Scales of Jusice - Red White and BlueUnder Florida law, a parent may be liable for the bad acts whether they are negligent acts or intentional acts of a child.  However, it should be made clear that a parent is not automatically liable or responsible based on the parent – child relationship.  In the State of Florida, the case on point is Gissen v. Goodwill, 80 So.2d 701 (Supreme Court of Florida 1955).  In Gissen, the Supreme Court of Florida noted the circumstances in which a parent may be held liable for the bad acts of a child as follows:
1 – The parent entrusts an instrumentality to the child which because of the child’s age, judgment or experience may be a source of danger to others.  Examples of such an instrumentality may be a dirt motor bike, a lawnmower, a gun, etc. . .
2 – The child is acting as an agent or servant on behalf of the parent at the time that the tort is committed.

School Bus CrashIn the State of Florida, millions of students are transported via school bus on a daily basis.  The typical school bus is yellow or orange in color and clearly visible to all other drivers on the roadway.   When there is a school bus on the roadway, other drivers should pay due care and drive safely.  Of course, this is simple common sense; however, it is important to stress the importance of driving carefully when driving near school buses.  Our most precious “cargo” is on board in the form of school aged students.  At times, there are crashes involving two or more school buses who are following each other on a school outing or during a transportation run. When school buses collide, the force can be quite intense and personal injuries can and do result from these crashes.  There is no immunity per se from liability for school districts for the negligence of a school bus driver.  This should not be confused with the legal term – “Sovereign Immunity”.  When a person reads the term “Sovereign Immunity”, one may get the idea that a claim or case cannot under any circumstances be pursued against a government entity.  The truth of the matter is that a case or claim can be pursued against a government entity like a school district when there is a school bus crash that is the fault of a school bus driver.  “Sovereign Immunity”  only means that there are certain notices and procedures to follow when pursuing a case or claim against a government entity.  For instance, there is a required formal – technical 6 month notice that is required to be given to the school district.  Furthermore, there are limitations as to the amount of compensation that can be recovered and there are restrictions or limitations on the attorney fees that can be charged by a Florida Child Injury Lawyer representing the injured child.

In Clay County – Middleburg – Florida, there was a reported crash involving 3 school buses.  It was a rear end type of crash.  It was reported that 100 students were being transported with approximately 23 or so being transported and treated at a local hospital. Initial reports indicate that the first two buses stopped or were stopping when the third bus crashed into the second bus which was then pushed into the first bus.  The parents of the children injured in this Clay County school bus accident will be faced with the challenge of dealing with the child’s medical bills, the medical treatment, and the personal injuries in the aftermath of the crash.  Even though the children were on a school bus, there may be benefits available to the child under a parent’s or resident relative’s insurance policy.  Furthermore, there may be limitations as to the total amount of compensation available to the injury victims who seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
David A. Wolf is an attorney with over 25 years of experience in handling child injury cases including school bus crashes.  He understands the importance of advocating for the injured child and providing the parents with timely and practical legal advice in the aftermath of a school bus crash or other incident causing personal injuries.  He is the author of 5 books including the book titled – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident.  The book covers issues including but not limited to medical bills, medical treatment, settlement and value of cases, automobile insurance, and other topics.  You can get this book for free at When the Wheels Stop Spinning.  David Wolf prides himself on his work ethic and availability to his clients and prospective clients days, nights, and weekends.  If you have a case or claim to discuss with David A. Wolf, contact him right now and see him go into action for you. He provides a FREE CONSULTATION on all injury cases. David A. Wolf handles personal injury cases including child injury cases on a contingency basis. In other words, if there is no financial recovery, there are no fees or costs charged by David A. Wolf.

Pedestrian Crossing Sign - Child InjuryIn the State of Florida, the law classifies a motor vehicle as a dangerous instrumentality.  As such, the owner of a vehicle is liable for the negligent driving of the driver under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine.  This same set of laws makes a company liable for the driving of an employee given permission to drive a company vehicle.  In the State of Florida and other States, there is a danger that exists in every community.  Negligent driving in the form of distracted driving leads to far too many crashes and accidents which cause injuries to children and even the wrongful death of children.  Distracted driving presents itself in different forms forms including but not limited to mobile phone use, texting, e-mailing, reading e-mails or texts, eating, drinking, smoking, dropping items, picking up items, etc. . . . Any action that takes away from the job at hand – driving the motor vehicle – can be classified as distracted driving.

In Hernando County, Florida, it was recently reported that a child pedestrian died when the child was struck by a motor vehicle.  It was reported that the driver of a Jaguar got distracted after dropping a cigarette while operating the motor vehicle.  Since a death resulted form a motor vehicle type of accident, the Florida Highway Patrol will complete a full investigation and later release a report as to its findings including the estimated speed of the vehicle, distance measurements, fault, and preventability of the incident.

The death of a child due to the negligence of others is a tragedy.  A young life ended way too early from an event or incident that was preventable.  Certainly, accidents happen.  However, it is truly a shame when a child dies from an automobile, bicycle, or pedestrian accident through no fault of the child or her parents.  As parents, we work tirelessly through each day with the goals of providing for our children, of protecting for our children, and, yes, of keeping our children safe.

Red Bicycle.001In Florida, there is a common risk or danger in most communities. Children ride bicycles in most communities.  This is the common risk and danger.  It is well known or should be well known that children lack good safety awareness.  Furthermore, the motor skills of small children are still developing when the children especially when the children are in pre-school and elementary school.  Because of the risks of bicycle riding, it is important for all motorist to slow down any time that a driver is near a child riding a bicycle.  Children enjoy riding bicycles in neighborhoods, parking lots, driveways and elsewhere.
When a child is hit by a vehicle while riding a bicycle, the personal injuries can range from minor ones to significant personal injuries including the wrongful death of a child.  A child and bicycle are no match for the steel and weight of the typical motor vehicle.  When you combine the size differential with any amount of speed, the situation can easily escalate to one with horrific and catastrophic personal injuries.  
It should be noted that Florida is a comparative fault state.  As such, for a particular accident or incident, there can be a percentage distribution of fault attributed to the bicycle rider and driver.  It should also be noted that children under a certain age cannot be held comparatively at fault as a matter of law.  In the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held comparatively at fault; however, a parent or supervisor of the child may be help proportionally at fault for the lack of supervision of the child. 

Pedestrian Crossing Sign - Child SafetyWhen a child or adult is injured as a result of a Florida Automobile Accident, there are many challenges presented including but not limited to the payment of medical bills.   Let’s say that a child or an adult is walking across the street and then is hit by a driver who was not paying attention.  The injured pedestrian suffered a fractured leg and other injuries.  The driver was 100 % at fault for the crash as a result of looking down at a text message as the driver approached a red light.  Under this fact scenario, one would assume that the at-fault driver would be liable or on the hook for all of the medical bills and related damages.  Under Florida law, this is not the case if the injured pedestrian owned a vehicle OR if the injured pedestrian resided with a relative who owned a vehicle.  PIP (Personal Injury Protection) under a Florida Automobile Insurance Policy may end up covering the medical bills for the injured pedestrian.

Let’s bring up a few more facts to illustrate how this works. Let’s say that the injured pedestrian is a twelve year old boy named Johnny who resides with his mother Mary Jones.  At the time of the pedestrian accident, Mary Jones owned a vehicle that was insured with GEICO Insurance.  The at-fault driver was insured through State Farm Insurance.  Even though the vehicle of Mary Jones was no where near the crash site where the pedestrian was injured, GEICO – the insurance company for Mary Jones – will most likely pay the medical bills of Johnny Jones, the twelve year old injured pedestrian.  Under some circumstances, a pedestrian can qualify for PIP coverage for the at-fault driver IF AND ONLY IF the injured pedestrian did not own a vehicle AND if the injured pedestrian did not resident with a resident relative who owned a vehicle and had insurance on the vehicle.

Certainly, there are a host of challenges in the aftermath of a pedestrian accident when a child or adult suffered personal injuries. The payment or responsibility for the payment of the medical bills is just one piece of a complicated puzzle.  It is important for the injury victim and the family to retain the services of a Florida Personal Injury Attorney to get guidance, advice, and, yes, legal representation to get through these tough and confusing issues.

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood

During the holiday season and all other times of year, it is important for parents, schools, and day care centers to be aware of the dangers that some toys cause to children.  If a child is injured by the use, play, or contact with a toy, the owner of the home, day care center, or school may be held liable if there was an issue with the supervision of the child, if the toy at issue was known to be dangerous, or if the toy was inappropriate for the age and maturity of the child.

Federal safety standards are put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of injuries to children from toys. Even with these standards in place, it is estimated that every three minutes a child is injured by a toy and makes a trip to the emergency room. This equates to approximately 250,000 children going to the emergency room in 2013 alone. In addition, the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission estimated roughly nine children died in 2013 from toy related injuries.

With internet shopping becoming more prevalent, more and more parents are purchasing toys online. A problem with online shopping is that parents are unable to physically view the toys for safety issues and are often unable to read all of the warnings printed on the package. Without the ability to physically see the toy to locate unknown dangers or to read all warnings, parents may be purchasing toys that are not fit for the age and maturity of their child. A lack of knowledge regarding the safety of a toy can lead to serious injuries to children.

mle_1935a-022614-calGun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment.  Certainly, there is a strong history and constitutional right to gun ownership in Florida and the United States.  With this right, there are also the responsibility of sensible and reasonable ownership and safety especially when children are present in a home or a location where guns are owned, maintained, and stored.   A homeowner / gun owner can be held liable for leaving a gun in a place or location that is accessible to a young child.   It is well known that children especially toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school children are curious and do not always recognize the danger of touching or handling a gun.  Civil or legal responsibility for injuries or the death of a young child does not in any way abrogate or curtail gun ownership or rights.  Like driving an automobile or running an amusement park right, there must be responsible maintenance and operation surrounding the potentially dangerous activity.

An Arkansas woman was recently charged after her six year old nephew shot and killed himself with a gun she owned. The young boy was waiting in a car while the woman was in a nearby residence. The accidental death lead to the woman being charged with manslaughter. She was charged criminally because she was  alleged to be negligent or careless for keeping the gun in a place accessible to the young boy. With such a tragic event, this particular incident and others are wake up calls for all gun owners and homeowners to be responsible any time that guns and children are present in the same location.

Gun related injuries can happen to a child of any age. In fact, toddlers, aged two or three, are strong enough to pull the trigger of a loaded gun. Often, these toddlers are too young to understand what a gun is and the danger that it poses. Coupled with the fact that one in three children live in a home with a gun, this is all the more reason to practice proper gun safety.

Kids Wooden Blocks Spelling Mom And Dad As Symbol for Parenthood
Day care centers have a duty to provide supervision to the children enrolled in the program.   As part of this supervision, child care providers should make sure that all exits and areas are secure and that no children wander away from the facility. It is well known that children are curious and lack good safety awareness.  As such, at times, a child will wander away from the facility.   This, in turn, may lead to serious personal injuries or even the death of the child.  This raises the issue as to whether the day care center is liable when a child wanders away from the facility.   From a practical standpoint, it may be difficult to pursue a civil case or claim when there was no physical harm caused to the child during the wandering away incident or event.

For instance, let’s say that a child wanders away and is just about to cross the street.  The child is outside of the facility for about 5 minutes and is found by a police officer who happened to be in the area.  The child is promptly returned to the day care center.  Certainly, the child could have been seriously harmed in the busy traffic just outside of this day care center. Furthermore, the child would have been seriously injured but for the presence of the attentive police officer.  However, based on the facts as presented, the child was unharmed and promptly returned to the facility.   The day care center was certainly negligent and may be fined or even closed for such conduct; however, there was no physical harm caused to the child. 
In some States, a physical injury would be required to pursue a civil case or claim for personal injuries or harm to a child. In other States, not such proof would be required; however, in each instance, it would be a difficult case to pursue from a damage / value perspective. If the facts are changed, the case is much different. 

School Bus CrashWhen a child is injured as a result of a school bus accident, there are often questions and challenges for a parent as it pertains tomedical care for the accident related injuries. A parent may think that a school bus or school district would automatically pay for the medical bills and provide for medical care if the accident or crash was the fault of the school bus driver. While this may seem to be reasonable and full of common sense, school bus companies and the related insurance companies do not automatically go into gear to provide for or pay the medical bills for the injured child. As such, a parent must often make arrangements on his or her own to get the child appropriately evaluated and treated. Here is a list of medical providers who may provide care following a school bus accident:
Pediatrician or Primary Care Doctor. The pediatrician or primary care doctor may be appropriate for medical care following an automobile accident if the injuries seem relatively minor and do not require much in the way of follow-up.
Emergency Room. If the child needs immediate medical care and there appears to be signs and symptoms of trauma related head injuries, back injuries, injuries to the extremities, internal injuries,  etc. . . the parent should take immediate action to get the child properly stabilized and evaluated at the emergency room. Many cities, especially the larger ones, have emergency room and hospitals that special specialize in the care of children. If such a facility is available, parents should take child to a pediatric emergency room or trauma center. Typically, a pediatric specialist the best position to have the best training in order to provide the proper evaluation and treatment of children following the school bus accident.

  School Bus Blue.001St. Johns County, there was a serious school bus accident that injured a number of children including one child who was airlifted and three children who were transported to Baptist South Medical Center located in Jacksonville, Florida.   This particular accident was reported as a single vehicle accident.  According to Action News and other media outlets, the driver, Joseph David Sanks, 69, of St. Augustine, was issued a citation for careless driving.  As Mr. Sanks was driving the yellow school bus on Interstate 95 near International Golf Parkway – he veered off the side of the road and into some trees.  There were no other vehicles damaged or reported involved with the crash.  Investigators from the Florida Highway Patrol interviewed witnesses and later issues a citation for Careless Driving to the school bus driver.  Does this mean that this is an open and shut case?  Not necessarily.  The Florida Highway Patrol does not control the outcome of the injury claims or potential civil cases that may arise from this accident.  Furthermore, while the school bus driver was charged with careless driving, he can contest the charges and request a hearing in traffic court with or without the benefit of legal representation.  Unless there was a mechanical failure or some other good explanation for the school bus driver crashing into a group of trees, it is highly unlikely that the school bus driver will prevail in traffic court.  Of course, the traffic court judge or hearing officer may decide to cut the school bus driver a break and withhold adjudication on the citation. It should be noted that the disposition of the traffic court hearing does not control the course of the potential civil cases or claims.  See Driver Charged in St. Johns County Florida School Bus Accident on Interstate 95.

Because of the complexities of Florida’s legal system especially as it pertains to liability, damages, and the intricate procedures by which a case or claim must be filed against a sovereign entity (government entity) like a school distrct, it is important for the parents of the injured children to retain the services of a qualified and experienced Florida Child Injury Lawyer for advice, guidance, and legal representation.

There may be several sources for the payment of medical bills and damages associated with a school bus accident including the following: