Each year, accidents injure thousands of children seriously enough to require a visit to the hospital emergency room. Studies indicate that the majority of pediatric personal injuries are due to falls or being struck by objects. Fortunately, most children are treated and released because their injuries are minor. Others suffer serious complications or lasting disability, often from no fault of their own. If a child is seriously injured on someone else’s property, the parents may have legal basis for filing a premises liability claim to pay for damages. However, claims involving minors can be complicated. An experienced premises liability lawyer will be able to represent injured minors and can explain options for pursuing legal action.
Property owners are not automatically liable for injuries that happen on their premises. Accidents sometimes happen because of a person’s own carelessness. To prevail in a typical premises liability lawsuit, the injured party must first be able to prove that a dangerous or unsafe condition existed on the property and that the owner should have known about the condition and failed to fix it or warn others about its existence. Injured parties must then be able to show that this dangerous condition caused an injury that resulted in actual damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering.
However, when minors are injured, property owners may be exposed to additional liability, particularly if the owner agreed, either directly or implicitly, to supervise the minor.
Under the theory of negligent supervision, an adult who is supervising a minor owes a duty of care. The person may be held liable if a failure to meet that duty of care directly resulted in injuries to the minor. Although some defendants may attempt to argue that the minor should have known enough to avoid being injured, most courts assume that children are curious and not fully aware of risks that may be present. The younger the child, the less aware they are of the risks and consequences of injury.
The laws in Pennsylvania governing premises liability for injury to minors include but are not limited to the following categories of rules:
Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence rule states that damages awarded in a personal injury case may be reduced by an amount equal to the percentage of fault born by the victim. For example, if a person gets hurt by ignoring a warning sign or by trespassing on someone else’s property, they may bear some fault for their injury.
However, Pennsylvania’s attractive nuisance law makes an exception to that rule for trespassing children.
Property owners may be liable for injuries to children if there is a structure or other artificial condition that is known to attract children but poses a significant risk to them. In the past, Pennsylvania courts have considered swimming pools, trampolines, playgrounds and towers attractive nuisances.
Usually, courts do not consider school playgrounds, as an attractive nuisance. Public schools are typically immune from personal injury lawsuits that happen on their grounds outside of school hours, especially if the school gates the playground. Additionally, the law views children on sports teams as responsible for assuming that there is a certain amount of risk involved in athletic activities. For example, it is highly unlikely that a high school athlete injured in a football game would have legal grounds for a personal injury claim, unless the injury was caused by a risk not normally associated with the sport.
In other types of circumstances involving a child suffering injury on someone else’s property, there are strict time limits during which you must file a claim. These time limits are one reason why it is so important for injured persons to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible after an accident
Children have the same legal rights to seek recovery for damages as adults. These damages may include payment for pain and suffering as well as medical bills and loss of future income or quality of life. However, since minors are not in a good position to negotiate with insurers or lawyers, parents have the right to hire a lawyer to negotiate on behalf of the child. The process may involve additional paperwork to get approval from a judge but a qualified lawyer is well equipped to handle this task.
The premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have advocated for injured minors in a number of significant cases, including the following:
Every accident has its own set of unique circumstances. Premises liability cases can be complicated for a number of reasons, including if the property owner leases the property, and if defective or unsafe devices or products contributed to the injury. In these situations, an injury victim may hold multiple parties liable for injuries sustained in an accident. The legal team at Galfand Berger LLP has many years of experience investigating accidents thoroughly to determine all contributing factors and assigning fault to negligent parties.
Injury victims may hold property owners liable for dangerous conditions on their premises. Additional considerations may apply to minors who are hurt on someone else’s property. If your child suffers an injury while they are not under your care, contact the Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP to find out if you should file a personal injury claim. We will review your case and answer any questions you may have. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.