Articles Posted in Child Injury

Recently, the Indiana Supreme Court released an opinion in a case involving the devastating murder of a student after he left school grounds without permission. The case illustrates important concepts of government liability and comparative fault, both of which are frequently at issue in Indiana personal injury lawsuits.

According to the court’s opinion, the young man’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Indiana school district, claiming that the school was responsible because it did not ensure that the young man stayed on school grounds. Reports indicated that the young man was frequently truant, and on the day of the murder, he came to school late and subsequently left through an unsecured exit while school was still in session. It is unclear why the student left school, but there was evidence to suggest that the young man left to engage in unlawful activities. Tragically, he was shot and murdered shortly after he left school.

The family’s lawsuit alleged that the school was responsible for the wrongful death of the young man because they did not adequately supervise the student during school hours. In response, the school district moved to dismiss the claim based on the Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA) as well as the doctrine of contributory negligence. The appeals court found that there were issues of material fact regarding whether the student was contributorily negligent in his death.

Nothing is more devastating than the loss of a child, especially when it occurs because of another person’s negligence, or the failure to use reasonable care. 

Recently, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that Indiana’s Child Wrongful Death Statute, Indiana Code 34-23-2-1, allows for attorney fees and litigation expenses. This was an issue of first impression for the court and important to plaintiffs for two reasons:

  • When attorney’s fees are awarded in addition to the damages award, it means more money goes directly to the plaintiffs, as opposed to attorneys receiving a cut of that damages award. Generally, attorneys in wrongful death or personal injury lawsuits are paid on a contingency fee basis, taking no money upfront but instead accepting a pre-determined portion of the damages if and when the plaintiff wins. If a defendant is ordered to pay those fees separate and apart from the plaintiff’s damages award, the plaintiff is able to keep the full damages they were awarded.

For millennials, out-of-wedlock birth is often the norm. A number of studies have revealed that 64 percent of mothers give birth at least once without exchanging vows. Among women under 30, more than half have had births outside of marriage. And nearly half of all mothers have children without ever saying, “I do.” 

This is not to say that fathers aren’t a part of the children’s lives, but the parents are not in a marital relationship. Even if this has no bearing on the relationship parent has with child, it may have implications for the child’s financial stability.

IC 31-14 sets forth laws regarding establishment of paternity, including methods, persons permitted to file, venue and other provisions. IC 31-14-5-3 spells out some of limitations on paternity actions.

Essentially, both parents, if unmarried have three days after the child is born to establish paternity at the hospital via paternity affidavit. If mother is married, husband is presumed to be the father. A man will also be presumed the father if mother has been divorced or widowed less than 10 months. Otherwise, mother or father will have to go through additional administrative steps – and possibly the courts. Continue reading

Fall is about to arrive in Northwest Indiana and the Chicago Area.  I have previously blogged concerning safety tips for bicyclists and believe that with the change in seasons that this is a good time to do so, once again.  Those of us who are bicyclists need to take extra precautions as daylight decreases and the need to be observant and observed increases.

In fact, a study published tin the September 1, 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and cited in a recent Science Daily posting indicates that bicycle injuries during the 15 year period from 1998 through 2013 increased substantially. Continue reading

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking to better protect your child in the event of an accident. Officials recently proposed upgrades to the current vehicle safety standards regarding child-restraint systems. The new measures would, for the first time, test their efficiency in side-impact tests for seats that carry children weighing up to 40 pounds.

“As a father of two, I know the peace of mind this proposed test will give parents,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Our child injury lawyers in Highland understand that car seats are a child’s best defense against injury and death in the event of a motor vehicle collision. It’s not only critical that parents are selecting the proper seat for their child and that it’s being used correctly, but that manufacturers are making these seats to be as safe as possible. With this new testing system, we’ll be able to know just how safe they are when it comes to side-impact collisions.
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Our kids spend more than a quarter of their waking hours at school, or commuting back and forth. We expect that when we send them there, they will be safe and protected.

Sadly, this is not always true. A recent report indicated that one out of every 14 students this year will suffer some type of unintentional yet temporarily debilitating injury while at or commuting to school. That’s approximately two children per classroom, and runs the gamut of everything from a school bus crash to a concussion during gym.

Another recent study, this one conducted by researchers with the Brown University Alpert Medical School and published in the journal Pediatrics, indicates that some 90,000 children are treated in emergency rooms across the country for violent acts that occur at school.
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Most people think of Halloween as a time for fun and treats. However, about four times as many children aged 5-14 are killed while walking on Halloween night compared with other night of the year. And falls are a leading cause of injuries among children on this spooky holiday.

Many Halloween-related injuries can be prevented if parents closely supervise school-aged children during trick-or-treat activities.

According to Indiana State Police (ISP), many communities, schools and churches offer children safe alternatives to trick-or-treating designed to keep children safely within parents’ view. Some hospitals and schools allow children to trick-or-treat by going from room to room virtually eliminating the dangers associated with being out walking on the street after dark.

Our Highland injury lawyers understand that each year at Halloween, young children are at greatest risk. Accidents occur, sometimes as a result of strangers, but often through the carelessness of parents. That’s why we’re here, with officials with the ISP to help to ensure that everyone has a safe Hallow’s Eve.
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In a recent school bus accident on the Indianapolis’ Eastside, several Washington Irving Elementary School students were sent to the hospital. According to JC Online, the accident happened in the 800 block of North Rural Street at roughly 5:30 p.m. Eight people were taken to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health to be evaluated.

Some parents of students in the accident claim Indianapolis Public Schools failed to ever notify them of the accident. One parent said that she learned that her son was already in the hospital after she heard from a parent who had passed the accident scene. Another mother said two of her sons were taken to the hospital, but her third son rode home on another bus.

Our child injury lawyers understand that parents and guardians send their children on the bus each day to school expecting them to get to and from class safely. When there’s a problem — we want to know about it. We’re all well aware of the fact that school bus accidents can happen, we just expect the school district to head off the accidents as much as possible by taking the proper precautions, and to get in touch with us if an accident occurs.
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The school bell is about to ring, and students across the state will be back to studying and homework. But they’re also back to increased risks for pedestrian accidents. During the first month of every school year, we see a significant increase in injury and a significant increase in the number of pedestrian accidents.And that’s why we have the Indiana Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program. According to the Indiana Department of Transportation that was created to make walking and biking to school safe and routine.

Our Highland child injury lawyers understand that oftentimes children don’t understand all of the dangerous associated with walking near traffic. This is why it’s imperative for parents to step up and to address pedestrian safety. In 2010, nearly one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes was a pedestrian, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of death in the United States for children between 5- and 14-years-old. Teenagers are also at greatest risk. Teenagers have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian injuries in the past five years.

Before the big first day, share these safety tips with the young pedestrians in your family:

-Talk with your children about how to be safe while walking.

-Make sure you plan out a route for your child to take to and from school. This route should be along less-traveled roadways and it should be equipped with sidewalks as well as safe intersections.

-It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

-Make sure that children always cross at an intersection. Accidents are more likely to happen at non-intersection areas.

-Before children step onto the pavement, teach them to look left and right for oncoming traffic. Teach them to keep looking left and right as they cross the road for any surprise dangers.

-Make sure your child crosses the road with their headphones off. Pedestrians can use their hearing to help to avoid an accident.

-Try to make eye contact with drivers when crossing the road. Just because you can see them, doesn’t always mean they can see you.

-If a child needs to use a cell phone, make sure they know to come to a complete stop on the side of the road before using it.

-Have your child walk with a group of kids from the neighborhood who go to the same school. Safety in numbers largely applies to pedestrians.

-Get out there and walk with them before the big day. Show your children how to walk safely.
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So far this year, there have been at least 8 children who have died from heatstroke after being left in hot vehicles. According to CNN Money, most of these children were infants and toddlers under the age of 2.”We want to reduce the risk of these preventable deaths and help caregivers avoid accidentally harming a child, as well as address some of the misconceptions about the causes of child heatstroke in cars,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) David Strickland.

Our Highland accident attorneys understand that these kinds of accidents can happen to anyone — even the most loving and conscientious parents. We also understand that we’re seeing temperatures in the 80s during this time of year, which serves up some serious risks. Consider this a reminder to be alert and aware when exiting your vehicle to help ensure that one of these incidents doesn’t happen to you.

Within these eight fatalities recorded around the nation for 2013, seven of them happened in the month of May, which is usually when we see a spike in these numbers.

“It has everything to do with our brains letting us down at the worst possible moment,” said Janette Fennell with KidsAndCars.org.

Since 1998, there have been more than 565 children killed after being left in a vehicle in the U.S. On average, about 38 children are killed in these kinds of accidents each and every year. The risks for these incidents typically start to rise in May, which then we see an average of about four fatalities a month.

More than half of heatstroke deaths occurred when a distracted caregiver forgot a quiet child was in the vehicle.

But there are things that you can do to help to prevent these kinds of accidents:

-Make sure you check your entire vehicle before getting out and locking it up. Set something in the front seat, like a teddy bear or a picture, to help to remind you to do this.

-Consider keeping something important, like a purse or a wallet, in the backseat. This is going to help to force you to go into the back seat before leaving your vehicle.

-Teach your children that cars are not play areas. Never allow a child to play near a vehicle unattended.

-Talk with friends, family members, babysitters and other caregivers about these safety tips.

-Never leave your child alone in a vehicle for any amount of time, not matter how short it is. Never leave them in the vehicle even if you’re only “running in for a minute.” The temperature inside the vehicle can reach deadly levels in just 10 minutes.

-If you see a child that is alone in a vehicle, call 9-1-1 immediately. Try to get the child out as quickly as you can. Then undress them and lay them down in a cool area. If you’re outside in the sun, find some shade, but if at all possible, move him into a cool room.
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