Brooklyn Child Injury Attorney
Childhood injuries stem from multiple causes, including car crashes, defective toys and other products, and accidents in school or at home. If your child is injured through the negligent action of another party, whether it is the driver of the vehicle responsible for a crash or the manufacturer of a defective toy, the Brooklyn child injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers LLP can help you see that justice is done. You and your child may pursue compensation for the injuries and their effects.
At Jacoby & Meyers LLP, we have represented clients in many child injury claims. Here are just a couple of our past successes:
- $950,000 to the family of a child whose severe burns landlord negligence caused
- $2.65 million in a birth malpractice settlement
While these results do not guarantee future results for any client, we can assure you that if you choose the Brooklyn child injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers LLP, we could help you in multiple aspects of your case—including negotiating with insurance companies, investigating the causes, assessing liability, and pursuing your claims in court. Call us today.
The Most Common Causes of Childhood Injury
Unintentional injuries are the top killer of young children and teenagers in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Injuries are responsible for roughly 12,000 deaths nationwide of children 19 years and younger every year. Over 9.2 million are treated for injuries, including trips to the emergency room, extensive hospitalization and treatment, and at-home care.
According to the CDC, the most common causes of childhood injury are:
- Motor vehicle crashes (car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, public transportation, school bus, and more)
These results vary by age. For children between five and 19 years old, vehicle crashes are the single highest cause of injuries and deaths, according to the CDC. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old, and suffocation causes roughly 66 percent of deaths for children less than one year old.
These statistics mean that an apartment, a friend’s house, school, the local park and swimming pool, or after-school activities are all potentially dangerous for children—as is transportation to and from school.
But the statistics on common causes of childhood injury tell only part of the story, of course. The fact is, childhood injuries stem from almost any cause. A defective or dangerous product, such as an exploding toy or flammable pajamas. An improperly installed water heater that topples and crushes a child. Plastic bags used in dry cleaning or grocery packing present choking hazards. A dog attack. Medical injuries, either at birth or later. Even child abuse, or shootings or other attacks at school.
These injuries can cause lasting harm, making the child’s later attempts at earning a livelihood challenging or even impossible.
Negligence: A Failure of the Duty of Care
If your child is injured due to the actions (or lack of action) of another party, you may deserve compensation for their injuries under the law.
For example, consider the following scenario: your child suffers injuries in a car crash caused by a driver who runs a red light. The duty of care for all drivers is to follow the traffic laws and regulations and to drive safely and prudently. In running through a red light, a driver has arguably violated all aspects of the duty of care. A driver whose actions cause a crash is negligent. Negligence brings with it liability, or financial responsibility for the harm caused by a negligent action.
Although the example above is a car crash, the concept of liability applies to all childhood injuries, from any cause. Homes, schools, playgrounds, parks, and other common sites that children are in, should all meet safety standards. Landlords, school districts, cities and states, and other authorities responsible for maintaining these sites owe a duty of care to make them as reasonably safe as possible. Toys and other products used by children should meet safety standards. Owners should prevent dangerous animals from attacking children.
Doctors should always render care that is free of harm. Care-givers should never abuse a child.
But the fact is, negligent behavior happens frequently. If it is the cause of your child’s injury, you may pursue compensation from the negligent parties.
Damage Compensation Available for Childhood Injuries
If negligence causes an injury, the injured party and their representatives could seek compensation for:
Medical expenses for a broad range of medical treatment, including emergency room treatment, ambulance transportation, hospitalization, diagnostic tests, surgery, doctor’s appointments, prescription medication, physical therapy, assistive devices, and more.
If medical treatment is expected to continue in the future, compensation for future treatment is possible.
Severe injuries may necessitate ongoing caregiving and assistance or modifications to a home or vehicle. All of these are potentially compensable under medical expenses.
The lifetime value of earnings – Severe injuries can make the eventual earning of a livelihood challenging or impossible. In these cases, the compensation can include the estimated lifetime value of earnings.
Pain and suffering – In most cases, plaintiffs can seek pain and suffering compensation from physical, emotional, and mental damages.
Seeking Damage Compensation in New York State
Parents and other representatives of injured children can seek damages in several ways in New York State.
New York is a no-fault state for vehicle accidents. This means that compensation to injury victims proceeds with no reference to who was at fault for the accident. Every affected person is expected to turn to their own insurance company for medical treatment. (Children, of course, are usually covered by their parents’ or guardians’ insurance policies.)
The standard personal injury protection (PIP) insurance required of motorists in the state is $50,000. This means that motorists receive up to $50,000 of PIP if they or their children are injured.
In today’s world, however, $50,000 does not cover a great deal of medical treatment. As a result, New York State allows severely injured people to pursue a claim for injury compensation if they suffer:
- Broken bones;
- Significant disfigurement;
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member;
- A significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or
- Substantially full disability for 90 days.
If your child suffered at least one of these injuries, you can either pursue a claim from the at-fault party’s insurance company or file a lawsuit in civil court.
Other Causes of Childhood Injuries in Brooklyn
For all other sources of childhood injury, plaintiffs can usually approach the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. Landlords, school districts, product manufacturers, and other potentially negligent parties usually carry insurance.
It is also possible to file a claim in civil court. Unsafe dwellings are covered under premises liability law. Unsafe or defective products are covered under product liability law. Medical malpractice is covered under medical malpractice law.
It is prudent to discuss the best course of action with our attorneys. At times, contacting insurance companies is the wisest course of action, although it may take considerable negotiation to receive a fair settlement.
But if insurance companies do not make a reasonable and just offer or the case is dragging on, either a lawsuit or the threat of one may make them settle or become your best recourse. Judges and juries are often more sympathetic to childhood injuries than insurance claims adjusters are. The insurance companies know it. They are not eager to go to court. So, a court case can serve as a negotiating tactic to receive justice, or actually stand as your only path to justice.
The Relationship of Civil and Criminal Courts
At times, tragically, childhood injuries may stem from crimes, such as child abuse or school shootings. If that occurs, parents and caregivers need to understand that the recourse for crimes is quite different from that of negligent action.
Negligent action is handled via civil courts. Affected parties must bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party. The rectification sought is financial damage compensation for various types of harm—including physical, emotional, and mental.
Crimes, however, are handled via criminal courts. Civil and criminal courts are entirely separate. The state brings criminal charges against people or organizations that have violated the law. The rectification sought, if the defendants are found guilty, is punishment according to the law.
In most cases, you can seek compensation for injuries even if the state brings criminal charges, because the two systems are separate.
What Should I Do If My Child Suffers Injuries?
If your child suffers injuries, you should, in order of priority:
- Seek medical attention and fully treat the injuries
- Gather evidence
- Consult an attorney
This is the single most important task. While gathering evidence is important if another party is at fault, you can do that after getting medical attention for your child. But if you delay or do not seek medical attention, your child could become progressively worse or even die.
If you are in a vehicle accident, move the vehicle to a safe location and call 911. For any other type of injury, call 911 or take your child to an emergency room or doctor’s office if those locations are quickly accessible and transport poses no harm to the child.
Once your child is treated, make sure that you understand the issues and the treatment recommended. Follow up immediately on any treatment recommendations, such as filling prescriptions for medication or scheduling other appointments.
Fulfill any action the doctors recommend. If they want your child to rest in bed, for example, make sure that your child does so.
Frankly, there are two reasons for this. The chief reason is that fulfilling a doctor’s recommendations will help ensure maximum healing and a return to health.
But the second reason concerns receiving fair compensation from the at-fault party. Insurance companies and at-fault parties can exhibit a great deal of wiliness in trying to get out of paying for injuries for which they bear responsibility.
Unfortunately, insurance companies may use any evidence that you did not seek medical attention, did not follow recommendations, or did not seek follow-up treatment as evidence that your child was not injured as badly as you say. That does not mean that their allegations are true; it only means they will try to make them, and that can affect your fair compensation.
Finally, keep all medical records, including results of diagnostic tests, bills, and paperwork concerning when and where you had appointments.
All injury cases require two kinds of evidence. The first is evidence of who or what caused the injury. The second is evidence of how severe the injuries were, and what the effects were.
Keep every potential form of evidence.
Evidence can include, but is not limited to:
- Police reports (for traffic accidents)
- Pictures or videos (take pictures of your child’s injuries after treatment and of any accident scene you have access to)
- Physical evidence, such as a defective product, the product that caused burns, unsafe areas (take pictures of the latter if there is a risk that repair could render it insufficient evidence of the area’s condition)
- Eyewitness accounts
- Medical records
- Surveillance cameras, nanny cam footage, and similar evidence
- Your own notes, taken shortly after any incident
Consult Our Attorneys
Consult us. The Brooklyn Childhood Injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers LLP offer a free consultation to discuss your case. At the free consultation, it is a good idea to bring any evidence you have, as well as information about what happened and who (or what) caused the injury. Come prepared to discuss the effect of the injury on your child and your family.
Lawyers can help you investigate a case, compile evidence, and help you get the most just settlement possible. Do not try to navigate the tragedy of a childhood injury alone. Contact us today.
Brooklyn Child Injury Lawyer FAQs
At Jacoby & Meyers LLP, we tragically encounter child injury cases in Brooklyn too frequently. Below, we provide answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive and discuss how a lawyer can help you achieve justice.
The most important action to take if your child is injured is to seek immediate medical attention. Dial 911 or take your child to the nearest emergency room or your doctor’s office if transporting your child is safe without an ambulance.
Never try to treat your child yourself without getting medical attention. Even the best parents are no substitute for medical treatment. Also, do not assume because your child may not show a visible injury that they are not injured, after a car accident or any other type of accident. Many internal injuries, such as broken ribs or concussions, do not show or may not exhibit symptoms until some time has elapsed.
Follow all medical recommendations for treatment. If the doctor recommends prescription medication, for example, fill the prescription and administer it as indicated.
Never think a childhood injury is minor and will heal on its own. Children can receive permanent harm from injuries they suffer. Medical attention is imperative.
This is an excellent question! Under the law, if someone else causes injuries or other harm to someone due to negligent or reckless behavior, the negligent person is liable, or financially responsible, for injuries.
What does this mean in practice? First, your child’s injuries must stem from the actions (or lack of proper action) of a responsible party, whether it is an individual or an organization. If the injuries result from a car accident, for example, the person or organization who caused the accident bears responsibility and is thus negligent. They therefore also bear liability.
Second, you need to approach either the at-fault party’s insurance company or the at-fault party themselves, via a court case, for compensation.
In New York State, you could seek compensation for:
- Medical bills for doctor’s visits, diagnostic tests, prescription medication, emergency room treatment, and more.
- The lifetime value of earnings if your child cannot work due to injury.
- Pain and suffering for physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering.
Good point. New York State operates under a no-fault system of car insurance. All vehicle operators must carry vehicle insurance, and should carry a minimum of $50,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This coverage is, in general, expected to compensate you for injuries and other harm in the event of an accident. “No-fault” means that injuries and harm are fixed with no reference to who was at fault. It differs from a “fault” system, which operates in many states, in which injured individuals can seek compensation from the at-fault party.
But in fact, New York’s system is something of a hybrid. Folks who receive a severe injury can step outside of no-fault. This means that they can approach the at-fault party or their insurance carrier, or file a lawsuit in civil court. Stepping outside of no-fault also allows them to seek compensation for pain and suffering, which is not covered under no-fault.
Severe injuries are defined as:
- Broken bones;
- Significant disfigurement;
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member;
- A significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or
- Substantially full disability for 90 days.
Bear in mind, too, that no-fault applies only to vehicle accidents. For every other type of childhood injury caused by a negligent party, you can seek compensation from an insurance carrier or the at-fault party through a lawsuit.
Sometimes, the negligent person or organization will seem obvious. If your child is injured in a car crash caused by a speeding driver, the driver’s fault may seem self-evident.
But sometimes ascertaining negligence takes investigation. Even a speeding driver may not bear responsibility, because an investigation may reveal that the brakes or other parts of the car are defective, and thus the driver could not slow down. (In that case, by the way, the manufacturer or repair shop could bear responsibility.)
The most prudent course of action is to start with what you know. What was the most immediate cause of the injury? If a toy explodes, for example, the toy manufacturer may be held responsible—because all products sold for children should be safe for them. If your child is burned by an exploding stove, the manufacturer could bear responsibility, or your landlord could, for inadequate maintenance or installation.
If your child is injured while at school or a friend or caregiver’s house, you need, again, to start with the source of the injury, such as a jungle gym or dog. What made that source unsafe? Schools, neighbors, and caregivers should all provide safe places. If they don’t and their negligence causes injury, you may hold them responsible.
Our lawyers frequently work with investigative teams to determine responsibility in childhood injury cases in Brooklyn.
Dog bites and other attacks, such as knocking down, are some of the most common childhood injuries.
Under New York law, owners are strictly liable for paying medical expenses if a “dangerous dog” attacks someone—children included.
The law specifies that a dangerous dog:
- Behaves in a way that causes a reasonable person to believe that the dog poses a serious, imminent threat of injury or death
- Attacks and injures or kills a person, pet, or farm animal without justification
(The only exception is a dog trained and used for law enforcement.)
“Strictly liable” means the owner is responsible for your child’s medical bills even if the owner alleges reasonable precautions were in place to control or restrain the animal.
For damages beyond medical bills, you will likely need to show that the owner exhibited negligence—for example, if they failed to take reasonable steps to control or restrain the dog.
Compensation for childhood injuries depends, always, on how much injury exists and its effects. In other words, no judge will say “car accident = $5,000.” It can depend on the medical bills incurred, any effect on the child’s earning capacity, and the degree of pain and suffering.
For medical bills, compensation is arrived at by adding all incurred medical bills together. If you incurred $20,000 in medical bills, you could seek $20,000 in medical bills.
Some childhood injuries may need future treatment. In those cases, experts render an opinion that affects the damage claim. First, medical experts will testify about the recommended course of treatment and its duration. Then, experts will forecast the costs. The costs estimated can become part of the damage compensation claim.
If, for example, your child will need extensive surgery and rehabilitation and the costs are $1 million, you could seek $1 million in medical compensation.
If your child’s injury is likely to affect their future livelihood, expert opinion may estimate the degree of disability likely and the likely expected lifetime earnings your child could have received had they not suffered an injury.
In both these cases, an estimated cost is attached to treatment and loss of livelihood.
But what about pain and suffering? Those damages are more subjective. You will need a lawyer to get to know you and your child to determine a more just and accurate figure than what the insurance company will propose.
Our Brooklyn childhood injury lawyers always offer a free initial appointment, to discuss the case.
We also understand that many people hesitate to approach a lawyer because they are afraid of high legal fees.
Yet. child injury lawyers are typically paid on a contingency basis. They are paid out of any claim paid by insurance companies or any legal settlement, however your case resolves.
The better way to look at the situation is: what does not hiring a lawyer cost? You could end up with no settlement at all. Or with a settlement that is far less than a just settlement for the injury.
Most of us have watched TV shows and movies about lawyers and the legal system. We know what lawyers do: argue in court and see people in their offices.
But in fact, lawyers do much more than that. Here is what a childhood injury lawyer can do.
Negotiate with insurance companies. Sadly, insurance companies are not necessarily in the business of justice. They may look upon even the most legitimate claim against their insured as a threat to the bottom line. They may try to get out of paying at all if they can, to protect their profits.
To that end, they could use all sorts of strategies. They may flatly deny that their insured caused the injury. That may say the situation could not have caused the injury you claim it did. They may blame a different party, or on the child.
(By the way, legally, a child is only expected to behave as a reasonably prudent child of the same age would have acted. The law recognizes that children do not have the same knowledge or apprehension of danger as an adult. A three-year-old, for example, may not realize that an unsupervised swimming pool presents a danger.)
They may admit the injury but say that it should not have occasioned the medical treatment it did.
They may simply fail to contact you for months at a time. Frankly, the strategy of deferral and delay is all too common. It means that they defer and delay the processing and payment of a claim hoping you will either give up or forget.
Insurance companies also have methods of trying to ensure a low claim payout. One of them has an informal name: the lowball. It means settling a claim, often very quickly, for an amount much lower than the injury is worth.
Lawyers can help you negotiate with the insurance companies because they know all these strategies.
Investigate fault. Because many insurance companies like to deny fault, it is necessary to know who or what was at fault and have evidence. Lawyers work with investigative teams to find out who caused the accident and compile evidence.
Estimate damage compensation. Adding up your bills and other expenses can cause stress and anxiety. Lawyers can help you compile your bills and other costs and estimate a fair amount of damage compensation.
When You Need a Brooklyn Childhood Injury Lawyer, Contact Us Right Away
At Jacoby & Meyers LLP, we stand ready to help you in all these ways, in an accessible local office right here in Brooklyn. We fight for justice for all of our clients. Contact us today at 1-877-488-1707 or start a live chat with us for your free first consultation.
8701 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
“The team and Jocoby & Meyers are excellent. They make sure the client is well taken care of. They are great with communication and they take their time to make sure the client is satisfied. Will definitely recommend.”
Review by: Danielle H.
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