Santa Barbara Child Injury Attorneys
While any accident and resulting injury is upsetting, when a child is injured the situation is tragic. In 2008, 9.2 million children visited an emergency department in the United States. On average, over 12,000 children die annually from unintentional injury.
Serious injuries can have long-term consequences that impact the rest of a child's life. Injuries like cognitive impairments, physical disabilities, and emotional harm end up costing money, time, and life energy. A fatal injury, though, is far worse. While nothing can reverse time and take back an accident, civil action against those responsible can help offset your expenses and let you focus on moving forward.
You don't have to face this trauma alone. We are here to listen and hold the responsible parties liable, and do everything we can to get just compensation for your family. After any child injury, call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022.
- Auto accidents: Vehicle accidents are the number one avoidable cause of death for children over the age of 1. Children are more vulnerable to injuries in a car crash, which is why special child seats and restraints must be used to keep them as safe as possible.
- Falls: Slipping and falling is one of the most common accidents for all people, and children are particularly susceptible. Minor falls may result in nothing more than a bruise. Serious falls, however, can be extremely dangerous, especially if a child hits his or her head.
- Dog attacks: Due to their smaller size, children are vulnerable targets for dogs and other large animals. Their heads are within easy reach of a dog’s jaws. Serious injuries can occur from dog bites, and pet owners are held liable for the actions of their dogs.
- Drowning: The attraction of a swimming pool is a deadly one. Pools must have fences around them to keep kids from wandering inside, and these fences must be of proper height, have a locking gate, and not have objects near them that a child could climb.
- Playground injuries: Fortunately, most playgrounds are designed to keep children safe, but serious injuries can still occur. Falls on playground equipment can lead to broken bones and head, neck, or back injuries.
Although negligence laws don't really change with regard to children, kids are not always expected to act as an adult should. In accidents involving adults, we often look at the victim and consider how he or she acted to determine whether that behavior was reasonable.
Children do not know all of the dangers that adults recognize, which means they often act in unreasonable ways - therefore, sole liability rests on the supervising adult.
An adult is not expected to climb over a fence, fall into a swimming pool, or pull a dog's tail. Children, on the other hand, are likely to do those very things and these actions can have very serious consequences. Parents and supervising adults must provide care for children; failing to do so makes a responsible adult liable for any accident that occurs.
If your child is injured at school or daycare, you may dismiss it as a simple accident, attributing the injury to roughhousing or carelessness at recess. In more serious cases, parents may believe that they cannot bring legal action against a public school. While public schools are protected from lawsuits by “Governmental Immunity,” the California Government Claim Act outlines the processes by which a parent can make a claim against a school in the cases of personal injury, property damage, and wrongful deaths, including those caused by negligence. But first you must determine whether or not the injury was intentional or a result of negligence.
Intentional injuries are generally due to bullying by another student, but it can also involve abuse from a school employee. In both cases, parents can take legal action against the offending party. Parents of child who bully can be held liable for their child actions, especially if they make no effort to stop the behavior. If you sue a school employee for abuse, the school will also be liable for hiring the individual or allowing the abuse to occur.
In contrast, negligence can constitute an “accident,” such as a slip-and-fall incident, caused because a lack of supervision. To pursue a case against the school, the court must determine that the school demonstrated gross negligence. Gross negligence occurs when an individual or institution lacks any care or commits an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct. Even in the case of a natural disaster like an earthquake or fire, a school may be liable for negligence if they do not have a proper emergency plan in place. This also applies to school bus accidents, because the bus is considered an extension of the school and subject to the same safety standards.
Intentional injuries and negligence can overlap. If a school employee is aware that a child is being bullied, but does not report it, the school would be liable for creating an unsafe environment for the child. When reviewing your case, a child injury attorney can help you determine who is at fault and how to proceed with your claim.
Just like school employees, daycare attendants are required to ensure the safety of all children in their care. Injuries sustained at a daycare are subject to the same standards of negligence and abuse as schools but are not protected by Government Claim Act, unless it is a public daycare. Most daycares are private, but if your child is injured at a government owned daycare center, you may file a government claim just as you would against a school.
Unlike schools, all daycares are subject to California Child Day Care Act, which states that child daycare centers must comply with specific regulations, including, but not limited to:
- Daycares must provide a positive influence on emotional, cognitive, and educational development
- Staff members must have received certification in pediatric first aid
- Staff members must not have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor
- Staff members must be vaccinated against influenza, pertussis, and measles
- Numbers for emergency services must be posted next to all phones
- All centers must have a fully stocked first aid kit for emergencies
- Hazardous and poisonous materials must be locked away and out of reach of children
- Child-to-Staff ratios based on child age
California day cares must apply for a license and follow all regulations to maintain it. These standards and rules are designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all children. However, there are still instances where day care centers fall well below the accepted standards for safety. In 2019 alone, Californian parents have sued day care centers across the state for instances of physical abuse, neglect, and even illegally drugging children to help them sleep.
Daycares may try to absolve themselves of legal action by asking parents to sign a liability waver, but this can be stricken down in court if the caretakers demonstrated sufficient levels of negligence or if there is a clear sign of abuse or neglect.
Abuse and neglect can take many forms in a daycare, including:
- Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
- Denying a child food, water, or basic comforts (sleep, bathrooms, etc.)
- Physically restraining a child
- Locking a child in a separate room
- Unsanitary facilities
As a parent, it is imperative that you regularly check in with your child in regard to both their mental and physical well-being. Children may not always have the adequate language to explain abuse or if they are being neglected by a caretaker. Before placing your child in day care, make sure to visit and inspect the premises yourself to ensure it is up to code. If you suspect your child is being abused or neglected, you should speak to a child injury attorney to determine if you have a case or not.
Child injuries are difficult for everyone - financially, mentally, and emotionally. Nothing can change what happened, but you can take action to help your family and punish those responsible. Call a Santa Barbara personal injury attorney at NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022 to discuss your options.
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