Children may not always be aware of their surroundings, but that doesn’t waive property owners of liability if kids end up getting hurt on their premises. If your son or daughter sustained serious injuries on someone else’s property, your family may be entitled to compensation for all associated damages.
In order to pursue a payout, though, you must put together a strong claim, which requires sufficient evidence of liability, causation, and damages. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about building a case so you can enter the proceedings with confidence:
1. When a Child Gets Hurt on Private Property, Who Is Liable?
There are countless ways for children to get hurt on private property, which encompasses land and structures owned by individuals and businesses. They could slip on a spill at the grocery store, for example, or trip over an unmarked threshold at your friend’s apartment complex.
Since those who own private property may use, occupy, or lease the premises, there are a number of parties that could be liable in the event of an accident. Whether the owner, occupier, or maintenance contractor is responsible for your child’s injuries will ultimately depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident.
If determining whom you should name in your claim sounds overwhelming, don’t worry; a resourceful premises liability attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to identify all those parties whom you may be able to hold financially accountable.
2. When a Child Gets Hurt on Public Property, Who Is Liable?
Public property encompasses land and structures that are owned and operated by federal, state, and local government agencies. Examples include parks, offices, and medical facilities.
If your child was hurt on public property, your family may still be entitled to seek compensation for the resulting damages; however, you may face a few extra hurdles along the way. Generally speaking, suing a government agency is inherently more complicated than going up against a private individual or corporation.
You will have to submit an administrative claim within just six months, for example, and then you will have to wait up to 45 days for a response. If the government denies your claim, you will have six months from the date on which you received the rejection letter to file a formal lawsuit.
3. Can I Bring a Claim If My Child Was Trespassing?
Property owners and occupiers owe a duty of care to both invitees and licensees who lawfully enter their premises. In many states, they also owe a duty of care to trespassing children. California is unique, however, in that it no longer has an attractive nuisance doctrine. An attractive nuisance is a feature that’s likely to draw children onto the property, regardless of whether they actually have permission to enter the premises. Some of the most common attractive nuisances include trampolines, swimming pools, and jungle gyms.
Whereas property owners in some other states must take reasonable measures to keep children—including those who are trespassing—safe from attractive nuisances, those in California have no such duty; however, they are still expected to maintain their property to a reasonably safe standard. They also have an obligation to warn licensees and invitees of dangers on the premises that may not be immediately obvious.
If your child was not supposed to be on the property when he or she was hurt, that doesn’t automatically bar your family from taking action. It could, however, make it considerably harder to prove liability.
4. How Long Do Parents Have to File the Lawsuit?
In California, the standard statute of limitations for personal injury suits against private parties is two years. For claims involving injuries to minors, though, there is a major exception to this deadline.
As a general rule, the statute of limitations does not start until the injured party turns 18. That means your family may have until your child’s 20th birthday to file a formal lawsuit.
5. What Kinds of Damages Can Parents Seek If Their Children Are Hurt on Someone Else’s Property?
By filing a premises liability claim, your family may pursue compensation for your child’s medical bills, ongoing rehabilitation, and home care. If he or she sustained any permanent disabilities, you may also be entitled to funds for reasonably necessary home and vehicle modifications to accommodate the associated limitations.
Your son or daughter may be compensated for his or her loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and pain and suffering, as well. And if he or she will be unable to enter the workforce and earn a living wage as a result of the injuries, you may also account for loss of future earnings when estimating a fair payout.
6. When Should Parents Call a Personal Injury Attorney?
Since you may have until your child’s 20th birthday to take action, it’s easy to postpone calling an attorney. It’s advisable, however, to seek legal counsel as soon as your son or daughter’s condition stabilizes.
Enlisting help right away will give your legal team the chance to obtain time-sensitive evidence while it’s still available, like surveillance footage. It will also prevent you from making critical mistakes early in the proceedings that might jeopardize your case down the road, like posting about the accident on social media, giving the insurer a recorded statement, or failing to mitigate damages.
Call (562) 206-1939 to Discuss Your Case with a Long Beach Premises Liability Attorney
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If your child was hurt on someone else’s property, turn to the Law Office of Michael D. Waks to determine the best way to proceed. Michael D. Waks has been representing the injured and their families for more than 30 years and is dedicated to getting clients the results they deserve. Call (562) 206-1939 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a premises liability lawyer in Long Beach.
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