Philadelphia Child Injury Lawyer
The number of children injured or killed in motor vehicle accidents has steadily decreased in recent years, but car crashes remain a leading cause of accidental death for infants, children, and teens in Philadelphia and across the U.S. Traffic accidents threaten children’s lives while they drive and ride in motor vehicles, and while they bike, take a bus, or even just cross the street.
If your child suffered severe injuries or died tragically in a motor vehicle accident in Philadelphia caused by someone else’s reckless or careless actions, then you likely have legal rights to receive substantial compensation for your child’s injuries and your family’s losses. Contact the skilled Philadelphia child injury lawyers at The Levin Firm today for a free case consultation.
Our Law Practice
Founded in 2005, The Levin Firm represents Philadelphia residents, workers, and visitors who suffer injuries because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentional misconduct. One of the most important areas of our practice involves advocating for injured children and their families. No parent should ever live through the horror of having a child get badly hurt in a preventable accident.
We work to make sure those children and their parents receive the compensation they need and deserve to put their lives back on track.
Click here to read what our past clients have to say about our firm’s commitment to them and to pursuing justice and fair compensation on their behalf.
Dangers to Young Children in Car Accidents
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 600 children under the age of 12 die each year as a result of motor vehicle-related accidents, and around 116,000 suffer injuries. Children make up around 3 percent of the fatalities in motor vehicle accidents nationally every year. Around 16 percent of child fatalities are the result of an alcohol impaired driver.
Seat belts and car seats serve a critical role in keeping children safe in motor vehicle crashes. 35 percent of the children killed in car accidents are not buckled-in at the time of the collision. Many more who suffer severe or fatal injuries were wearing belts or restraints, but using them incorrectly, which reduces effectiveness. Always make sure your children sit in seats and wear restraints that are appropriate for their height and weight. Click on the “Prevention” tab on the linked page above for more information.
Children also face risks when walking across or along Philadelphia streets. According to the CDC, pedestrian accidents account for around 20 percent of the traffic-related deaths of children under the age of 15. Many of these accidents occur in school-related situations, such as when drivers speed through school zones or fail to stop for school buses.
Other places where the risk of child pedestrian accidents runs high include areas around parks and playgrounds, neighborhoods where children may run out into the roadway while playing, and non-intersection areas on urban streets. Studies indicate that even though parents teach small children to look for traffic, children under the age of 10 have difficulty gauging when it is safe to cross, and need adult supervision to stay safe from harm.
If your young child suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident, as a passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian, contact The Levin Firm today for a free consultation.
School Bus Dangers
There are almost half a million school buses in service across the nation, providing transportation to and from school each day for around 25 million elementary and secondary-aged children. School bus-related crashes kill more than 100 people a year in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council.
Victims of these accidents include bus drivers and passengers, occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. While the majority of these deaths involve occupants of other vehicles, bus passengers account for around 5 percent of the fatalities in accidents involving school buses and around 36 percent of the injuries.
A particularly hazardous situation for children who ride the school bus is the presence of other cars when the child is getting on or off the bus. In Springfield Township, a seven-year-old girl was critically injured when she was struck by a car while getting off the bus. The child’s sister, who was also getting off the bus at that time, stated that the bus had come to a stop and the driver had engaged the flashing lights before the two girls stepped off the bus and attempted to cross the street. It was then that a driver of a black Honda failed to stop for the bus and struck the child. The bus was filled with children at the time of the accident.
There is no excuse for drivers who put children at risk around school buses. Contact the compassionate team of lawyers at The Levin Firm today if your child suffered injuries in a Philadelphia school bus-related accident.
Teen Driver Dangers
Motor vehicle accidents are also a major cause of death for people aged 15-20. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Research Institute, crashes result in the deaths of around 1,800 teen drivers each year nationally. Vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and bicyclists also suffer severe and fatal injuries in car crashes involving teen drivers.
By Children’s Hospital’s estimation, some of the biggest challenges facing teen drivers include:
- Lack of scanning. Research shows that teen drivers often fail to anticipate roadway hazards, which means that they also fail to take such precautions against those hazards, such as by monitoring their speed or positioning their vehicle appropriately. Research suggests this inability to scan for and recognize dangers has more to do with teens’ relative lack of development of that higher order cognitive skill than it does to teens simply not paying attention.
- Speeding. Driving faster than the posted speed limit or too fast for the conditions of the road is a major cause of accidents for drivers of all ages. Not only does speeding reduce the amount of time a driver has to perceive and respond to a roadway hazard, it also increases the distance needed for the car to come to a safe stop once the brakes are applied, increases the severity of the collision, and decreases the effectiveness of crash protection features such as seat belts or airbags. Speeding for teen drivers is often not a result of intentional risk-taking, but another matter of inexperience. Teens simply do not have enough hours behind the wheel to have developed a sense of what constitutes a safe speed in varied driving conditions.
- Distraction. Driver distractions are also a hazard to drivers of all ages, but they are particularly dangerous for inexperienced teen drivers. Texting, browsing social media, and visiting with peer passengers constitute the most prevalent distraction risks for teen drivers. Studies show that having two or more peer passengers in the vehicle with a teen driver triples the risk of the driver getting into a fatal accident.
The three hazards above, according to Children’s Hospital, merit special attention because they account for three-quarters of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers. Teens also face significant risks from other hazards, such as alcohol or drug impairment, and nighttime driving.
If your child suffered injuries in an accident involving a teen driver, contact The Levin Firm right away to learn about your rights.
Keeping Your Child Safe From Motor Vehicle Accidents
One of the greatest frustrations of a parent is knowing you cannot keep your child completely safe from harm. Still, you can take steps to reduce the odds of your child getting injured in a car accident.
These steps include:
- When purchasing a car that your child will drive or ride-in, let safety ratings guide your buying decision. Even used vehicles come with significant safety features these days. Favor the vehicle you can afford that has the best overall safety features.
- Model good driving behavior when your child is in the car. Avoid distractions such as texting and other cell phone use. Remember that you are your child’s first teacher. Long years before children reach driving age, they watch how their parents handle themselves behind the wheel, and will mimic those behaviors to some extent when their time comes.
- Avoid taking long road trips at night, even if it means enduring your childrens’ back-seat fights and whining. Driving at night involves much higher accident risks than daytime driving, because of reduced visibility, driver fatigue, and drunk drivers.
- Set firm rules for your teen driver, including putting limits on the number of passengers your teen can transport, and times of day that remain off-limits until your teen has more driving experience.
- Do everything you can to make sure children sit in seats and wear restraints appropriate for their height and weight. Educate yourself about how seatbelts and car seats function. In Pennsylvania, all drivers and occupants under the age of 18 must wear properly-adjusted and fastened seat belts while in the car, and children under the age of 8 must be securely fastened in a child restraint system.
- Teach your child about pedestrian safety, including the benefits of wearing bright clothing that is visible to motorists; walking either on sidewalks or — if no sidewalk is available — on the far left edge of the roadway facing opposing traffic; crossing at a crosswalk or intersection while obeying traffic signals or ensuring that the roadway is clear before crossing non-intersected areas; avoiding distractions such as music or cell phone use that distracts from situational awareness; and using care when walking past private driveways and parking lots to avoid being struck by a car as it is backing up.
What to Do if Your Child Gets Injured
Parents whose child suffers injuries in a motor vehicle accident (or any other kind of accident) endure extreme stress and emotional upset. Making clear decisions that protect their child’s, and their own, legal rights can feel difficult during that traumatic time.
Following the steps below can help guide parents in those decisions so that they safeguard their ability to seek compensation for the harm inflicted on their child.
- Seek immediate and appropriate medical care. It probably goes without saying, but it is worth saying anyway, that the single most important thing to do after a child suffers an injury in a motor vehicle accident is to get medical care right away. Go to the emergency room if necessary, and in all events visit your child’s regular doctor or an urgent care clinic within 24 hours. Some car accident injuries do not show symptoms immediately, and can be especially difficult to spot in children without medical attention. Going to the doctor also ensures that your child’s medical records reflect the harm done by the accident, which might prove important in any later legal action.
- Preserve evidence. If your child suffered injuries in an accident you witnessed, take photographs or video of the accident scene if you can do so safely. These images can provide critical evidence of how the accident happened. Afterward, keep all documents you receive relating in any way to your child’s accident or injury. Also hold on to any physical evidence, such as the clothing your child was wearing, a car seat your child rode in, or even the vehicle that crashed. All of these may also provide crucial evidence.
- Contact a Philadelphia child injury lawyer. The sooner speak with an attorney, the better your chances of obtaining the compensation you and your child need and deserve to help pay for medical and other expenses, and your child’s pain and suffering. An attorney can also help to ensure that you do not make mistakes that could cost you valuable legal rights.
Philadelphia Child Injury FAQ
In a perfect world, everyone would make a reasonable effort to watch out for children around them and prevent them from suffering serious injury. Unfortunately, sometimes, not only do people ignore the needs of the children around them, they may commit acts of negligence that actively lead to a child’s injuries. If your child has suffered serious injuries due to another party’s negligence, you likely have a lot on your mind.
If you have questions about your child’s injuries and your right to a child injury claim, contact an experienced Philadelphia child injury attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about child injury claims in Philadelphia.
1. Does my child have the same right to file a personal injury claim that I would as an adult?
If your child suffers serious injuries due to the negligence of another party, your child would have the same right to compensation that an adult would have if they suffered injuries in an accident caused by another party. You, as the guardian of your child, could seek compensation on your child’s behalf. Working with a Philadelphia child injury attorney can give you a better understanding of what compensation your child may deserve as a result of their injuries.
2. When would I have grounds to file a Philadelphia child injury claim for an injury suffered by my child?
You could grounds to file a Philadelphia child injury claim when another party’s negligence causes injuries to your child.
To establish negligence and have grounds for a Philadelphia child injury claim, your attorney would first determine:
- Who bore a duty of care to your child at the time of the accident? In some cases, this might include a specific caregiver: someone responsible for your child at the time of the accident who failed to take care of your child or properly observe your child—leading to an accident with serious injuries. All drivers must exercise caution on the road to avoid collisions, including collisions with children playing by the road or children riding their bikes along the road.
- How did the party who bore a duty of care to your child violate that duty? For example, a distracted driver who failed to notice your child riding his bike in the road could violate his or her duty of care by becoming distracted while behind the wheel. A caregiver who allowed your child to wander off without noticing his absence could have violated the duty of care by not paying adequate attention to the child.
- How did that violation lead to your child’s injuries? If your child wandered away from a caregiver, but the caregiver found him or her very quickly and no injuries occurred, you would not have grounds for a Philadelphia child injury claim. On the other hand, if your child wandered away, fell into a swimming pool, and required resuscitation due to drowning, you may have grounds for a Philadelphia child injury claim against the caregiver, and potentially the owner of the swimming pool if they had failed to properly adequately secure its perimeter to avoid such incidents.
3. Can I file a child injury claim against a Philadelphia school system if my child suffers injury at school, on a field trip, or on the bus?
In some cases, you may have grounds for a Philadelphia child injury claim if your child suffered injuries at school or while attending a school-sponsored event, including riding the bus. The school and its employees bear a duty of care to your child when your child attends school, which means that they must take reasonable steps to help protect your child from suffering an injury.
If your child behaved in an appropriate manner, followed the rules, and did not engage in inappropriate activities, but suffered injuries due to the negligence of a caregiver, you may have grounds for a Philadelphia child injury claim.
It is often a difficult task to bring a Philadelphia child injury claim against a school district, so you should consider speaking with an attorney as soon after your child’s accident as possible to learn more about your legal rights and how to manage a Philadelphia child injury claim.
4. How much compensation could i expect if my child suffers an accident in Philadelphia?
The compensation you could expect, if your child suffers serious injuries in an accident, would depend on several factors. Consult with an experienced Philadelphia child injury attorney to learn more about the compensation your family deserves if your child suffered serious injuries in an accident. An attorney may need to evaluate:
Who caused your child’s injuries? Many of the parties whose negligence leads to serious injuries may carry insurance policies that could help provide compensation in the event of a claim, including a Philadelphia child injury claim for a child’s injuries. That insurance policy may define how much compensation you could expect to receive, even if your child’s medical bills and other expenses exceed the amount offered. Drivers, for example, usually carry auto insurance that includes a bodily injury protection policy. That policy would pay out for the injuries your child has suffered if the driver caused the accident.
How much did your child’s medical bills cost? Your child may have substantial medical bills, especially after an accident that results in serious injuries. Not only could injuries like traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury lead to substantial immediate medical expenses, but you may also find your family facing significant long-term medical expenses to help manage your child’s injuries. Many attorneys will advise waiting until your child has had time to recover and get a more complete idea of what the progression of recovery will look like before filing your Philadelphia child injury claim. You may not have a solid idea of what your child’s medical expenses will look like until six months or more after the accident.
You could include your child’s medical expenses as part of your Philadelphia child injury claim.
- Emergency medical treatment, including the ambulance ride
- Surgeries and procedures
- Durable medical equipment
- Therapy, including both physical and occupational therapy
- Psychological therapy, if needed
- An in-home caregiver for your child, if needed
Children often need to replace durable medical equipment more often than adults do. These can include wheelchairs and prosthetic devices. Not only do children often treat medical equipment more roughly, they grow out of it at a faster pace, which may require the family to replace the equipment more regularly than if an adult had suffered similar injuries
Insurance companies generally base the payment for pain and suffering off of a percentage of the medical expenses incurred after the accident. This may be a figure between 1.5 and 4 times the amount required for medical expenses for pain and suffering.
What other expenses did your family face due to your child’s injuries? The injury that a child suffers could place a substantial financial burden on the family, especially if the child has substantial ongoing medical care needs. For example, one parent may need to stop working to care for the child. You may need to modify your home to accommodate your child’s injuries and help make your child more independent. Talk to an attorney today to learn more about how those expenses may impact your Philadelphia child injury claim.
5. Does my child have to manage the Philadelphia child injury claim?
No. As your child’s guardian, you can file a Philadelphia child injury claim on their behalf. You could make critical decisions about the claim, including when to accept a settlement offer. You should also employ an attorney to help manage the Philadelphia child injury claim.
6. Will it traumatize my child further to file a Philadelphia child injury claim?
You’re right to ask this question. Children, however, generally do not experience additional trauma related to their Philadelphia child injury claims. Most of the claim process requires little to no input for your child. Your child may not need to testify repeatedly or go over the accident over and over again. If this concerns you, call us to see how our Philadelphia child injury lawyers can work to protect your child.
Ultimately, filing a Philadelphia child injury claim after a child suffers from an injury could benefit your family. Funds you may receive could help ensure that your child receives better medical care and that their other needs are met. A Philadelphia child injury claim can also help compensate your family for wages lost due to a parent’s inability to work after a child’s injuries.
7. How long do I have to file a injury claim if my child suffers an injury in Philadelphia?
If your child suffers an injury in Philadelphia, you may have until your child turns eighteen to file a Philadelphia child injury claim. On the other hand, if you need to file a Philadelphia child injury claim against a government entity, including a school district, you may need to file a Philadelphia child injury claim sooner to potentially receive compensation. Contact an experienced Philadelphia child injury attorney to learn more about when you need to file for compensation and how the statute of limitations can impact that claim.
8. The insurance company that covers the party that caused my child’s accident contacted me soon after the accident and offered a settlement. We could really use the money. Should I take it?
The insurance company that covers the liable party may contact you soon after your child’s accident to issue a settlement. That settlement offer may sound appealing on the surface. Your child has likely accumulated substantial medical bills, and you may have other financial needs that grow more urgent as time goes by.
That settlement offer, however, may not reflect the full funds your child actually deserves in compensation for their injuries. In many cases, the insurance company would try to convince you to accept an early offer, before you have a chance to genuinely understand what your child’s medical bills will look like or develop a better understanding of what his or her recovery will entail. If you accept this offer, you relieve the insurance company of future financial liability for your child’s injuries.
Consult an attorney before accepting that offer. An attorney can give you a better idea of how much compensation your child may deserve and when you should continue to negotiate.
9. Will we have to go to court to settle my child’s Philadelphia child injury claim?
Most Philadelphia child injury claims, including child injury claims, settle out of court. Going to court can add substantial time and legal expense to a claim, and insurance companies will generally try to avoid it if they can. If you do go to court, having an experienced Philadelphia child injury attorney on your side who already knows your case and your needs could increase the odds of a successful outcome in your claim.
10. What happens if the liable party tries to blame us, the parents, for our child’s injuries?
The insurance company that covers the liable party, or in some cases the liable party themselves, may attempt to shift liability for the accident to you, as the parents. If the liable party can prove that you caused the accident or contributed to your child’s injuries, it can decrease the compensation you receive. Working with an attorney could help you establish fault for the accident.
An attorney could help:
- Gather evidence. An attorney may take a look at the scene of the accident or evaluate the circumstances that led to the accident.
- Interview witnesses. Witness interviews can give a better idea of exactly what happened during the accident.
- Review the law and help you better understand it. An attorney can provide you with a better understanding of who may have influenced your child’s accident.
11. What should I do if my child suffers injuries due to another party’s negligence?
If your child suffers injuries due to another party’s negligence, you should:
- Seek immediate medical attention for your child, even if you do not know if your child suffered serious injuries or do not believe that your child suffered serious injuries.
- Contact your insurance company and ask any questions you have about your coverage.
- Get in touch with an experienced Philadelphia child injury attorney as soon as possible.
Experienced, Caring Philadelphia Child Injury Attorneys
No parent should have to endure the trauma of learning their child has suffered a severe injury in a motor vehicle accident or other incident. At the very least, parents who suffer that agony deserve sound, straightforward, and compassionate legal representation to make sure they get the compensation they need and deserve for their child’s and family’s injuries and losses.
For over 15 years, the lawyers at The Levin Firm have represented Philadelphia parents and children who suffered harm through no fault of their own. Contact us online or at (215) 825-5183 for a free case evaluation.