If a child dies in the United States it is most likely because of an accident that caused a fatal injury. An unintentional injury in an accident is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years old, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For every child who dies in an accident, 25 are hospitalized with accidental injuries, 925 are treated in emergency rooms and many more are treated in doctors’ offices, according to the CDC. Car crashes, falls, fires, suffocation, drowning, and poisoning are some of the most common causes of injuries to children in Charleston.
South Carolina law protects children from harm caused by other people. Adults have a legal as well as a moral obligation to look out for the welfare and safety of children. If your child has been seriously injured in an accident that happened because of someone else’s negligence, your family may be able to claim compensation for your child’s medical care and other expenses.
Our Charleston child injury lawyers cannot change what has happened to your child. But we can help you demand all the compensation that the law says you and your family deserve.
Joye Law Firm is proud to celebrate 50 years of providing trusted legal representation to clients in Charleston and across South Carolina. Our compassionate Charleston injury attorneys focus on using our extensive legal experience to make a positive impact in the lives of people we represent and the communities we serve. Our attorneys have received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest rating for legal skills and ethics conferred by the respected legal rating directory. Phone or fill out our online form to set up a free consultation about your case.
Common Childhood Injuries in Accidents
There are numerous kinds of serious injuries a child may suffer in an accident, including:
- Broken bones (fractures) — Bones break from sudden impacts, such as a fall, a bicycle crash or a car accident. Children are most likely to break their arms because it is natural to throw your hands out to try to break a fall. In most cases, children’s bones heal well in a cast. However, if the bone breaks at the end, this may damage the growth plate, which regulates future growth. If this part of the bone does not heal properly after the fracture, the bone may grow at an angle or slower than the other bones in the body. Fractures that injure the growth plate may require surgery to minimize the risk of future growth problems.
- Head Injury — Playing sports is a rite of passage for many children in South Carolina. American children suffer 1 million to 2 million sports and recreation-related head injuries each year, according to WebMD. For children under 14, the top causes are bicycling, football, baseball, basketball, and skateboards or scooters. A blow to the head requires observation. A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI), which typically resolves well with rest but leaves the individual susceptible to additional concussions and cumulative injury. A more severe TBI can cause ongoing cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, seizures, and other symptoms.
- Burns — Younger children are more likely to be burned by hot liquids or steam, such as from bath water or a pot pulled off of a stove. Older children are more likely to be burned by playing with fire such as matches, firecrackers, a lighter, or a fire an adult has left unattended. Burns are very painful, and second- and third-degree burns destroy skin, muscle and other soft tissue. Serious burns require reconstructive surgery and leave psychological as well as physical scars.
- Drowning / Suffocation — Choking, entrapment (such as in an abandoned refrigerator), and drowning or near-drowning deprive the brain of oxygen, which causes loss of brain cells. Most infant drownings occur in bathtubs and buckets. Toddlers between 1 and 4 years old most commonly drown in swimming pools. Swimming pools, decorative ponds and other water features are considered attractive nuisances because they draw children’s attention, and having a water feature confers extra responsibility on the homeowner. If a child drowns in a neighbor’s pool or a hotel pool in Charleston because the pool is not properly fenced or secured, the pool owner may be legally liable for the accident. Premises liability accidents require a careful examination of the contributing factors by experienced Charleston personal injury lawyers.
- Poisoning — About 1.1 million children younger than 6 years old swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance each year, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. Most children who swallow poison are not permanently harmed if they receive immediate treatment, but about two die from poisoning every day, the CDC says. Children’s caregivers must properly secure the numerous household items that are toxic to ensure they do not fall into the hands of active, curious children.
- Dog bites — Children are vulnerable to dog attacks because they are more likely to be curious about a dog and unaware of the potential danger. Young children are less likely to be able to escape or fend off an attacking dog. Dog bites can cause puncture wounds or lacerations. Large dogs can crush bones with their jaws, particularly the bones of a child’s hands or feet. Typically, an attacking dog bites repeatedly, and dogs claw and knock down their victims, potentially causing head injuries, fractures, sprained back or spinal injuries.
Who is at Fault in a Charleston Child Injury Accident?
Children do not always have the understanding or capability to recognize the risk of injury or death, so they are entrusted to the supervision of adults. Any adult has a duty to assist a child who is in recognizable danger, regardless of being formally assigned responsibility for the child.
The legal concept of in loco parentis (“in the place of a parent”) protects children when we, as their parents, entrust our children’s care to others. The Latin phrase refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization such as a schoolteacher or daycare provider to perform some of the functions or responsibilities of a parent.
When a child has been injured while under adult supervision by others, South Carolina law provides the child’s parents the right to hold accountable the individuals who failed to uphold their duty to ensure the child’s safety, if the injury was due to an adult’s carelessness or disregard for safety. The concept of in loco parentis is applied to the relationship between schools and schoolteachers and their students.
However, other adults have a legal responsibility for minor-age children and can be held liable for any carelessness, negligence or recklessness that cause a youngster to be harmed.
This may include:
- Day care workers
- Day care centers
- Youth organizations
- Camp counselors
- Civic groups
- Playground and park operators.
Toy manufacturers and makers of other child products have a legal duty to ensure the products they sell are safe when used as intended, and to advise consumers of any potential hazards the product poses. Manufacturers, distributors and sellers of defective products in South Carolina are held strictly liable for damages and injuries caused by a product’s defect.
Faulty children’s products, including toys, toy chests, cribs, car seats, strollers, unsafe furniture, playground equipment, and many more children’s items are frequently the subject of product liability lawsuits because of the injuries and deaths they cause.
Pursuing a Child Accident Legal Claim
An adult and/or an organization in Charleston may be held liable for injuries a child has suffered while under their supervision if evidence shows that the adult’s carelessness, negligence or recklessness led to the injury. Such a lawsuit would actually be two separate claims: one on behalf of the injured child and one by the parent(s) financially responsible for the child.
Each claim would seek compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost income for a parent who has left work to care for their injured child
- Future income losses due to a child’s permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress.
In a wrongful death claim, additional compensation for funeral and burial costs would be sought, as well.
Serious injuries to a child often require us to look to the future. A child who has been disabled or disfigured will suffer lasting harm and costs, such as for assistive devices, special education requirements, or medical procedures, some of which may be delayed for the child to grow and/or mature.
A seriously injured or disfigured child will miss out on the carefree childhood many children enjoy and may continue to face limitations as a youth or adult. A serious injury may preclude participation in organized sports and other recreation, limit higher education and employment choices, and provide fewer opportunities for dating, marriage and having a family.
The injured child’s loss of enjoyment of life should be taken into account compensation for pain, suffering and emotional distress. The parents’ distress demands compensation, as well.
Contact Our Charleston, SC, Childhood Personal Injury Law Firm
If your child has been seriously injured in an accident in Charleston while under another adult’s supervision, you and your child may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses and other costs and losses. Since 1968, the South Carolina personal injury lawyers of Joye Law Firm have helped accident victims like you and your family in Charleston, North Charleston, and across South Carolina.
Call Joye Law Firm or fill out our online form today for a free legal consultation about your injured child’s future.