Your child was hurt by someone acting carelessly – or worse. What does the law say about responsibility for the resulting costs?
Each year, emergency rooms in the U.S. treat over 200,000 children under the age of 15 for playground-related injuries, with almost half involving fractures, concussions, amputations, and other serious injuries. Another 400,000 children receive medical care annually because of dog attacks. Teenagers are often involved in car accidents, the leading cause of injuries to that age group. Injuries are the leading cause of death in children from 1 to 18 years.
Childhood injuries often are the result of an innocent mishap – the almost unavoidable tumbles kids encounter while being kids. But what if the injury was caused by someone being careless – or worse? When circumstances suggest someone caused your child’s injury by being careless, reckless, or mean, it’s natural to reach out to a personal injury attorney so the person takes responsibility for the damages caused.
Who is Liable?
If someone’s negligence injures another, that person is required to pay compensation for all harm caused. “Negligence” doesn’t mean being a bad person, behaving recklessly or intentionally, or even habitually careless. It just means that at some particular time, a person failed to use the care expected of an ideal, prudent person who takes care to avoid harm to others. A South Dakota personal injury lawyer can evaluate whether the facts of your case would support a claim of negligence.
Even another minor could be liable, if the minor was negligent when judged against what is expected of a minor of that age and maturity. Minors usually have limited ability to pay for the harm they caused, but their parents’ homeowners’ policies likely include liability coverage for all members of the family in the household. Parents themselves generally are not liable for their children’s negligence, but they can be required to pay for up to $2,500 of harm their child intentionally caused. Sometimes, of course, it is adults themselves whose negligence causes a child’s injury, whether from inattentive daycare or failing to protect young visitors from the family dog.
No-fault payments for medical bills
Property insurance policies often pay the first few thousand dollars of medical expenses to treat an injury that occurred on the premises, regardless of fault. If your son broke his arm in the neighbor’s backyard, the neighbor’s homeowner’s policy may cover the first $5,000 or so of medical expenses, even if no one was at fault. Advantages of using no-fault “med pay” coverage are (a) no deductible, and (b) no need to prove fault.
Companies selling car insurance in South Dakota also are required to offer no-fault “med pay” coverage. If a car struck your daughter while she was riding her bike, the insurance policy on the car may pay the first dollars of any necessary treatment costs, whether or not the driver was negligent. That same coverage protects kids while they’re riding in a car.
If your child has been hurt and you have concerns about who is liable to pay the medical bills, have a personal injury lawyer review your case. If you live in South Dakota, contact Turbak Law Office and speak with one of our injury lawyers at 605-886-8361. We’ll do our best to answer your questions.