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Minor or major, what parents should know about children and accidents

SPONSORED — From morning routines to making sure dinner is ready each evening, parents of young children have enough on their plates. But that to-do list comes to a screeching to a halt when a child is injured in an accident — especially if the incident is a result of someone else’s negligence or carelessness.

Parents often feel lost and confused about how to handle these situations, as very few people ever truly consider researching or hiring a lawyer until they need one. But understanding the legal issues that may arise after a child suffers an injury could make a difference in your child’s future.

Children’s injuries can be more difficult to diagnose

Every parent reacts differently when their child gets hurt, whether it’s an obviously minor injury or a potentially major one. And while parenting styles differ, getting a clear diagnosis of your child’s injury is an important first step.

In any personal injury case, it can sometimes take several weeks or even months for a doctor to determine the exact diagnosis of a person’s injuries as well as the expected timetable for recovery. The same is often true for children, as their fragile nature and developmental stage can have a significant impact on the severity of any injury. Catastrophic injuries can stunt a child’s growth or even affect their musculoskeletal structure long into the future, if not permanently.

This is one of the main reasons that the statute of limitations — a technical legal term for the time limits affecting a plaintiff’s ability to file a lawsuit — in personal injury cases for minors is different from that of adults. In Washington state, the statute of limitations for a child’s injury does not begin until the child turns 18.

Injury claims work differently for children than adults

Personal injury claims involving children are just more complicated than those involving adults — for many reasons. For one, the psychological damages that can result from a serious accident are often more severe in child injury cases. The economic impact of those damages can also be significantly greater, as the chances of these issues affecting the long-term health and well-being of an injured child are likely to be greater.

Most personal injury attorneys have experience hiring expert witnesses to provide evidence that supports the case. Lawyers who handle claims on behalf of children may need to spend more resources on expert witnesses because proving the long-term physical and psychological impact of an injury can be more difficult.

The person or party who is allegedly responsible for causing the child’s injuries may also play a factor in the complexity of a case. For example, the legal strategy and approach for a relatively straightforward motor vehicle accident case is likely going to be much different from a case involving a traumatic injury that occurred at a school or day care.

Information is power

According to Davis Law Group in Seattle, “Most people do not take the time to learn about their legal rights until after an accident has occurred, which puts the average accident victim at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to pursuing an insurance claim.”

Parents of young children can be better prepared for these situations by taking the time to learn about how the legal system works when it comes to child injury claims.

Attorney Chris Davis, founder of Davis Law Group, has personally written and published a series of free legal guides — the Washington Accident Books series — designed to educate the public about their civil legal rights. Since launching the series in 2007, Davis and his firm have given out tens of thousands of free books to people throughout Washington state.

One of the most popular books in the series is Davis’ guide for parents titled “Little Kids, Big Accidents: What Every Parent Should Know About Children and Accidents.” The book contains helpful information and real-world examples of the legal issues and common mistakes that can affect the outcome of any child injury claim. You can order your free copy of the book from www.WashingtonAccidentBooks.com or by calling Davis Law Group’s office in Seattle at 206-727-4000.

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