According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, emergency medical services (EMS) were called upon for approximately 106,000 children from infants to 14 years of age in 2020 statewide. Moreover, while many childhood injuries don’t rise to the level of severe, such as broken bones or sprained ankles, many are so serious as to be life-altering. Or in the worst of all cases, they can be fatal.
Children are all too often injured in daycares; on faulty playground equipment; in motor vehicle or bicycle accidents; in public or residential swimming pools that may have inadequate protection; or by accidental ingestion of toxic substances such as certain medications, household cleaners, or other poisonous substances. Infants and toddlers are especially at risk of choking (on small toys, for instance) and suffocation. Tragically, nearly 30 percent of fatal injuries among children and adolescents are now attributed to firearms, whether by acts of violence or accidents.
At Dibrell Graham Law, we advocate for children and are fiercely determined to protect their rights when they have been injured because of someone’s negligent behavior. No child should be denied the medical attention and the compensation they need to heal. No family should be denied justice if their child has been fatally injured because of the reckless or careless actions of another person or entity. We hold responsible parties accountable for their actions.
Causes of child injuries in Texas
As is the case for adults, car accidents are a leading cause of injuries to children in Texas and throughout the U.S. While the number of fatalities has dropped steadily over the last 40 years, it remains a major cause of injuries from whiplash and lacerations to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and paralysis. (And sadly, Texas has the greatest number of deadly car crashes in the nation.)
Unintentional injuries cover the gamut from motor vehicle accidents to accidental poisoning (especially drug overdoses). In fact, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 1 and 44.
The most common causes of injury in children between infancy and the age of 19 include:
- Car accidents: Serious injury and death among children due to motor vehicle accidents is highest among children ages 5 to 19. Road and weather conditions aside, distracted drivers (e.g., those texting while driving) drunk drivers, and just plain reckless drivers are often the reason an accident happens. When a driver’s negligence causes a child to be injured, they must be held accountable.
- Playgrounds and amusement parks: It’s only natural that children love places that offer fun, excitement, and the chance to really “be a kid.” Whether through faulty or poorly maintained equipment or distracted or undertrained supervisory staff, as many as 200,000 children aged 14 and younger are treated in emergency rooms for playground-related accidents. 75 percent of the non-fatal injuries occur on public playgrounds, especially at schools and daycare facilities. Falls are the most common playground injury. And according to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), roughly 140 amusement ride injury reports were filed in 2020 and 2021, nearly a third of which were known to be children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 18.
- Swimming pools: Drowning is a leading cause of fatal injuries among children aged 1 to 4. In fact, “More children ages 1 to 4 die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects.” With the record heat waves in Texas, more families head to pools to cool off. Whether because of inadequate supervision (too few/undertrained/distracted lifeguards) or a poorly secured pool, or faulty equipment, the pool owner or management company—or in the case of a public community pool, even the city—can be held accountable for their negligence.
- Dog bites: Just as children are drawn to parks and pools, they are often drawn to dogs. They may not realize a dog has a history of being dangerously aggressive. Under Texas law regarding dog attacks, owners are responsible for securing their dogs by taking steps “that a reasonable person would take to ensure a dog remains on the owner’s property, including confining the dog in an enclosure that is capable of preventing the escape or release of the dog.” Injuries to young children can be particularly severe and include injuries to the face and neck, some of which can leave lifelong physical and emotional scars.
- Medical malpractice: Parents trust physicians and other medical professionals with the health, safety and well-being of their children. So, what happens when they violate their duty of care? A doctor has breached that duty of care if he or she has not performed in a manner that a reasonably competent physician would have performed with the same skill and diligence under the same or similar circumstances. Examples of potential medical malpractice may include failure to diagnose, misdiagnoses, delayed diagnosis, treatment errors, premature hospital discharge, and serious surgical mistakes (such as operating on the wrong part of the body or leaving foreign objects inside the body). Physicians may also be responsible for birth defects or birth injuries that can lead to a lifetime of pain or disability for a child.
Common types of child injuries in Texas
Children will typically fall off bikes and cut their knee or get their fingers caught in drawer. Both are painful, but not serious. Severe injuries are those that may cause chronic pain and/or may require complex and/or multiple surgeries. Moreover, it may mean that a child will face a lifetime of disability or disfigurement. These injuries include:
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): This can be caused by a blow to the head or a penetrating injury (such as from a bullet). TBIs can range from mild concussions to life-long problems that can effect balance, speech, persistent headache, memory and even behavior.
- Eye damage: The worst case, of course, is an accident that causes partial or complete loss of vision. For instance, school-age children and adolescents who suffer sports injuries may experience hyphema—a condition in which blood pools between the cornea and the iris. 70 percent of hyphema cases occur in children. In its most severe form, it can lead to blindness.
- Amputations: Young children are more likely to lose a finger when it gets caught in a mechanism or crushed in a door or car door. Adolescents are more likely to sustain an injury that causes or requires amputation due to a car accident or incidents with lawn mowers, off-road vehicles or firearms.
- Spinal cord injuries: Acute spinal cord injuries in children can be caused by any number of accidents, including medical malpractice during birth delivery, trampoline accidents, sports (especially football, gymnastics, diving, horseback riding and wrestling) falls from playground equipment, motor vehicle accidents or being hit while walking or biking—and tragically, child abuse. Spinal cord injuries can cause a host of complications from weakness and bladder dysfunction to complete or partial paralysis.
Who is liable for child injuries?
Any at-fault party (or combination of parties) may be liable for compensation for a child’s injuries. In most Texas child injury cases, the doctrine of negligence is the basis for a lawsuit for damages, or compensation, to the defendant. The four elements required to establish negligence include:
- The defendant (liable party) owes the plaintiff (injured party) a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty
- The plaintiff suffered an injury
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused that injury
Liable parties could include a daycare provider, a drunk or distracted driver, or a dog owner. If a faulty product caused the accident injury, then the manufacturer could be sued for product liability. Even a government entity may be liable under limited sets of circumstances.
Can a public school be liable for a child’s injuries?
Like other government agencies, public schools are generally protected under “sovereign immunity.” This means it is difficult to hold them liable for negligence. However, it may be possible to hold other parties liable for an injury that occurred at a school. This could include visitors or volunteers, the parents of another child who caused the injury, or the manufacturer of defective playground or athletic equipment, for instance.
What about a child injured in a car crash?
When another driver causes an accident because he or she was drunk, distracted by texting, speeding or otherwise driving in an irresponsible or reckless manner, that driver is liable for any injuries he or she caused. Because of their small size, young children may be especially vulnerable to head and neck injuries in vehicle accidents. Slightly older children are more likely to sustain injuries to the chest and abdomen. Either way, the medical bills, ongoing treatment and potential for emotional trauma can be significant. Liable parties need to pay for the harm they have done.
Types of damages your child is entitled to in an injury claim
In personal injury cases, “damages” refers to the monetary award that an injured person receives as compensation for the harm caused by another party. There are two types of damages:
- Special damages compensate the injured party (the child) for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence or reckless behavior. They include hospital and physician bills—including cost of future healthcare needs, costs for ongoing therapy or medical treatment, and even costs associated with disability, such as the need to modify living spaces or for prosthetic devices.
- General damages cover those things that are non-economic/not quantifiable, such as pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and potential loss of income or reduced earning capacity.
Children who suffer serious injuries may have been robbed of not only their childhood, but their future. As Texas child injury attorney, we make sure to leave no stone unturned in seeking every avenue of compensation that your child will need for a more financially secure future. And in the worst possible situation—where a child has died as the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful act—we provide compassionate representation while aggressively pursuing the greatest possible compensation, and justice, for families.
We are on your child’s side
Child injuries are as traumatic for parents and family members as it is for your child. We advocate for your child’s rights and know how to fight to get them full and fair compensation—every single penny. To learn more about how the Texas child injury attorney at Dibrell Graham Law can help you, please contact us online or call us at (512) 522-5330 to discuss your situation and your needs.