfiguring injury, this includes the loss of childhood participation opportunities, as well as potentially limited opportunities in education, employment and dating and marriage as the child becomes an adult.
We conduct thorough investigations and present detailed cases in negotiations with insurers that represent the liable parties. We press hard for a proper settlement so your family is compensated quickly for your losses and can get on with recovery and a life free from financial worry.
When insurance companies refuse to do what is proper and warranted by the facts of a case, we are prepared to go to court to fight for justice on our clients’ behalf.
Get Help from a Long Island Child Injury Lawyer Today
If your child has been injured while on someone else’s care, you need to protect your family’s rights to restitution. Do not make a recorded statement or sign any papers offered by any representative of your child’s school, daycare center, sitter service or other officials, attorneys or insurance company without first speaking with a Long Island child accident attorney from Cohen & Jaffe. We can help you obtain full and fair compensation for your child’s injury and its impact on your family.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you. There is no charge for a legal consultation and claim evaluation. Phone us or fill out our online contact form, and we will respond immediately. We can meet with you at your home, workplace or in the hospital if you prefer.