Child Injury Attorney in STL
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.
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.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132