Any accident becomes more tragic when it involves a child. Kids are so much more vulnerable than adults. Not only do they tend to suffer more physical damage in accidents, but unlike adults, they simply aren’t as good at recognizing and avoiding potential dangers.
Take a recent story from Coral Springs.
On Valentine’s Day, a 6-year-old was leaving school and ran behind a turning car. The driver did not see the child and hit them. While the child did not appear to suffer life-threatening injuries, they still needed to be airlifted to Broward General as a level 2 trauma case.
Airlifting a child and treating traumatic injuries is not only emotionally taxing for parents, it can also put a big hole in their wallets. Unfortunately, child injuries and accidents aren’t always cut-and-dried affairs when it comes to filing claims and getting compensation. Many times, an attempt is made to place blame on the child – leaving the parents high and dry. While it true that PIP coverage can apply to pedestrian accidents as well as situations where all participants are in vehicles, in truly serious cases PIP likely won’t be enough.
Once PIP has reached its limit, victims will have to take legal action in order to get compensation. In these cases, the rules of comparative negligence kick in, and questions about how much “fault” the child has for the accident come into play.
What If the Child Had a Hand in Getting Hurt?
In these types of cases, it is not uncommon for a plaintiff to try to turn the tables and blame the victim for the accident. What happens in these types of situations? Basically, if a judge or jury finds the plaintiff at fault for any part of the accident, they will not get all of the compensation they ask for.
Arguing that the child is to blame is easier than you may think. Let’s go back to the case in Coral Springs. The child ran out behind the turning car. The driver legitimately could not see them while they were backing out.
In cases that involve a driver and pedestrian, the pedestrian can be found partially “at-fault” if they engage in any of the following before the accident:
- Walking in the road without the right of way
- Walking or running into traffic or in front of a vehicle
- Failing to use a marked crosswalk
These factors may not be strong enough to completely turn the tables on the case, but they can reduce the amount of compensation awarded if the victim is found to be partially at-fault. For example, if you sue a driver for $20,000 because they hit your child and the child is found to be 50 percent at-fault, you will only receive $10,000 if you win your case.
Kids Are Not Held to the Same Standards as Adults
Parents of an injured child should not hold off on filing a personal injury lawsuit out of fear that their child will be held liable, though. Even if it is ruled that they are partially at fault, you will still receive some compensation if you win, and that can go a long way towards helping your family to recover.
Moreover, the simple fact of the matter is that children do not bear the same responsibilities and legal standards that an adult does – especially if he or she is young. The defendant may argue that your child caused the accident, but they still have to prove it – and they have to do so using standards that are appropriate to hold the child to.
If your child has been hit by a driver, you owe it to yourself, the child, and your family to contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer and fight to get the compensation that you need and deserve.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.