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Is there a Difference in the Law for Child Injury Cases?

Jul 16 2020

Typically, child injury cases are analyzed using the same legal rules as any other case. When determining liability for an accident, a lawyer will need to analyze what actions led up to the incident, which can help identify who is liable for any injuries. When children are involved, the analysis is much the same.

However, there are a few differences in the law involving personal injuries and children. Our personal injury lawyers in New York City are happy to meet for a free consultation.

Generally, the Law is the Same

A person or entity is usually liable for an accident when they were negligent. This means they did not act with sufficient care, even though they knew their actions could injure someone. A classic example is a driver who is careless or distracted and hits another vehicle on the road. This driver has been negligent and is usually liable for the crash.

If a child was injured, then liability applies the same way. A child might be riding a bicycle when she is hit by a passing vehicle. The analysis is whether the driver was sufficiently careful.

A Key Difference: Contributory Negligence

In some accidents, the victim might have made some error that contributes to their injuries. This is called contributory negligence. Under our law, contributory negligence doesn't bar a lawsuit, but it can reduce the amount of compensation a child receives. The rule on comparative negligence is found in Section 1411 of the New York Civil Practice Law.

Contributory negligence involving children is complicated. Under our law, children under four years old cannot be negligent. This means that they cannot contribute to their own injuries by being careless.

If the child is over four, then our legal decisions state that there is no bright line rule. Instead, the child is held to the standard of care of a child of the same age, intelligence, and experience. Typically, this means younger children do not need to be as careful as adults. However, a lot of disputes can break out concerning just how careful a child should be.

The results can be significant. Remember, the amount a child can recover in compensation might be reduced by his or her negligence. If a 10-year-old is riding a bicycle dangerously close to the road, then his or her conduct could be considered negligent—or not. An advocate makes a big difference in these cases.

The Statutes of Limitations & Children

The statute of limitations lays out the maximum amount of time a victim has to bring a lawsuit. If the victim waits too long—even one day too long—they lose the ability to sue.

When the victim is a child, then sometimes a different statute of limitations applies. This is particularly true in medical malpractice cases. Generally, a patient has 2.5 years to bring a lawsuit for medical malpractice. However, if the child was injured, then the clock does not start running until they reach 18, so long as they were injured in the past ten years. So a minor injured at 16 has until they are 20.5 years old.

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in New York City

Cases involving children sometimes raise novel legal issues. It is best to have an attorney with deep experience representing their interests. Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman has the skills and depth of experience necessary to represent your child's best interests.

For help, contact us today at 212-285-3300 to schedule a free consultation.