Nothing is scarier than your child getting injured. As a parent, we do our best to protect our children. But not everything is under our control – especially when our children are in the care of others at schools, daycares, extracurricular activities, or summer camps across California.
Just as an example, millions of children across the country attend at least one of the 14,000 summer camps in the U.S. 60% of these camps are sleepaway or overnight camps. One study found that 1 out of 1000 campers gets injured.
Parents put a lot of trust into childcare facilities and their staff. So when these facilities skimp on maintenance, repairs, staff, or employee training, that can put your children at risk. This type of negligence falls below the legal standard of care that child caretakers must provide.
Child injuries can happen for a variety of reasons:
- Another child from school, camp, or an extracurricular activity assaults your child
- Your child gets injured doing a specialized activity, such as camping or zip-lining
- Your child’s caretaker exposes them to an allergen such as nuts, gluten, or dairy
- Your child gets hurt at a care facility by falling on a staircase that needed repairs
- Your child gets injured in a bus or car accident while being driven by someone else
After an injury, you want to support your child for their best chance at a full recovery. But the more severe the injury, the more that might cost. Insurance might not cover all of your medical bills. You or your co-parent may have to take time off of work to take your child to their doctor’s appointments. Your child’s injuries may have lifelong effects on their daily life.
Fortunately, the law can help. If your child’s injury was caused by someone else, you may be able to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions – especially if you can show that their actions were negligent, reckless, intentional, or malicious.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your child, you get them the compensation they deserve to recover and support themselves for the future. There are certain steps you can take to set up your child’s case for the best chance at success.
3 Steps to Take After a Child Injury
Under California law, children get until 2 years after their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit for any injuries they suffered as a minor. You must meet this statute of limitations deadline – otherwise, you could lose the chance to file a legal claim forever.
Two years might seem like a long time, but the sooner you file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of your child, the better. You can file a lawsuit while your child is still a minor.
As soon as you realize that a lawsuit might be appropriate, you should contact a California personal injury lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case. In the meantime, you should also take the following 3 steps to help set up your case for the best possible success.
1. Get Medical Treatment for Your Child ASAP
When it comes to child injury cases, the most important thing is your child’s health. The second most important thing is evidence. When you take your child to get medical care after an injury, you get them started on their recovery and you start to establish a trail of evidence.
The sooner you talk to a doctor after your child’s injury, the more convincingly you can tie your child’s injuries to the incident that caused them. Not only that, but you’ll record your child’s injuries when they are likely to be the most severe immediately after the incident. If you wait even a week or longer after the injury, that could weaken your case significantly.
Not only does timely medical care strengthen your legal case, it also helps uncover any latent injuries that your child may be suffering from. Latent injuries may not be obvious right away, and yet they can do some of the most damage long-term. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) may go unnoticed unless you get your child checked.
Keep all of your child’s medical records as part of evidence. Document every expense, including incidental expenses like the cost of transportation to take your child to their doctor’s appointments or any work shifts you lose because of your role as caregiver.
2. Report the Injury to the Proper Authorities
When a minor gets seriously injured, you may have to report the incident to the relevant authorities – that could be your child’s school administration or even a police report.
An official report filed either at the scene of the incident or shortly after could also be used as evidence when you file a legal claim. Make sure to make copies of official reports for yourself.
3. Gather Evidence and Keep Receipts
It’s critical to get an accurate story of how your child got injured as soon after the incident as possible. Even if your child doesn’t want to talk about the details, it’s important to establish a safe space where they can tell the truth about what happened. You should record or write down their statement because the longer time passes, the less clear their memory will be.
Other types of evidence are also the strongest when they’re fresh, such as photos or videos of the scene before any circumstances change. In the case of bad actors, you want to gather as much evidence as you can before the people responsible try to cover up their negligence.
It’s important to get photographs or videos of:
- Your child’s injuries immediately after the incident and as they heal
- The location of the incident and any dangerous conditions there
- Any damaged property or other evidence like torn or bloodied clothing
Make sure to keep any physical evidence in the same condition as it was immediately after the incident – for example, your child’s helmet or bicycle after a biking accident.
An experienced California child injury lawyer can help gather the evidence you need for a successful case. Any personal injury settlement should cover your child’s full expenses related to their injury – even if that means supporting them years or decades into the future. The more severe your child’s injuries, the more support they should receive.
Contact us now for a free consultation with the lawyers at Sepulveda Sanchez Law.