When a child is injured, their medical bills cost money too. Children obviously cannot be responsible for their own medical bills, as they are too young to have jobs or money of their own, or even to sign up for an insurance policy. That means that the responsibility for their bills falls to you, their parent.
If your child has been injured, you need the assistance of a skilled and professional attorney. Contact Shelly Leeke Law Firm today for a free consultation and case review.
Compensation for the Parents of Injured Children
Under South Carolina law, parents are permitted to recover compensation for their child’s medical bills. This means that, essentially, the parents are permitted to be compensated for what they had to pay on behalf of their child, while only their child can be compensated for their economic damages, like pain and suffering.
Essentially, even though your child cannot bring a lawsuit until they are older, you can only recover what you paid on their behalf. The way that damages are calculated is complicated, however, and you should hire a skilled attorney to help you navigate your claim.
When Can My Child Bring a Lawsuit for Their Injuries?
Normally, in South Carolina, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is three years. This means that a plaintiff has 3 years from the time that they discover their injury to file their lawsuit. However, by law, a person must be 18 years old to file a lawsuit – so what if the plaintiff is too young and will not be 18 within 3 years?
This is where a legal process called tolling comes into play. Tolling is when the start of a statute of limitations is pushed to a later date, giving a plaintiff more time to file their lawsuit. In South Carolina, if a person is injured while they are a minor, the statute of limitations is tolled, giving the person one year after they turn 18.
Even if the child’s injury happened when they are very young, they can bring a lawsuit for their personal injuries up until their 19th birthday. The statute of limitations and totaling issues can be very complicated. You need the help of a highly skilled and professional attorney to advise you during your claim.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover on My Child’s Behalf?
As the parent of an injured child, you are limited to the recovery of economic damages. These damages are easily calculable damages that are meant to reimburse money that you were forced to pay because of an injury rather than compensate you for the injuries themselves. Non-economic damages include things such as:
- Medical bills, including physical therapy
- Travel costs to and from treatment
- Costs for an assisted living facility if the victim is permanently disabled
- Costs for a medical assistive device, such as a wheelchair
- The cost of at-home travel medical care
- Repair or replacement costs of damaged property
Parents are permitted to recover any damages that they were required to pay on their injured child’s behalf. Your attorney can help you put together a list of the damages that you can recover.
Normally, when your child is injured, you cannot sue for your lost wages if you, for example, had to miss work to take your child to medical care or had to quit your job to take care of your child. However, there is one exception to this general rule. You can sue for emotional distress damages under a theory of bystander liability if you witnessed the accident to your child.
Elements of Bystander Liability
Bystander liability is brought under the theory of “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” There are five elements that you have to prove to recover under bystander liability.
- The negligence of the defendant must cause either death or serious physical injury to your child.
- The accident happened close to you.
- You and the injured person must be closely related (your child meets this standard).
- You must actually witness the accident.
- You must have emotional distress that shows itself through physical symptoms that can be diagnosed by a doctor and established by that doctor’s expert testimony.
If your child is injured in front of you and the injury meets the above elements, you might be entitled to financial compensation. A skilled attorney can help you make a claim for the emotional damages you have suffered.
What if My Child Is Injured by Another Child?
Under South Carolina law, when a child causes an injury, the plaintiff can often go after the child and their parents. However, children typically do not have any money, so plaintiffs typically sue either the defendant child’s parents or their parent’s insurance company if the injury is something that is covered, such as under homeowners insurance.
You can sue the parents of the child that hurt your child, however, the parents are often immune from such lawsuits. Under South Carolina law, the parents of a child are not liable for injuries caused by that child unless the child maliciously or willfully caused the injuries. Maliciously and willfully causing the injuries means that the child did it on purpose, such as by bullying.
In that situation, the parents of the child defendant are only liable for $5,000. Your best bet, therefore, is typically to hope that the parents of the other child have some kind of insurance that covers the injury. A skilled lawyer can help you determine your best course of action.
Contact Shelly Leeke Law Firm
When your child is injured, the last thing that you want to worry about is how you will pay for their injuries. Luckily, there are attorneys to worry about that for you. When your child is injured, you need the help of a skilled and professional attorney.
Get the damages that you deserve for your child. Contact Shelly Leeke Law Firm today for a free consultation and case review.