Child Injury Attorney in St. Louis
Unintentional accidents are the leading cause of childhood fatalities and serious injuries in the United States. More than 12,000 children die, and another 9.2 million are injured in preventable accidents each year. Negligent drivers and caretakers frequently contribute to serious childhood injuries and fatalities on both sides of the river in the St. Louis metro area. However, liable insurers often take advantage of struggling parents and injured children by making lowball settlement offers.
Children have the same right to compensation for negligently inflicted injuries as adults. At the Dixon Injury Firm, our experienced child injury attorneys vehemently represent the rights of kids in St. Louis and the Metro East. We provide dedicated legal protection to families and fight to recover maximum compensation for wrongfully injured children. Discuss the unique child injury laws applicable to your St. Louis claims today by calling (314) 208-2808 or reaching out online to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Most Common Events Resulting in St. Louis Childhood Injuries
The law defines children—also referred to as infants or minors—as persons under the age of 18 years. Because individuals don’t reach legal adulthood until they turn 18 (or obtain emancipation), special rules apply to lawsuits and insurance disputes involving minor claimants. According to the CDC, the following events account for most preventable childhood injuries and deaths:
Car & Bus Accidents (Occupants)
Car crashes / bus accidents are the leading cause of serious childhood injuries and deaths overall. This includes injuries sustained by teenage drivers and fatal car accidents involving young children. Most of these accidents result from driver negligence, including the driver of the vehicle the child occupied. Negligent caretakers may also fail to follow mandatory and recommend child safety guidelines, including using appropriate car and booster seats. Children might recover damages from multiple auto insurers following St. Louis car crashes.
Pedestrian and Bicycling Traffic Collisions
Children are disproportionately killed and injured in pedestrian accidents involving negligent drivers. Distracted drivers may strike kids crossing the road for school or clip teens riding their bikes to the Saint Louis Galleria. Young kids often assume drivers will yield the right of way to them because they seldom understand the prevalence of driver distraction.
Some children might recover medical or uninsured motorist damages from their parents’ auto insurance policies, as these policies often cover household members involved in auto accidents.
They might future pursue insurance claims against negligent drivers and caretakers.
- Suffocation and Drowning – These are the leading cause of death and acquired brain injuries in infants and children under four. Kids this young require constant supervision, and many preventable suffocation accidents result from parental or caretaker neglect. Special exceptions apply to premises liability principles if young children drown in unprotected pools or water attractions.
- Fires & Burns – Faulty appliances often result in fast-spreading apartment fires. Children may panic and hide in these cases, resulting in smoke inhalation injuries and burns.
- Abuse & Neglect – Child abuse and neglect that occurs in St. Louis, whether domestic violence or sexual abuse, often causes serious physical and emotional injuries. Dedicated child abuse and neglect lawyers might help legal guardians recover financial damages for abused and neglected children. This compensation may cover the cost of needed psychological care and include punitive damage awards.
- Accidental Poisoning – Children over 15 have higher rates of accidental poisonings causing death or brain trauma. These deaths often resulted from prescription drug errors, peer pressure, or caretaker neglect. They can also support products liability claims when companies unlawfully market dangerous products to teenagers.
- Trip and Fall Accidents – Young children may injure themselves on playgrounds due to faulty equipment, negligently designed playsets, and supervisor neglect. Many childhood injuries also occur during recreational sports. Kids cannot generally recover damages for injuries traditionally associated with recreational activities, such as concussions sustained during football matches, but they might demand compensation if overly aggressive conduct or safety equipment failures contributed to the harm.
The law does not generally hold young children responsible for preventable injuries, even if their conduct contributed to the accident. For example, caretakers and not toddlers bear responsibility if the child runs into the street. Children cannot appreciate the dangers associated with certain activities and, as such, might obtain damages for their injuries not otherwise available to adults. For this reason, it’s essential to contact injury attorneys with experience representing minors in St. Louis, MO-IL.
Understanding Children’s Rights to Demand Personal Injury Damages in St. Louis
Because minors have the same financial recovery rights as adults, they may lawfully receive personal injury damages.
These claims may involve lawsuits for the following:
- Driver negligence
- Caretaker neglect
- Premises liability
- Medical malpractice
- Products liability
- Assault and Battery
However, it’s up to parents or legal guardians to recover these damages for minors. Both parents and injured children may contact the Dixon Injury Firm to discuss their child’s injury rights in St. Louis.
Parties Eligible to Bring Personal Injury Claims on Behalf of Minors
Put simply, children under 18 cannot file personal injury lawsuits in either Illinois or Missouri. At least one parent or legal guardian must do so on the minor’s behalf. However, courts might appoint plaintiffs ad litem to file claims for children when conflicts of interest arise.
These conflicts often occur when eligible parents were partially at fault for the injuries, like when driving the vehicle or supervising kids when the accident occurred. Injured minors also have the option to wait until they turn 18 to file personal injury litigation in St. Louis, as both Illinois and Missouri laws toll (pause) the statute of limitations application to most personal injury claims, see 735 ILCS 5/13-112.
Protecting Settlement Funds for Childhood Injuries
If parents or legal guardians file claims for injured children, judges must generally approve any settlement agreements. This approval process prevents parents from accepting unfair settlement offers that only cover their out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills, and don’t account for the child’s future needs. Courts may request trained lawyers, called guardians ad litem, review settlement proposals and conduct best interest investigations.
Further, judges and St. Louis plaintiff’s lawyers should ensure parents do not unlawfully spend childhood injury awards. This normally means placing the money in trust until the minor turns 18 or approving direct payments for outstanding medical and educational expenses. Parents may withdraw trust funds to cover appropriate expenses, such as rehabilitation and special education costs, and minors generally obtain full access to the money when they turn 18, 21, or 25, depending on the designated payment structure.
Most Common Injuries Suffered by Minors
Children and adults may suffer from the same accident injuries with vastly different consequences. Kids often recover more quickly from back and neck pain following car accidents, but they can also suffer greater setbacks after traumatic brain injuries.
Growing children may need multiple surgeries to correct torn ligaments and fractures and might suffer serious developmental setbacks. Parents should consult with pediatricians and medical experts familiar with treating childhood injuries to get clear pictures of their child’s prognosis and future needs.
Some common childhood injuries include:
- Hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries (brain trauma resulting from oxygen deprivation) often occur in choking, allergic reaction, and drowning accidents
- Concussions (mild traumatic brain injuries) from low-speed car crashes, sports accidents, or minor falls
- Severe traumatic brain injuries from high-speed car accidents, elevated falls, pedestrian accidents, and assaults
- Shaken Baby Syndrome, a form of severe traumatic brain injuries resulting from physical abuse
- Leg, wrist, and arm fractures from bicycle crashes and falls
- Rib fractures and chest contusions from falling furniture, such as the $46 million Ikea dresser case
- Burns from exploding products and car fires
- Organ damage from accidental poisonings when companies market dangerous products to kids
- Brain injuries and physical disabilities incurred due to OB-GYN malpractice
Monitor your child’s emotional state and psychological development after any traumatic injury, especially head trauma. Children can develop post-traumatic stress disorder and may be missing important social milestones. Dedicated St. Louis child injury attorneys may demand damages for necessary counseling, rehabilitation, and special education.
Calculating Future Damages After Disabling Childhood Injuries
In personal injury cases, liable defendants must put the injured claimant back in the position he/she would have been in if the accident hadn’t occurred. This means covering medical expenses, lost wages, and incidental damages such as lost promotions and raises. With minors, it’s harder to calculate future damages.
Doctors cannot always foresee how the child’s injury will impact her cognitive development, learning skills, and growth. Further, it’s extremely difficult to tell if the injury will result in future lost earning capacity or disability. It’s easy to let insurance adjusters make lowball offers in such cases, but the dedicated child injury lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm might help families maximize available damages.
These damages might include:
- Hospital and doctors costs
- Transportation to specialized children’s hospitals or clinics
- Physical and cognitive therapy
- Cosmetic procedures
- Medical equipment and medication
- Special education costs
- Companionship and home nursing care
- Counseling costs
- Anticipated lost wages
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Lost enjoyment of childhood hobbies and activities
- Parental lost wages and out-of-pocket costs associated with the child’s injury
Most claimants need economic and occupation experts to testify about a minor’s potential lost wages following disabling injuries. This requires some level of speculation but normally involves estimating the child’s disability level (100 percent, 50 percent, or 20 percent), then taking the average state salary and multiplying lost wages by the average work-life expectancy. In some cases, experts may use the parents’ income to estimate the potential value of the child’s future earning capacity.
Experts are also needed when injuries to infants leave courts unable to determine the extent of the child’s emotional suffering and pain (non-economic damages). If doctors cannot provide an accurate prognosis for a young child, lawyers may recommend settling certain claims and waiting until the minor turns 18 to file litigation. This isn’t always an option for struggling parents, however.
St. Louis Child Injury FAQs
Child injury claims are some of the most complex and perplexing cases. If your child is injured, you likely have many questions. We hope to address some of them here. Be sure to reach out to our office to schedule a complimentary case review and find out how we can help you pursue compensation on behalf of you and your child during this difficult time.
What Is the Leading Cause of Child Injury in Care Settings?
Those most at risk for an injury and a resulting injury claim in a childcare setting include distracted children, young athletes, and child abuse victims. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), falling causes the most injury accidents in children of all ages. Approximately 8,000 teenagers, children, toddlers, and infants are treated daily in the emergency room for fall-related injuries.
Falls can happen:
- On stairs
- On raised landings
- In cluttered walkways
- From windows
- Out of beds without railing
- In wet and slippery bathtubs
- In baby walkers
They can result in swelling, bleeding, headaches, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, fractures, memory loss, and loss of consciousness. Depending on the age and physical condition of the child before their fall, they may suffer life-threatening or even catastrophic injuries. When these tragic events happen in a daycare or childcare setting, they are often preventable. Several parties can be held liable.
Our job is to determine who and seek justice on behalf of your child and your family.
Who Is Responsible for Your Child’s Injury?
If your child suffered an injury that was more than just a typical accident, you have the right to hold the responsible party accountable for the injuries and damages you and your child face. Sometimes the at-fault party is not who you think it is.
- A car accident may not be only the other driver’s fault—the party responsible for designing the road or manufacturing the vehicle can be liable.
- An accident involving a baby swing can be the fault of the swing’s manufacturer, the daycare, and its employee.
- A fall from a window can happen because of the window company that recently replaced the window and the child’s babysitter.
- A slip and fall on an icy sidewalk in front of Richmond Heights Memorial Library can be the fault of the county and the company it contracts with to remove snow at the libraries.
- A child pedestrian accident might be the driver’s fault and a mechanic shop or auto manufacturer.
- A near-drowning accident can be the fault of a homeowner and the manufacturer of a faulty pool gate.
Nevertheless, you need a lawyer who can determine fault in an accident. Without knowing who caused the circumstances leading up to the accident, there’s no one to hold accountable for your damages. When you hire an experienced attorney from the Dixon Injury Firm, they will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is liable for your child’s injuries.
Multiple parties can be responsible for the same injury accident, in which the legal framework of shared liability applies. Having a seasoned lawyer who can make such a determination will maximize your claim. If more than one party shares liability, the court will apportion a percentage of fault to each party.
For example, suppose your child suffered an injury on playground equipment at a local park. A court may find the equipment manufacturer 70 percent liable and the government body responsible for the park 30 percent liable. If your court award was $100,000, the playground equipment manufacturer will owe you $70,000 and the government $30,000.
How Will You Pay for Your Child’s Medical Care?
Don’t let cost or financial burden keep you from seeking medical care for your child. Most emergency rooms must treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. You can also use any medical insurance they have, although the medical insurance company may request subrogation from any other involved insurance companies. In addition, many medical providers are happy to work out payment agreements in which you pay a small portion of your bill every month until you’ve paid it off.
Suppose you are pursuing compensation through the legal system. In that case, your attorney can get the medical providers to agree to a medical lien. A medical lien is a legal agreement between the medical provider, you, and your attorney. The medical provider agrees to provide medical care now for your child. You and your attorney agree that you will pay the lien in full once you receive your settlement monies or court award.
We know how burdensome it can be to worry about affording the medical care your child needs to heal and recover as best they can. Rest assured that when you hire one of our attorneys, we will do everything we can to get you full and fair compensation so you can pay for the care your child needs—even if they will need care far into the future.
How Long Will It Take to Settle Your Child’s Injury Claim?
Most injury claims settle outside of court within several months or around a year. However, some can take two or more years, and others may go to court and take more time. Sometimes child injury cases are more complex and take more time due to the prognosis of their injury or figuring out how to manage their portion of the settlement until they are 18 years of age.
We know that waiting on a settlement or court award can be difficult, especially when you have bills to pay. Our attorneys work hard to get full and fair compensation for your child’s injuries while also being cognizant of how much time it might take.
Your case may take longer if:
- Your child suffered severe or catastrophic injuries
- It may take a while for your child to reach maximum medical improvement
- There are several liable parties
- Determining liability in the case is complicated
What is Your Child’s Claim Worth?
When we meet with parents of injured children, this is one of the first questions we are asked. It only makes sense as you are likely facing many financial losses such as medical bills and time off of work—not to mention your child deserves compensation for all the pain and suffering they have endured.
When you meet with us for confidential case consultation, we will review all the facts of the case—including how your child was injured and the type, extent, and prognosis of their injuries. With our experience and knowledge of recent cases in our area, we can provide you with an estimate of what your claim might be worth.
Your claim is likely worth more if:
- Liability in the case is clear
- Multiple parties are liable for your child’s injuries
- Your child’s injuries are severe or catastrophic
- It’s clear that your child’s injuries were the result of the other party’s negligence
What Types of Damages Can Your Family Receive?
Childhood injuries affect not just the injured child but their parents and the entire family. If your child suffered an injury at the hands of another party, you can be entitled to several types of damages. Generally speaking, we divide compensation into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages affect you financially.
- Lost wages and income from taking time off work to care for your child or take them to medical appointments or therapy
- Medical expenses
- Mental health services
- Medical devices
- Property damage (vehicle, bike, clothing, jewelry, etc.)
On the other hand, non-economic damages are those that impact you and your child in different ways. They can be hard to place a value on but are no less just as important to a child’s injury claim.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced living standard
- Educational setbacks
- A lost sense of normalcy
- Reduction in self-esteem
- Missing out on the fun or essential activities such as time with friends, sports practices/games, or field trips at school
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the accident itself or from receiving necessary medical care and treatment
Punitive damages may also be available, depending on the specifics of your child’s case. Instead of compensation, the court awards punitive damages to punish and deter the party who caused your child harm. Punitive damages aren’t awarded in every case but rather when the offending party’s behavior was particularly wanton and without regard to safety. Your attorney can help you ask the judge for punitive damages where appropriate. Keep in mind that if your child’s injury claim settles out of court, that settlement does not include punitive damages.
What Protections Do Children Receive in Their Injury Cases?
Pursuing an injury claim for a minor can be emotionally trying. A parent or guardian may have concerns about protecting their child from any worries or fears regarding the process.
Parents should know that their child has some protections under Missouri that the law does not afford to adults in an injury case.
Legal protections available for a minor child involved in a Missouri personal injury case may include:
- Identity: The identity of a minor can remain anonymous from the public
- Testifying in court: Depending on the child’s age, they may need to provide a deposition testifying about their injuries and how they happened. In addition, the court can limit questioning through a protective order to protect the child from harassing questions from the defending party or parties.
- Attendance and involvement: The child doesn’t need to go to pretrial conferences or mediations and doesn’t always have to be present in the courtroom for the trial.
Can You Accept a Settlement on Your Child’s Behalf?
While you and your attorney are allowed to negotiate and settle a claim on behalf of your minor judge, it must typically be approved or accepted by the judge to be valid.
A minor can’t pursue their own claim, and they generally can’t receive the proceeds of a settlement or judgment in their case until they reach the age of majority. Usually, the minor child’s parent or guardian is responsible for putting the funds in a trust or other secure investment until the minor’s 18th birthday. It’s also standard procedure for a judge to approve these measures before the at-fault party pays the settlement.
Although these procedures may seem somewhat intrusive, they protect the child’s best interests and significantly decrease the chances of their parents or guardians misusing their money. However, parents may use some settlement proceeds to pay economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
Why Choose the Dixon Injury Firm?
There’s no lack of personal injury attorneys in St. Louis. We respect that you have a choice when it comes to finding the right law firm to represent you and your child in an injury claim. The Dixon Injury Firm is an award-winning personal injury firm dedicated to serving injured parties in our community.
Our attorneys have vast experience helping other families just like yours. We know these are sensitive matters and that we must protect your children at all costs. We are strong advocates for injured children and their families. We know that these injuries and your question can come up at any time of day, any day of the year. That’s why we are available to you 24/7. Our dedication to our clients never rests. If your child is injured so severely that you cannot leave their bedside to make it to our office, we will come to you.
Recovering Damages for Childhood Sexual Abuse in St. Louis
Both Missouri and Illinois have extended the statute of limitations applicable to childhood sexual abuse claims. Adults subject to sexual abuse as children have until their 31st birthday (10 years from their 21st birthday) to file Missouri sexual abuse claims against the offender and until their 26th birthday to file abuse claims against vicariously liable parties, such as USA Gymnastics or the Catholic Church (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.046).
Adults also have three years from the date they first discovered that certain conditions, such as infertility or PTSD, were linked to childhood sexual abuse. Likewise, Illinois gives victims of childhood sexual abuse until their 38th birthday (20 years from turning 18) to file child sexual abuse claims or 20 years from when the claimant discovered that their abuse caused damages (735 ILCS 5/13-202.2).
The statute of limitations of an abuse case can vary from state to state. However, legislators are increasingly calling for the complete elimination of statutory deadlines for childhood sexual abuse victims. Minors generally lack the power to fight for their rights during childhood and frequently suffer from debilitating psychological conditions stemming from the abuse.
Many young adults must also continuously interact with their abusers, such as parents or stepparents, often until they have established themselves in their careers. If you suffered from childhood sexual abuse in St. Louis, our injury attorneys might fight for your compensation rights regardless of age.
Child Injury Attorneys for Minors and Parents in St. Louis
Whether you want to obtain damages for a wrongfully injured child or file lawsuits for childhood injuries and abuse, connect with the dedicated St. Louis injury lawyers at Dixon Injury Firm for free. We don’t get paid unless our clients recover needed compensation for their injuries. We might even front the expert witness costs necessary to calculate child injury damages after disabling accidents.
Do not let insurance companies take advantage of injured children and struggling parents. We might help parents recover damages for out-of-pocket medical expenses and obtain needed financial support for children with injury-related developmental delays. Discuss your rights to demand insurance settlements for injured children or file childhood injury claims with us today by calling (314) 208-2808 or contacting us online.
You can count on us to provide highly personalized legal service to every client, no matter their age. Our strategy has helped us recover over $60 million in life-changing compensation for injured individuals and families in St. Louis.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132