Articles Tagged with child injury

Water-Safety-150x150Florida is a state that allows for swimming virtually year round.  There are swimming pools in just about every neighborhood from small backyard pools to community swimming pools.  While swimming is a great activity for children, it also poses a real risk for children, especially toddlers and smaller children who lack strong swimming, survival skills, and judgment.  Certainly, a child is at risk when there is no adult supervision in the area of the water way / swimming pool.  Even when adults are present, there are also risks to children if their the “supervision” is distracted by conversation, mobile phone use, a television, or just simple inattention.  When a child dies or is seriously injured from a drowning incident, there is a ripple effect through the family and the community.

A recent event that occurred in Jacksonville, Florida exemplifies this. According to a news report, a toddler  drowned in a backyard pool when family members briefly lost track of him. Events like these occur all too frequently. According to the Center for Disease Control, an average of over 700 children under age fourteen die annually from drowning. The Center for Disease Control also indicates that, for every child that dies from drowning, five others go to the hospital for almost drowning. Unfortunately, Florida leads the nation in number of child deaths from drowning in 2017, as revealed by the Miami Herald. Thus, staying vigilant with children around water is especially pertinent in Florida.  See Water Injuries – Fact Sheet- Center for Disease Control. 

Most drowning and near drowning incidents are completely preventable.  Water safety / swimming precautions can include: installation of fencing around water, designation of an adult to provide constant supervision of children in water or around water, pool alarm systems for doors leading out to water access, adornment of lifejackets when children play near or in the water, and swim lessons at a young age. CPR training may also save a child’s life in the event that a child drowns.

Red Bicycle.001In Florida, there is a common activity in every one of the 67 counties – children riding their bicycles.   From toddlers on trikes to teens on mountain bikes and racers, children enjoy the freedom and exercise of riding their bicycles on and near Florida roads and streets.  While it is a very enjoyable and normally healthy activity to participate in, it can also be quite dangerous.   The truth is that the road is filled with drivers who are in a hurry and drivers who are distracted.   Just a second of inaction or carelessness behind the wheel of a motor vehicle can have drastic and life altering effects on the child bicyclist.  As such, it is vital that ALL DRIVERS be on the look out for the child bicyclist in the community.   A child bicyclist can be seen in a variety of locations from the driveway to the neighborhood to busy streets and parking lots. Wherever you see a child bicyclist, SLOW DOWN and MAKE SURE that the child is not put in harm’s way.   Safety awareness and attention are keys to protecting our children in the community who are bicyclists / cyclists.

If a child bicyclist is hit by a motor vehicle while riding a bicycle, the family of the child can pursue a legal case or claim on behalf of the injured child.   There are four essential elements to prove in a Florida Bicycle Injury Case as follows:

1. Duty;

orlando-vector-doodle_GJ7pbFLO_LWalt Disney World Orlando advertises itself as one of the “Happiest Places on Earth”.  For millions of visitors every year, it is quite a happy and joyful place filled with rides, cartoon characters, and adventures; however, for many children and their families, Walt Disney World Orlando happens to be a placed filled with horrific memories, significant personal injuries, tragedy, and even the untimely and wrongful death of a visitor from children to teens to adults. Certainly, Walt Disney World Orlando welcomes children and families to its many theme parks, attractions, resorts, and hotels.  As such, it is important that Walt Disney World Orlando provide a safe and well maintained environment with the full knowledge that every day families and young children will be on the premises.   This duty extends to all areas of the park and resorts including but not limited to the attractions, rides, restaurants, hotels, lobby areas, swimming pool areas, recreation areas, and yes, the other aquatic areas whether man-made or natural in the form of lakes, ponds, canals, lagoons, and other areas.   It is incumbent upon Walt Disney World Orlando to patrol the areas, maintain the areas, clean up the areas, and post prominent signage about potential dangers that may include those related to electrical and wildlife.  If an area has the potential for significant injury or death, this particular area should either be closed off, modified, and / or posted with prominent signage.

A recent incident at Walt Disney World Orlando left a family and community in shock when an alligator from the Seven Seas Lagoon lunged out of the water and grabbed a 2 year old who was standing in or near the water with his father.  The boy, who was vacationing with his family from Nebraska, was attacked by the alligator.  While the father tried to do his best to stop the attack and save his son, he was unable to do so.  It was reported that there were signs in the area that advised visitors about the designation of a “No Swimming” area.  There may not have been any warnings or signage about the presence of dangerous wildlife including but not limited to alligators.  Certainly, this incident was and is a complete and utter nightmare for the family visiting the “Magic Kingdom” from Nebraska.  The incident was immediately reported to Walt Disney World Orlando officials, resort staff and management, local law enforcement, and Florida Wildlife Law Enforcement officers.  You can read more about this tragedy at KETV Omaha, Nebraska – Alligator Attacks and Drags 2 Year Old Nebraska Boy at Walt Disney World Orland Resort – Seven Seas Lagoon. 

The injury and / or wrongful of a child is a harrowing experience.  Certainly, as parents, we work day and night to provide for our children’s safety, health, and welfare.  When a child is injured or when a child dies as a result of the negligence of another person, business entity, or government entity, a parent is faced with a number of life, medical, and legal challenges. Certainly, it is important that these trying times to be supported by family members, friends, community, medical professionals, clergy, community, and, yes, when necessary an experienced and caring Florida Child Injury Lawyer.  Big businesses are supported day / night by in-house and retained legal counsel essentially on a 24 / 7 basis. There are risk management and insurance risk management adjuster in place to advise and protect the companies.  As such, injury victims and their families also deserve legal representation to make that legal rights are protected, enforced, and preserved as needed especially in the aftermath of significant personal injuries and /or wrongful death.

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.

Carousel Personal InjuryEvery year, millions of children visit Florida theme parks, water parks, amusement parks, and attractions. For most people, the experience is a positive one and often leads to memories that last a lifetime. Unfortunately for some children,  water parks and theme parks are also the sites of serious personal injuries. Some children even die while visiting a theme park, amusement park, attraction, or water park.  What are the legal rights of the child or family of a child when there is an injury to a child at one of these Florida vacation spots or attractions?  It should be noted that theme parks, property owners, management companies, and tenants are not absolute insurers of the safety of a child.  In other words, just becase an injury takes place on premises does not mean that the owner, operator, or management company is liable for the injury sustained by the child. Each case should be should be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.
Here are some questions arise when a child suffers personal injuries at a  theme park, attraction, amusement park, or water park.
What were the circumstances leading to the injury?

Scales of Justice - Yellow and BlueIn Florida, cases handled on behalf of minor children for personal injuries are subject to certain laws, rules, and regulations. The overall purpose of these laws is to protect the financial interests of child. It is important that the attorney / lawyer handling a child injury case be experienced and knowledgeable about the Florida law and to make sure that all laws, procedures, and practices are followed in order to act in the best interest of the minor child.   When handling a case on behalf of a minor child, there should be a high level of advocacy and protection kept in mind at all times to enforce and protect the legal rights of the injured child.
If a tentative settlement is reached on behalf of a minor child, court approval will be required if the settlement exceeds $15,000.  This is the law in Florida pursuant to Section 744.301, Florida Statutes and Section 744.3025, Florida Statutes.  If the child will receive a net settlement in excess of $15,000 – then the court will require a guardianship of the property in order to safeguard  and secure the funds.   The funds for this guardianship will then need to be held in a restricted depository.  No funds can be withdraw from this account without court order.  It should be noted that the settlement funds belong to the child and not the parent.  Settlement funds are not in place to pay rent, car payments, grocery bills, . . . .  
These are ordinary expenses that a parent has a duty to pay.   The funds are for extraordinary expenses like unexpected medical bills, tutoring, etc. . . Even for these extraordinary expenses, a court order will be required to access any funds from the guardianship restricted account.   Ideally, the funds are not spent or used during the child’s minority and at the age of 18 – the child will have some funds to purchase a vehicle, pay for college, or otherwise use the funds as he or she deems fit.  Again, the settlement funds belong to the child and not the parent. 

Wrongful Death Book Cover.001When a child is born, parents have the dream and expectation that the child will live a long and successful life.  Of course, it is impossible to either predict or control the future; however, with good parenting and a motivated child, success and a good life are certainable attainable.  The dream, of course, can be shattered by unexpected events and tragedies like a Florida Automobile Accident.  Children can be seen travelling as passengers in vehicles in every community.  Most of us have seen the signs or bumper stickers on cars that state “Baby On Board”.  This is a message to remind other drivers to drive with due caution and at a safe speed.   Of course, all drivers should be attentive to road conditions, traffic, and other vehicles.  In the flash of a moment, a crash can take place.  It can be because of excessive speed, carelessness, distracted driving, and other reasons.  Whatever the reason, when a crash takes place, children can and do suffer personal injuries.  Many children tragically die as a result of Florida Automobile Accidents.
When a child dies a result of an automobile accident, a parent can pursue a cause of action pursuant to the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  There are special provisions in the Florida Statutes and case law that apply to the death of a child.  A parent can bring an action for the wrongful death of a child and seek damages for the loss of the child including loss of services, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.  It should be pointed out that while the child’s suffering is germaine to the case – it is the loss of the parent that matters.  If the parent had a close relationship with the child, that will be taken into consideration when pursuing the case.  Is there really any form of compensation that will fairly compensate a parent for the untimely and preventable death of a child?  This is, of course, a loaded question of sorts.  However, the pursuit of a civil case for the wrongful death of a child does come down to money or compensation.  At some point in the case, the issue of compensation will be discussed.  If a settlement can be worked out, then the case can resolve without having to go through the stress of a trial; however, if a settlement cannot be reached, a parent can seek recourse / compensation through a trial.  As a Child Injury Lawyer, I am asked if other family members can also seek compensation like a brother or sister.  The simple answer is No.  The parents are the statutory survivors of a minor child.   There are circumstances where the minor child,  which is defined as a child under the age of 25 years old, has a child.   Under these circumstances, a wrongful death case can be pursued on behalf of the surviving parent and the surviving offspring of the minor child.  The Florida Wrongful Death Act is not a voluminous law by any means but there are some twists and turns to the statute.  As such, it makese sense for parents to seek the advice, counsel, and legal representation from a Florida Child Injury Lawyer when dealing with the aftermath of the death of a child.
The book titled – When a Parent’s World Goes From Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of Child – What You Need to Know About the Florida Wrongful Death Act – covers general provisions of the statute, the pursuit of a wrongful death case, the assessment of damages, and other matters. You can get this book for free at When a Parent’s World Goes From Full to Empty.

bicycle tricycle purple on white background
In Middleburg, Florida and other Florida communities, there are bicyclists on and near the roads on a daily basis throughout the year.  All drivers should proceed with caution any time that a child is on or near the roadway as a bicyclist or a pedestrian.  When a child suffers serious personal injuries or dies as a result of a bicycle accident or incident, there are a number of issues that can be involved with the aftermath of such a tragedy.  In Florida, legal cases involving children are handled differently than legal cases on behalf of adults.   Because of this, it is important that a parent seek legal counsel from an experienced Florida Child Injury Lawyer.  Here are some of the issues or questions that arise when a child suffers injuries as a result of a bicycle accident:

Was the accident avoidable on the part of the driver?

Did the driver have the opportunity to see the child bicyclist prior to the bicycle accident?