Accidents and injuries, in general, are terrible and disruptive. But when an accident involves children, the situation is even worse. Many accidents can do much more harm to children and their little bodies than adults might suffer. There is also a greater chance of a child not surviving their injuries.
When your child suffers serious injuries or dies in a preventable accident, you must be the one to seek justice for them. To speak with a compassionate Orlando child injury lawyer, contact Michael T. Gibson, PA, today. The sooner you discuss your child’s injuries with an attorney, the sooner you can receive compensation to pay for medical care and other damages.
Our firm represents injured victims of all ages – from children to seniors in nursing homes. We have obtained many six and seven-figure settlements and verdicts for our clients and their families, and we will seek justice for your child’s injuries.
Reach out today for a no-cost consultation about a possible case. The firm of Michael T. Gibson, P.A. is ready to help.
Whether children are in a car or walking to school, accidents involving children have increased. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 1,093 traffic fatalities involved children 14 years old or younger in a recent year. This was a three percent increase from the number of child traffic fatalities the previous year.
When it comes to pedestrian accidents, there were 177 that involved children in a year. Forty-eight children died in bicycle accidents in the same year.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A. knows how devastating any accident involving children can be for parents. We are here to help.
When drivers get behind the wheel of a car, it doesn’t stop them from being distracted or using terrible judgment. When you factor that in with the small nature of children, it explains why children are more at risk of suffering an injury in car accidents. Below, you will find the most common ways drivers use cars to harm children.
Drivers can hurt children when they fail to notice children as they’re backing up their car.
This is one of the most common accidents that can hurt children. Because children can often pop out of nowhere, drivers don’t always notice their presence until it’s too late.
Backover accidents mostly happen in driveways and parking lots. Drivers want to make sure that they are constantly checking their blind spots while driving, especially in residential areas where children live.
Another way that children are seriously hurt or killed by cars is while walking. Whether children are walking in the neighborhood or riding on their bikes, they can suffer serious injuries if a car hits them.
Children who live in urban areas are more prone to getting hurt by drivers while walking. Every pedestrian has the right of way when crossing an intersection. But so many drivers ignore that right of way and continue to drive.
This leads to hitting children who are in the process of crossing the street. Pedestrian accidents are more likely to happen when children walk home from bus stops or walk unattended.
Children riding on bikes are also in a vulnerable position. Children on bikes are the most vulnerable people in bicycle accidents. Children who ride their bikes unattended can lose their balance and fall while a car is moving.
This leaves little time for the driver to react before hitting the child. Even though it’s hard to imagine missing a child on a bike, many drivers fail to notice their presence because of their size. It’s also possible to miss their presence when distracted or under the influence while driving.
School bus accidents
Children can also become injured in car accidents when a driver hits a school bus. Even though school bus accidents are rare, they can be deadly when they do happen. The driver can hit the school bus so hard that it causes the bus to drive off the highway. The fact that the school bus lacks seat belts or other restraints can lead to serious injuries to children. Nothing stops children from bouncing up and down on the bus and being ejected.
Damage from car accidents
When children get hit by cars, their bodies suffer greater damage than adult victims. From the time of birth until their teenage years, children’s bodies and brains are still developing.
Compared to adult bones, children’s bones are still flexible and soft. Unlike fracturing and breaking into two pieces, children’s bones will bend and buckle from the car’s impact.
Types of Fractures
After a car accident, children can sustain:
Buckle fractures. This fracture happens when one side of a child’s bone buckles on one side but does not break.
Greenstick fractures. This fracture happens when the child’s bone cracks after bending. Because of their flexible nature, children’s bones will bend like a green stick instead of fracturing.
Growth plate fractures. This fracture happens when one of the child’s bones in the growing process breaks.
Stress fractures. This fracture happens when the child’s bone experiences a fine, small break.
Traumatic brain injuries
Children are also more likely to suffer from traumatic brain injuries after car accidents. The fragile nature of their bones can make it easier for children to suffer from skull fractures. They can also experience serious injuries like concussions. Brain injuries can cause serious issues because a child’s brain is still developing. Trauma can fundamentally change a child’s brain functioning the rest of their lives.
One of the most common injuries children suffer from in car accidents is abdominal injuries.
In a car accident, children are likely to experience chest injuries. These injuries can become worse if the child wears a seat belt incorrectly. Children’s abdominal walls are also relatively thin and leave little protection for other developing organs.
Seeking justice for your child
Knowing that your child has suffered an injury in a car accident is devastating. You can experience different emotions just thinking about how someone’s reckless actions have seriously hurt your child.
As the parent or guardian, you are the legal advocate for your child. Fighting for your child’s legal rights and assisting with their injuries can be overwhelming. When you want to file a claim on behalf of your child, there are several things you need to keep in mind.
Guardian ad Litem
As the parent of your child, you have natural guardianship of your child. With natural guardianship, you have the right to file a claim for your child and negotiate on their behalf. Only in certain circumstances will the courts intervene and limit your guardianship rights. This is where the guardian ad litem comes into play.
The guardian ad litem is the neutral party in a personal injury claim who offers a second opinion to the court about what is in the child’s best interests. It is often someone other than the guardian or parent of the child who has no personal stake in the accident.
Circumstances that require a guardian ad litem
The courts will usually appoint a guardian ad litem:
When your child suffers a serious injury
When the settlement value exceeds $15,000
When you are legally incapacitated
When there is a conflict of interest between you and your child or their legal guardian
Statute of Limitations
When you file a claim for a child, it will significantly alter the deadline to file. An average car accident claim will have a statute of limitations of four years from the date of the accident. With children, however, the deadline can be extended to seven years or until the legal guardian settles the claim. In addition to the deadline extension, the statute of limitations begins running when the injured child becomes an adult.
Contacting an Orlando Child Injury Lawyer
When you file a child injury claim, you want to do the best for your child and exercise their legal rights. But the process can be confusing for you.
It can also be overwhelming to balance the legal process with your everyday life. You still need to take care of your child and keep up with the different deadlines.
An Orlando child injury lawyer from Michael T. Gibson, P.A. can help you with the legal details of your case. We can take control of the process while you continue to care for your family. Here is a glimpse into how we might resolve your child’s injury claim.
Write demand letters on your behalf
The other driver’s insurance company will be responsible for your child’s compensation. You must share your demands with the insurance company through a demand letter during your child injury claim.
The demand letter is your chance to inform the insurance company that you plan to take legal action. Your demand letter will state the events of the accident and your child’s legal rights to compensation.
The insurance company can respond in one of two ways. They can try to settle with you out of court or deny and allow the case to go to trial.
Offering a settlement
If the insurance company offers a settlement, it is not always favorable. Settling out of court is preferable, but not if the offer is much less than you deserve.
Because your child’s injuries can cause a financial strain on your household, the insurance adjusters are expecting you to take the first offer that comes your way. But you want to avoid taking any offer the insurance company gives you. Whatever they offer, you are not near the amount you can win in your settlement.
Representing you during mediation
If you and the insurance agents cannot come to an agreed settlement amount, you will have the chance to use mediation. With mediation, a neutral mediator will step in and help the two of you reach a solution. The claim will go to court if you cannot reach an agreement.
Steps that Increase Your Chances of a Settlement
Even though going to court is an option, you want to resolve your claim as soon as possible. Settling will take you one step closer to receiving the compensation you need. There are factors that your Orlando child injury lawyer can use to increase your chances of settling. Some of these factors include:
Reviewing the evidence
The stronger your evidence is, the greater your chances of settling out of court. If you have evidence that can prove the driver’s negligence towards your child, insurance agents will not take the chance of going to court and losing. Gathering the best evidence will strengthen your claim and give your claim validity.
An experienced Orlando child injury lawyer at Michael T. Gibson, P.A. can also assess the nature of your child’s injuries.
If your child’s injuries fall into the following categories, your child likely needs more compensation:
Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
When your child’s injuries are this severe, they will require more compensation to cover their lifelong expenses.
Meet the statute of limitations
Your Orlando child injury lawyer can also ensure that your claim gets filed within the statute of limitations. Failing to meet the statute of limitations is one of the most common reasons insurance agents use to throw your child’s case out. You can avoid this when your lawyers can remain organized and keep up with all necessary deadlines.
A lawyer can advise you on the best time to file your child injury claim. It may not be in your child’s best interest to file immediately. Your lawyer can help guide you on the best possible time to file your claim and start the process.
Are You in Need of Legal Assistance?
When your child has suffered a severe injury or died in an accident, that person must be held liable to the fullest extent. Your child will suffer serious physical and psychological damage because of another driver’s recklessness. Your child deserves the best possible outcome for their case.
At Michael T. Gibson, P.A., our Orlando child injury lawyers are passionate about fighting for our child clients. We have the right combination of aggression and compassion to fight for our clients against the insurance companies. Contact us at (407) 490-1271 for your free consultation.
You deserve compensation for the injuries your child suffered in any type of accident. Whether the incident was drowning, a motor vehicle crash, a slip and fall, or any other incident, your child’s rights should be protected at all costs. An Orlando personal injury attorney can help you determine the best course of action for your unique situation.
“Very professional law firm. Everybody I had contact with, especially Cyd Alvarado and Michael T Gibson were helpful and always ready for anything I needed about my case. Very happy with the results obtained.” -Jorge M. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney 2420 S. Lakemont Avenue Suite 150 Orlando, FL 32814 Phone: 407-422-4529
Frequently Asked Questions
Child Injury FAQ
When a negligent driver injures a child, it disrupts a family’s life in so many ways. In a vehicle crash, a child’s vulnerable body usually sustains more damage than the adult occupants. Cars cause devastating injuries when they strike child pedestrians as they walk home from school. Even a small vehicle’s impact has the power to cause catastrophic injuries.
As a parent, you do everything you can to keep your children safe, but often the circumstances are outside of your control. When the worst happens, you stay strong for your child, despite your anxiety. You provide comfort, support, and in-home medical care. You put your child first, and provide the help they need to heal.
Sadly, negligent drivers injure children far too frequently. If your child is currently struggling with accident-related injuries, you should consult with a legal professional as soon as possible. Even if your child hasn’t been involved in an accident, it’s important to know and understand basic accident injury facts. We created our Orlando child injury FAQ to share essential information and help you learn more about your legal options.
They have determined the following facts about auto accidents involving children.
Each day, 150 children from infants to age 19 require emergency treatment for crash-related injuries.
In the age group five to 19 years, more children die from auto accidents than from any other cause.
Nationally, 3,754 children sustained fatal injuries in car crashes during 2018.
When an airbag deploys after a crash, they seriously or fatally injure young children riding in the front seat.
The center rear seat is the safest place for a child to ride.
The NHTSAFatality Injury and Reporting System Tool (FIRST) provides recent accident statistics. An inquiry shows that 796 children aged 0 to 18 sustained fatal injuries in Florida accidents during one recent year.
Backover accidents occur when a driver strikes a person (often a child) while backing up their vehicle. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Child Safety Page lists backover accidents as a common cause of childhood vehicle-related injuries. It’s often a visibility issue, especially with a larger vehicle. To prevent these accidents, drivers should never assume that the area immediately behind their vehicle is clear. They can only determine if it’s safe to back up when they walk around the vehicle before engaging the ignition.
As children are naturally small in stature, they are the most frequent backover victims. When walking or using a cycle that rides low to the pavement, children often become invisible to backing drivers. Accidents and injuries occur when a driver fails to take proper precautions.
Over the period reviewed, the NHTSA documented 124 school-transportation related fatalities per year.
261 of the fatally injured victims were children.
61 of the injured children were school bus passengers.
100 of the fatally injured victims were occupants of other vehicles.
97 of the victims were pedestrians, five were pedalcyclists, and one was designated a non-occupant.
Child pedestrians sustained fatal accident-related injuries most frequently during the hours of 7 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 3:59 p.m.
Of the school-age pedestrians fatally injured in school-transportation related accidents, 49 percent were ages 5 to 10.
When chosen correctly and properly installed, car safety seats and booster seats provide protection that helps keep children safe. Seat belts help save older children from serious injuries, as well. The NHTSA’s most recentCrash-Stats report provides annual estimates of lives saved based on safety restraint use during one recent year.
Car seats saved the lives of 325 children under age four.
Seatbelts saved 14,955 people age 5 and above.
Frontal airbags saved 2,790 people age 13 and above.
Safety seats saved eight children’s lives.
Seatbelts saved 1,099 lives of people ages five and older.
Frontal airbags saved 200 lives of people 13 years old and above.
The Florida Safety Belt Law is included in Florida’s Motor Vehicle codes. Chapter 316.613 provisions require drivers to secure children under age five in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device. Vehicle occupants age six to 18 must wear a seatbelt. Drivers to age 18 and 18-year-olds riding in the front passenger seat must also use a seatbelt.
Florida’s restraint laws include exceptions for commercial trucks, school buses, tractors, and other vehicles. The law also includes safety seat waivers for children with physician-verified medical conditions and non-use during emergency medical transport. When an owner registers a vehicle to which the restraint laws apply, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles notifies them of the appropriate statutes and requirements.
When someone causes an accident that injures your child, you have a right to make a liability claim.
Your right is based on traditional negligence guidelines:
The other driver had a duty to drive safely.
He or she breached that duty and caused an accident.
His or her actions injured your child.
Your child’s damages relate directly to the driver’s actions.
As Florida is a no-fault state, your child’s injuries must meet certain thresholds before you have a right to make a liability claim.
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance law, each vehicle owner must have Personal Injury Protection coverage on their auto policy. When your child sustains an injury in an auto accident, you must submit the medical bills to your own insurer.
You have the right to file a claim against a negligent party only when your child’s injury meets one of these conditions.
Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
The short answer is to hire a child injury accident lawyer, who can take care of all of the complexities for you.
More specifically, When two vehicles crash, each driver has a duty to report the accident to their own insurer. Both insurance company claim departments investigate the accident to determine who is at fault. If your child’s injuries are serious or catastrophic, the other carrier should easily recognize that your child has met a PIP injury threshold. It’s still up to you to present your claim to the other carrier for consideration.
It should be a simple process, but it’s often complicated. Negligent driver’s insurers often require that you prove liability against their policyholder. That’s difficult to do if you don’t have access to the evidence that proves your case. In most situations, you need legal representation for the best chance of successfully negotiating your child’s injury claim. In some instances, a court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent your child’s legal and financial interests.
As parents, Florida grants you natural guardianship over your child. This gives you the legal right to negotiate and settle your child’s injury claim. Under certain circumstances, the court intervenes, limits your guardianship rights, and takes steps to protect your child’s legal and financial interests.
A judge usually appoints a guardian ad litem under one or more of these circumstances.
Your child has a serious injury
The settlement value exceeds $15,000.
You are legally incapacitated
A conflict of interest exists between you and your child or your child and his or her legal guardian
A guardian ad litem represents your child only until they resolve your child’s injury claim. Whether your child has a guardian or not, a judge must approve a settlement involving the above situations. A judge also approves settlements for cases that are the subject of a pending lawsuit.
The basic four-year time period becomes a bit more complicated when someone causes an auto accident that injures a child, and one or more of these circumstances apply.
The child doesn’t have a parent, legal guardian, or a guardian ad litem to represent his or her interests
A court determines that the legal guardian is incapacitated and can’t represent the child.
A conflict of interest exists between the child and his or her guardian.
Any of these circumstances tolls the statute of limitations for a maximum of seven years or until the child’s legal representative settles the claim. The statute of limitations also begins running once the injured child reaches adulthood age.
Definitely consult an Orlando child injury attorney to better understand your options and learn how best to protect your legal rights. When a child sustains a serious injury, they often require comprehensive care throughout their recovery period. As a parent, you perform these and many other tasks, often while continuing to earn a living.
Our Orlando child injury attorneys take care of the legal details while their clients take care of their families. They review evidence, analyze liability issues, and evaluate injuries. They ensure compliance with statutes of limitations and court directives. Attorneys intervene with insurance companies on their client’s behalf, and they lay the groundwork for productive settlement negotiations. If necessary, they use a lawsuit to protect their clients’ interests.
When you consult our Orlando child injury attorneys, your initial appointment is complimentary. You spend time with a legal representative and share your story. You learn more about your options and get the information you need to determine your next move. Attorneys won’t pressure you to make a claim or file a lawsuit; they explain your options, and you decide what’s best for your injured child and your family.