Child Injuries Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, we prefer to bring a case not long after the incident because witnesses’ memories are sharper and deeper and they are not as likely to have moved away. In addition, we want all the evidence to be as fresh as possible. Over time evidence can get lost or degrade. Nothing good comes from delaying the bringing of a lawsuit. That is one important reason our justice system imposes statutes of limitation. Florida child injury attorneys do not want to go to trial in the pursuit of justice if the evidence is low quality and witnesses’ memories are fuzzy.
Not at this time. The judges that rule on Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) cases have ruled that there is no evidence that the MMR vaccine or other Thimerosal-containing vaccines can cause autism. However, that case is being appealed. If you wish to pursue your vaccine-related autism injury claim, you should know that the presence of thimerosal in the Hep B, HiB, and/or DTaP vaccines is essential to prove that these vaccines caused symptoms on the autism spectrum and makers of these vaccines claim to have ceased using thimerosal in vaccines produced after 1999.
While each injury is unique and different, the most recent research (2007) indicates that brain injuries can have effects lasting more than two years in children. Unfortunately, some traumatic brain injuries are permanent and can even cause death. The precise duration of your child can be expected to suffer from symptoms of a traumatic brain injury depends on several factors. Two important factors are the child’s age and the severity of the injury. Younger children suffer from symptoms of traumatic brain injury for a longer time on average than older children. The reason is that younger children have more developing to do than older children. A young brain that is injured is forced to do two things at once: heal and grow. Brain growth is substantial during a child’s younger years. An injured brain that still has to grow usually heals more slowly than a brain that is not devoting as many resources to grow. Naturally, more severe injuries take longer to heal. However, even moderate brain injuries can take as long to heal as severe brain injuries. A 2007 UCLA study measured the recoveries of child victims of traumatic brain injury. Researchers categorized the injuries as mild, moderate or severe based on the Glasgow Coma Scale which doctors use to determine the severity of brain injuries. The disappointing results showed that moderate brain injury victims required almost the same recovery time as severe brain injury victims – about two years. Child victims of moderate brain injury experienced some recovery of intellectual functioning and attention span, but the neuro-cognitive damage persisted about 24 months. Child victims of severe brain injury experienced significant IQ, attention, verbal memory and processing speed impairment. Traumatic brain injury is the number one cause of death and disability for children.
Statistically speaking, your children are at high risk for suffering from child abuse and more specifically shaken baby syndrome, otherwise known as abusive head trauma. The most common perpetrator of the shaken baby syndrome is a mother’s boyfriend. I don’t know yours and am not telling you he’s going to injure your children, but statistically speaking, you’re in a high-risk situation. The usual scenario involves stressed and overwhelmed caregivers. It’s absolutely normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed as a parent or as the caregiver to a child. However, some responses to that stress are dangerous. If an adult loses his or her temper, child abuse can occur. Some people don’t know that it’s dangerous to shake a baby. Unfortunately, the resulting injury can quiet the baby and the adult may begin to think that’s what the baby wants. You need to make a personal plan to prevent child abuse both in your home and at daycare. The basics are very important. Ensure that your children are comfortable, fed and have dry diapers. A content baby is much less likely to cause adults to lose their temper. Sometimes the basics aren’t enough though. Make sure your child is not ill or feverish. If she is not, put her in a safe place, like a crib, and take a break. It’s ok to take five when you’re stressed out. Just make sure your child is safe first. Child abuse prevention involves planning to manage any stress that your child induces in you or her caregivers. Make that plan (whether it involves taking a break or doing breathing or visualization exercises) and share it with your family, boyfriend and other caregivers.
Yes, every parent of an injured child should take measures to protect the childs settlement or judgment funds. If you pre-decease your child while they are still very young or if your child is brain-injured, they will have a decreased capacity to manage the money wisely. To protect the funds, your injured child’s attorney should consult with structured settlement specialists, probate lawyers and special needs trust professionals.
You are likely only liable if you failed to construct and maintain the playset in a reasonably safe condition. Make sure you follow the instructions carefully, that no screws or nails are loose or exposed and that no other dangerous conditions exist, hidden or not. A good idea is to install a shock-absorbing pad under the playset. They reduce the risk of injury and demonstrate you took measures to ensure the safety of the playset. If the playset is in reasonably safe condition with no hidden dangers, you do not need to worry about unsupervised kids hurting themselves. Even in Florida, where we have the “attractive nuisance doctrine,” you are not legally liable unless you knew or should have known that the playset presented an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to the trespassing children. You will want to consult your homeowner’s insurance policy if any child is injured on your playset because your policy may cover some of the child’s medical bills under the medical payments portion of the policy. On the other hand, if you were considering installing a swimming pool, you may be required to conform to city codes and ordinances. Check your local laws before making any decisions. Also, watch this child injury lawyer video on preventing child drownings.
No. The Florida Bar prohibits any lawyer from guaranteeing results. The fact is, the unpredictability of our jury system means we could not guarantee results even if we were allowed to. In addition to juries’ unpredictability, medical malpractice cases are the second most difficult type of case to win. Studies show that only 20-38 percent of medical malpractice cases are won by the injured victim. Only products liability cases are more difficult to win. Add to that difficulty the high cost of litigating a medical injury case and the artificial limits on recovery that the Florida Legislature has imposed on medical malpractice victims and you will understand why the majority of medical injury cases are never accepted by an attorney. Zimmet & Zimmet accepts very few medical injury cases each year for that reason. Even in situation of clear liability, the high cost and risk of litigation deter us from taking almost all cases except for catastrophic injuries. So to answer your question, even if your child is one of the few that we agree to represent each year, we still cannot guarantee she will receive any money. Not only are medical malpractice cases some of the riskiest to litigate, but even if you win, we may still not be able to collect the money from the defendant. A four-year study of states including Florida found that more than half of all medical malpractice cases won by the injured victim conclude with no compensation to the claimant at all.
Since 1997, yes. That is the year the Florida Supreme Court ruled that although parents can not sue for the child’s death under the Wrongful Death Statute because a fetus does not qualify as a “person” under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, parents of a stillborn child can sue for emotional damages from the baby’s death as well as the medical expenses from the pregnancy. In that case, doctors examined the mother and instructed her to go to the hospital for testing. She did, but the next morning her baby was delivered at the hospital stillborn. The parents claimed the hospital doctors and staff were negligent because they should have delivered the child in an emergency c-section the day before when the test results were obtained.
Not initially. In most instances, you must first file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). If the inoculation that caused your child’s injury is not on the list of vaccines covered by the VICP, then you may immediately sue the vaccine manufacturer. If the vaccine is covered by the VICP, then you must proceed with your claim within the Federal Claims Court that hears all VICP claims. If the court rules against you or dismisses your vaccine injury claim, then you may sue the vaccine maker directly. If the court rules in your favor and awards you compensations for your child’s vaccine-related injury, you can still elect to sue the vaccine maker if you reject the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program’s award of benefits.
Recent medical developments have found that CT scans are overused on children with head injuries. For children with non-severe head injuries, the risk that they will develop brain cancer from the CT radiation exposure is greater than their risk of serious brain trauma. New guidelines indicate when a child with head trauma should receive a CT scan. Doctors are instructed to observe whether certain factors are present or not before deciding to order a CT scan. Those factors include obvious signs of skull fracture, change in behavior, swelling in the head, whether and to what degree the child lost consciousness, and the way the child sustained her head injury.
Maybe. If Florida’s NICA plan covers your case, you cannot file a negligence claim against a doctor or other medical provider. Florida law now says that NICA covers injuries sustained in the “immediate postdelivery period in a hospital.” The question is how many hours, minutes or days after delivery is considered the “immediate postdelivery period?” Court cases have ruled that even that depends on the child’s condition. If the child is delivered with a life-threatening condition and does not stabilize before suffering a neurological injury, then the immediate postdelivery period includes an “extended period of days.” At least one case has considered that period to be seven days.
No. That standard is used only in criminal cases. We will help you prove who by a “preponderance of the evidence” who shook the baby in shaken baby syndrome cases. In more understandable terms, a preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that the defendant is the person who shook the baby and caused the baby’s injuries. Although you may be unsuccessful in prosecuting a criminal case because the district attorney or prosecutor may decide they do not have enough proof to fulfill the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, the law firm of Zimmet & Zimmet has more than 40 years of combined experience in civil actions involving cases with limited evidence. Civil actions provide you with more flexibility and an opportunity to prove your case. We can operate in areas of the law that prosecutors and district attorneys can not. For example, they can not call any witnesses besides the medical examiner, doctor or coroner who saw the child in their attempt to prove the exact time the child’s injury occurred. On the other hand, we can hire nationally recognized doctors and other experts to prove the injury’s timing.
Most likely, but it depends. We have received this question frequently lately as a result of news stories on the topic. One Florida man was charged with felony child neglect for leaving his 5-year-old son in a locked vehicle with the windows rolled up in 90 degree weather for about an hour while he shopped at Wal-Mart. Another boy died on what was to be his mother’s wedding day after she left him in her car for three hours while she was in a nail salon. Leaving a child alone and unsupervised in a car will often be considered criminal child abuse. However, if you put your child in her car seat with the windows rolled down while you water your shrubs for a while, that begins to look a lot less like child abuse.
Past data indicates that school buses are up to 12 times safer than cars, trucks, and motorcycles for children traveling to school. Traveling to school in any type of vehicle other than a school bus puts students at a greater risk for traffic injuries of fatalities. Recent statistics support that past data. In the 2007-2008 school year, many more children died in car, truck and motorcycle accidents during the before and after-school commute than in school bus accidents. Only six children died in school bus crashes that year whereas 368 died in other passenger vehicle wrecks during those same commuting hours. In the last 10 years, 34 children died in school bus accidents whereas 5,595 died in other passenger car wrecks during school commuting hours. Students traveling to school by bicycle and on foot are also at greater risk for injury and death than children on school buses. In the last 10 years, 936 children bicycling or walking to school have died in traffic accidents. Not all accidents are fatal, they can cause a range of injuries such as trauma to the head, broken bones, cuts, and internal injuries.
Florida’s Department of Health provides a valuable service in allowing public access to its physician database. There you can see all the most important criteria you need to know when choosing a doctor. Simply go to the Department of Health’s Division of Medical Quality Assurance. There you can search by doctor name, profession or license number. The database provides information about whether a doctor’s license is still valid if the doctor is certified in any specialty, and whether the doctor has had any malpractice settlements or verdicts against him in an amount greater than $100,000 within the last 10 years. In addition, it provides information on a doctor’s criminal offenses, disciplinary actions taken against the doctor by a specialty board, licensing agency, HMO, nursing home or hospital in the last 10 years. It also indicates whether the doctor has resigned from or had any medical staff privileges restricted or revoked within the previous 10 years. Furthermore, you can learn about the doctor’s educational background and medical credentials. Not all states provide such a robust database to its public. Be sure to take advantage of it when looking for your next doctor.
Not initially. You will most likely have to file a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) first. If the vaccine that caused your child’s injury is not on the list of vaccines covered by the VICP, then you may immediately sue the vaccine manufacturer. If the vaccine is on the VICP list, then you must file your claim with the Federal Claims Court. Current legal precedent requires the Federal Claims Court to dismiss vaccine-related autism claims. However, that decision is being appealed. If the court dissmisses your vaccine injury claim, then you may sue the vaccine maker directly.
Suing a school district isn't an easy process, but it's possible and you need an experienced attorney by your side. It's the best to contact us and discuss details over the phone or in person.
As of the date of this writing, doctors are not certain. The answer appears to be a definite “maybe.” At least two significant studies report that branch chain amino acids (BCAA) have positive effects on humans and animals who suffer a traumatic brain injury. This BCAAs may one day prove to be effective at restoring or lessening the cognitive disabilities that result from traumatic brain injury. This potential treatment is of significant importance to young children because TBI is the number one cause of death and disability for them. The first study examined humans who were given BCAAs intravenously after a severe brain injury. Doctors found mild improvement in their cognitive ability. A more recent study involving mice was more promising. The subjects’ cognitive power was restored after they were given three specific BCAAs: valine, isoleucine, leucine. Currently, no treatment exists for the cognitive injuries suffered by TBI victims, but doctors say there is certainly still hope that this will lead to a new and effective treatment.
Early brain injuries have not been shown to cause ADHD. However, child victims of brain injury in early childhood are 90 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD later. With such a high correlation, many people think that brain injuries do cause ADHD, but in this case, the correlation does not indicate that brain injuries cause ADHD. The truth is that children with ADHD behave more recklessly and therefore are more likely to injure themselves. For example, children with other injuries, especially burns, are also more likely than other children to be diagnosed with ADHD. So it’s not the injury that causes the attention disorder, it’s the ADHD that causes the injuries.
Not if the facility is in Florida, you can’t. Only the State of Florida can sue the daycare facility in that situation because Florida courts have ruled that Florida law does not provide a private right of action for such injuries. Section 415.504 of Florida Statutes mandates that certain people and entities like daycare providers, doctors, and police report suspected child abuse or neglect. However, Florida courts say the law does not allow parents to sue, that only the State of Florida can. The law is different in California where the law empowers parents with the right to sue in such situations. If you think Florida has it wrong on this topic like we do, please write to your state lawmaker and let your opinion be heard.
This tragic death (also called fetal demise) was likely preventable. The standard of care doctors must adhere to when presented with a pregnant woman who has suffered a trauma or fall is to at least monitor them for a minimum of 4 hours. In addition, when an expectant mother reports decreased fetal movement, doctors should perform tests such as ultrasound or sonogram, fetal monitoring or blood tests to check on fetal progress.
If the hospital failed to notify you that it participates in the program, then you can take them to court. However, by taking the hospital to court, Florida law states that you give up your option to apply for benefits under the NICA plan. You have the choice of doing one or the other not both. That is, you can choose to accept benefits under this program or you can sue the hospital, but you cannot do both.
The five leading causes of newborn deaths in the United States are:
1.Premature birth or low birth weight
3.Complications experienced by the mother during pregnancy
4.Newborn respiratory distress syndrome
5.Complications of the umbilical cord or placenta
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated the newborn mortality rates experienced by mothers of each race. For every 1,000 live births in America, 4.7 newborns die. That rate differs depending on the race or ethnicity of the mother as follows: Black – 9.3; White – 3.9; Hispanic – 3.8.
Unfortunately playground injuries to children are not uncommon. While oftentimes playground injuries are innocent accidents, defective equipment or inappropriate safety devices are also sometimes to blame. In addition, negligent supervision at a childcare facility can be responsible. Different legal standards apply depending on the various settings in which such child injuries occur. For example, the doctrine of sovereign immunity may apply if the playground property is owned by a government body. To have your questions answered and your options explained, we provide a free initial legal consultation. All you need to do is schedule an appointment.
Any interested party can do so. You do not have to be the injured child’s mother or father. You can be a relative of almost any degree. You can even be a family friend or some other non-related adult who is responsible and has a connection to the injured child. Before you can bring a legal claim, you must petition the court to be appointed the child’s “guardian ad litem.” Only then will Florida law allow you to file a legal claim for a child.
It can. Usually, insurance companies retain the right to be reimbursed for the expenses it paid toward your child’s medical care if your child receives any money from a lawsuit claiming that your child’s injuries were the fault of another whether from negligent, reckless or intentional acts. Your attorney should tell you about this. Your Florida child injury attorney should negotiate with your insurance company to reduce the amount of money you must give them to satisfy that requirement.