North Carolina Child Brain Injury Lawyer

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Anyone can suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and unfortunately, more than 400,000 children visit emergency rooms for these injuries every year in the US. Another 29,000 kids between 0 and 14 are hospitalized for TBI, and sadly, 3,000 die from this type of injury annually.

Sometimes, TBI can lead to lifelong disability or other health effects in children. Because of their young age and the fact that their brains are still developing, some children may or may not show signs of difficulty immediately after a head injury. With some injuries, the child seems to be acting typically, and the hospital may release them after observation. But a child with a head injury may develop other difficulties later on. One study found that kids who have suffered at least one TBI have higher rates of the following:

  • Learning disorders or difficulties
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Speech or language challenges
  • Developmental delays
  • Musculoskeletal or joint issues
  • Anxiety
  • Other mental health difficulties
  • Sleep issues
  • Behavioral problems
  • Hearing loss or troubles
  • Other neurologic difficulties, including epilepsy and motor function challenges

While there is an increased risk of these conditions associated with childhood TBI, your child may not develop any of these issues. However, you should make a note of any changes in your child’s behavior or health and report them to your pediatrician right away. Many of the above disorders can be successfully treated following a diagnosis.

More serious TBIs may lead to severe disability, and these conditions usually present symptoms shortly after the injury. In these cases, the child may need medication or surgery to prevent permanent or fatal brain damage. In other situations, even prompt treatment may not be able to reverse the effects of significant brain damage. Some children with advanced brain injuries develop permanent disabilities, including paralysis, speech or movement difficulties, cognitive impairment, and other challenges.

Why Do You Need a Child Brain Injury Attorney?

Your child may already have significant medical bills, even if they were only hospitalized for a few days. It might also be hard to predict if they will need additional care in the future. Or, you may already be aware that they will need medical attention for years to come or the rest of their life.

Unfortunately, healthcare can be expensive, even with good insurance, and many things are not covered or have limited coverage. For example, your child might need weekly speech therapy. Still, your health insurance carrier may only pay for so many sessions per year, leaving you struggling to continue covering the costs after you’ve reached that number.

If the negligence of another party caused your child’s injury, seeking compensation could allow you to pay for current medical bills and future care, as well as plan for anything your child will need in the future – specialized therapy, professional caregiving, mobility aids or other assistive devices, etc. A child brain injury attorney will review your child’s case and explain any options available for securing compensation.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Child Brain Injury?

The numbers vary depending on the child’s age. Younger children between 0 and 14 are most likely to experience TBI after an accidental fall – this accounts for about 50 percent of pediatric TBIs in the age group. Other common causes include being struck by an object and car accident injuries.

However, very young children, from infants to preschoolers, are more likely to experience a TBI from falls and assaults (including shaken baby syndrome, a type of TBI that occurs due to a child being violently shaken). Teens and elementary school-aged children are most likely to experience TBI due to a car accident, bicycle crash, or sports injury.

How Do You Know If Your Child’s Injury Was Caused by Negligence?

The best way to find out is to speak with a child brain injury lawyer. We meet many people who mistakenly believe that their child’s injury was simply an unfortunate accident or the result of bad luck. But in many situations, we find one or more negligent parties from whom we can seek compensation for the injured child.

Here are some examples of everyday situations where another person or entity may be responsible for your child’s injuries:

  • Car accidents. If the other driver was at fault, we may file a claim with their car insurance policy for current and future medical bills and other damages that you, as a parent, will have to pay. Compensation for this type of claim will be paid to you directly. If your child suffered other damages, such as a permanent or long-term health issue or disability, you could file a separate lawsuit on their behalf. The court will hold compensation awarded for this type of claim until the child is 18 (in some cases, these funds may be placed in a special needs trust for the child).
  • Falls. People often think a fall is no one’s fault, but this isn’t always true. If your child’s fall occurred on someone else’s property, the owner could have been negligent. For instance, if your child slipped on a wet floor at the mall, the mall’s management may have failed to promptly clean up the spill or put out signs to warn customers away. Other common situations that might indicate negligence include playground falls, injuries at a daycare facility, or falls on another individual’s property (such as a child falling off a swing set in a neighbor’s yard). Whether or not there was negligence in these situations usually depends on the specific details of the accident, so it’s crucial that you speak with a lawyer to determine if anyone is liable.
  • Sports injuries. There may potentially be more than one liable party in these cases. You might assume that “injuries happen” when kids play sports, especially contact sports like football. Indeed, there is always a risk of injury in sports, so it’s important to follow safety rules and regulations. In most cases, it is difficult to sue a public school due to sovereign immunity, a legal concept that means the government can’t be sued without its consent. There are a few exceptions that might allow a lawsuit against the school in certain situations, so you should always check with a lawyer to understand your options. If your child was injured at a private school, you could file a lawsuit if their negligence led to an injury. In a few sports injury cases, we find that a manufacturer of defective equipment may be liable.

What If You Don’t Feel Comfortable Suing Someone You Know?

This is a common concern. Aside from cases that center on car accidents, most negligence cases for child brain injuries involve people or institutions the family knows – neighbors, friends, and caregivers. Many people tell us that they don’t want to sue their neighbor or they know their child’s daycare teacher doesn’t have the money to pay a judgment anyway. Fortunately, we can resolve most of these cases through an insurance claim, and the resulting settlement is paid by the insurance carrier, not the responsible party. Typically these cases are negotiated and settled out of court, and only occasionally is it necessary to go to trial.

Here are some examples of insurance coverage that may apply in child head injury cases:

  • Business liability insurance. Every well-run business should have liability insurance – especially for businesses open to the public and/or providing services for children. For example, if your child is hurt at daycare due to negligence on the facility’s part, this would most likely be covered by their liability insurance policy.
  • Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. If your child was injured at the home of a friend or neighbor, we might be able to make a claim on one of these policies.
  • Auto insurance. If a car accident caused your child’s head injury, we would likely begin by filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. If the other driver claims you were at fault, we will fight to refute their claims and prove your case. When the other driver was uninsured, or there isn’t enough evidence to prove they were at fault, we may still be able to make a claim on your own car insurance, depending on the type of coverage you have. Occasionally there may also be a third-party claim against a defective car part manufacturer or other parties.

Even a relatively mild TBI can put your child at increased risk of many health problems. Unfortunately, even parents who earn a comfortable living sometimes struggle to pay for medical care, therapy, and other support services their child needs following a head injury. Your family should not have to undergo financial stress due to someone else’s negligence. An experienced attorney can file a claim with the insurance company and handle any correspondence with the responsible party so that you can focus on helping your child recover.

Contact a North Carolina Child Brain Injury Lawyer for More Information

At Tatum & Atkinson, our personal injury attorneys have worked on many child brain injury cases. We have the knowledge and experience to determine how much compensation will be needed (including future costs) and pursue a claim against the responsible party or their insurance carrier. We understand that caring for your child after a head injury can be a confusing and stressful, and we’re always available to answer your questions and explain the options in your case. Please contact us at any time for a free consultation.