An injured child is a parent’s worst nightmare. Dog bites, playground injuries, defective car seats, and other accidents common among young people can all result in substantial medical costs in addition to pain and suffering and emotional trauma. To make things even more complicated, it can take years to determine whether a child’s injury has properly healed, and some injuries, such as exposure to lead paint, may not become apparent until years after the accident.
Special compensation for child victims
With any personal injury case, a plaintiff can claim damages such as medical costs, treatment fees (prescription medication, rehabilitative treatments such as physical therapy), and other costs that are the direct result of the accident. With children, two additional types of damages may apply:
- Nominal damages: Suffering a serious and painful injury can traumatize a child for a long time afterward. Nominal damages can provide additional compensation to help them recover.
- Potential income: If your child’s injuries cause permanent disability, then they will not be able to apply for certain careers once they turn 18. This lost potential income can be included in your claim.
Statute of limitations for child personal injury claims
For reasons like these, the law permits a different statute of limitations when injuries to children are involved. Minors are also incapable of taking legal action on their own behalf, so in states like New York, the statute of limitations will usually not start until the child turns 18. For example, if your 16-year-old son is struck by a negligent motorist while walking home from school, then NY Civil Practice Law and Rules Section 208 specifies that he will typically have five years to file a personal injury suit (the state three-year limitations plus the two years until he turns 18).
When a personal injury claim involves medical malpractice, Section 208 allows for a maximum of 10 years. For example, if your daughter suffers a birth injury, then you and/or her other parent must commence an action on her behalf before she turns ten.
In most instances, parents take legal action on their child’s behalf immediately after the accident, in order to obtain compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, and other damages that could apply if the child is permanently disabled. Some injuries, like those resulting from exposure to lead paint or another toxic substance, could take years to appear, and the extended statute of limitations for children helps ensure that affected children can seek the compensation they deserve.
Protecting the rights of an injured child, at the time of an accident and even years afterward, is emotionally draining. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY accident and personal injury lawyer with over 35 years of experience. He will help you preserve your child’s right to compensation and even determine responsibility for an invisible injury that took place years before so that your child gets what they need to improve their quality of life. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment with Mr. Lutzky. He offers free initial in-person consultations as well as home and hospital visits in the case of serious injury.