Articles Posted in Child Injury

In a recent opinion, the Indiana Supreme Court recently carved out an exception to the state’s longstanding negligent infliction of emotional distress rule. The change allows the parents of children who experienced sexual abuse by a caretaker to pursue emotional distress damages. According to the record, a mother filed a lawsuit against a school district after learning that an instructional assistant was abusing the woman’s profoundly disabled daughter. The woman filed a civil lawsuit alleging that she experienced emotional distress after the discovery. A lower court dismissed the claim based on the state’s archaic law that limits these damages to those who witness the injury or death of a loved one. While an appeals court permitted the economic damages to claim, they refused to expand the state’s law to allow the emotional distress claim.

Historically, the bystander rule for negligent infliction of emotional distress allowed recovery to those who experienced distress from witnessing a close family member’s sudden and unexpected death by the at-fault party. The Court loosened the rules in 2000, allowing lawsuits if a person observed the injury or death of family or its “gruesome aftermath.”

In this groundbreaking Indiana case, the Court held that the school owed a duty of care to the woman as a parent of a child at their school. The assistant confessed and pleaded guilty; however, the mother did not discover the abuse until after the confession. At which point, the mother suffered emotional distress, which included bouts of anger and the inability to control her emotions.

When a person is injured and suffers injuries because of another’s negligence, state law allows the injured party to file an Indiana personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. In instances where the injury occurred because of a government employee’s negligence or on government property, injury victims must deal with additional procedural hurdles. The Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA), identifies regulations that apply to individuals who seek compensation from the government. Indiana injury victims must submit a notice of the claim to Indiana city and county governments within 180 days from the date of their injury, and within 270 days if the claim is against the state.

Typically, the ITCA, allows injury victims to sue the government if the claim involves injuries from incidents such as medical malpractice from government health care providers, hazardous conditions at government buildings, motor vehicle accidents with government-owned cars, and other damages because of the government’s negligence.

For example, recently, the 7th Circuit issued an opinion stemming from an accident that occurred at a public swimming pond. In that case, a young girl visited a public swimming pond with her family when she ventured to the deep end and drowned. The public swimming pond was cordoned off by zones and monitored by lifeguards. However, despite these precautions, the young girl’s submersion went unnoticed.

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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