South Carolina Attorneys Handling Child Injury Claims
Aggressive representation for child victims of negligence, malpractice, neglect, and abuse
A serious injury can have long-lasting effects on a victim. When the victim is a child, however, those effects may be even more serious, influencing everything from their physical and cognitive development to their mental health. Some injuries may never fully heal or create a financial burden that is untenable for parents and caretakers alike.
The South Carolina child injury attorneys of McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC understand that claims involving children are some of the most devastating situations imaginable, and that litigating these claims requires a different approach with different resources. When your child is hurt and you do not know where to turn, turn to us. We want to help.
What are child injury claims?
Minor, accidental injuries – skinned knees, bumped heads – are a normal part of childhood, even if they feel like the end of the world (to the child or to the parents) at the time.
Some injuries, however, are the result of another person, product, or entity’s negligence, abuse, neglect, or malpractice. If your child is critically injured because of another person’s actions, you can seek justice through a civil lawsuit.
What are the common causes of child injuries in South Carolina?
Some of the common causes of child injuries include:
- Car accidents. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 12. A car crash can cause broken bones, head and brain trauma, back and spinal trauma, and permanent scarring. Children walking through their neighborhoods or riding their bicycles are especially at risk of being hit by a vehicle.
- Falls. Per the CDC, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injury to children up to the age of 19. A fall from any height is dangerous, but even trips and slips can lead to broken bones, head and brain trauma, and nerve damage.
- Defective products. Choking hazards, flammability, potential birth defects, suffocation risk: every day, children’s products are recalled because they pose a life-threatening danger to kids. If your child suffered injury or harm from a dangerous toy, a defective crib or infant sleeper, a harmful drug, or other defective product, we want to help.
- Dog bites. Small children are attracted to animals – even ones that could be dangerous. You can hold pet owners responsible for the injuries or infections your child sustains if your child is scratched, attacked, or bitten by a dog, a cat, or other pet or exotic animal.
- Burns. Open flames, scalding water, exploding batteries, electrical shocks, and dangerous chemicals can all lead to a child’s serious burn injuries. Burns are often accompanied by smoke and ash inhalation, which can cause permanent damage to the lungs and throat.
- Medical malpractice. An act of medical negligence can have life-long repercussions and affect children differently than it would adults. Misdiagnosis of childhood cancers, medical errors, and other acts of negligence can be addressed through the courts.
- Drowning. Public and private pool owners and operators owe a duty of care to ensure their pools are safe. The same is true of resorts, hotels, water parks, and other areas where pools may be open and available for use. If your child suffers a drowning injury, or dies as a result, we can help you seek justice.
- Poisonings. Most accidental poisonings happen to children under the age of six (6), and the causes can range from household cleaners to unsafe paint to excessive vitamins or medications.
- Sports and recreation. Children can get hurt playing sports; it is why so many teams require a waiver. If those injuries could have been prevented, or if an injury was allowed to get worse because of lack of care and/or supervision, your child could be entitled to damages.
What types of child injury claims do you handle?
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC represents child injury victims in:
- Premises liability claims involving schools, amusement parks, daycares, retail centers, and more
- Medical malpractice claims involving hospitals, physicians, medication errors, surgical centers, Emergency Rooms, and more
- Product liability claims involving dangerous medications, children’s products, furniture, and more
- Birth injury claims involving hospitals, OB/GYNs, nurses, midwives, and more
- Wrongful death claims against individuals, businesses, and more
- Sexual assault and sex trafficking claims against teachers and schools, youth organizations, hotels and motels, religious organizations, coaches, medical professionals, and more
- Neglect and abuse claims against residential treatment facilities, daycares, schools, medical facilities, and more
What makes child injury claims different from “adult” injury claims?
Any person who suffers a truly catastrophic injury – like a traumatic brain injury, paralysis, burn injury, or loss of limb, to name a few – will need extensive medical care that could last a lifetime, and be faced with almost insurmountable expenses. Serious injuries to children, however, are different than serious injuries to adults for many reasons.
Physical development can be affected
According to Yale Medicine, physical injuries to certain bones can affect a child’s growth plates, “areas of cartilage found at either end of the long bones (bones that are longer than they are wide, like arm and leg bones) in children and adolescents.” If the damage is severe, or if treatment is delayed, it can stunt a child’s growth.
Physical injuries are not the only cause of short stature. Malnutrition, certain chronic diseases like cancer, and other genetic concerns can also affect a child’s physical growth.
Cognitive development may be delayed or arrested
A traumatic brain injury, caused by external or internal injury, can lead to cognitive delays or arrested cognitive abilities. Physical trauma, undiagnosed/untreated infections, undiagnosed/untreated chronic diseases, oxygen deprivation before, during, or after labor, and acts of medical malpractice and negligence can all lead to brain damage which can affect a child’s cognitive abilities. Brain damage can also affect motor skills, social skills, and memory, and could affect a child’s ability to learn, make friends, hold a job, or participate in everyday life in a community. In some cases, the child may require a lifetime of care.
Trauma can cause internal damage
Children’s bodies are not fully developed, which puts them at risk of severe injury. For example, pediatric airways are much shorter and smaller than adult airways, and children’s tongues are typically larger (as a percentage of their size) than adults. As a result, children may be more prone to choking and suffocation than adults.
Children’s ribs and sternums are not as strong as those of adults, and their abdominal walls are thinner. Therefore, if they experience chest trauma, it could be more life-threatening for them than it would be for an adult. For example, say a grown man is riding his bike and a defective tire blows out, causing him to strike his chest on the handlebars. This is a painful injury, and it could result in a bruised or even cracked rib, but it is likely that the adult will survive. A child, per The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, does not have the same protection, and a hard strike to the chest from a bike’s handlebars could lead to a punctured lung or other internal damage.
This risk from chest trauma is one reason why children under a certain age, height, and weight are required by law to use car seats and boosters; the trauma of a tightening seatbelt on a child too small to use the belt alone can be devastating.
Mental trauma can affect everything
Many adults have difficulty coping with stress and trauma; for children, it can be even worse. Despite the adage that children “bounce back,” severe psychological trauma associated with physical injury, sexual abuse and assault, neglect, and other forms of negligence can lead to life-long consequences. Children who are old enough to understand that what is happening is wrong, but not old enough to understand why it is happening, can internalize that stress and develop coping mechanisms that make them a danger to themselves or others. They may also have difficulty:
- Forming relationships
- Experiencing emotional responses
- Responding appropriately to social situations
- Finding and maintaining employment
- Regulating their behavior
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network reports that childhood trauma has been linked to “high-risk behaviors (e.g., smoking, unprotected sex), chronic illness such as heart disease and cancer, and early death.”
Are child injury claims handled differently in South Carolina?
Child injury lawsuits are handled differently than injury claims involving adults when it comes to seeking damages. In all lawsuits, no matter the age of the victim, there are three types of damages that can be sought:
- Economic damages, which include things like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. There is no cap on economic damages.
- Non-economic damages, which include things like pain and suffering and loss of companionship. South Carolina does limit the amount of non-economic damages you can pursue in medical malpractice claims, but that limit does not apply to personal injury claims.
- Punitive damages, which are awarded as a punishment for reckless behavior, and as a deterrent against future behavior. Punitive damages are capped at three times (3x) the amount of your award, or $500,000 – whichever amount is greater.
Economic and non-economic damages are compensatory damages, as they seek to compensate a victim. Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are designed to punish a wrongdoer.
Child injury victims may be entitled to all these damages, but how they are calculated will be vastly different. For example, a 10-year-old child will not lose any of her wages, but her ability to earn a living and support herself later could be affected by a traumatic brain injury.
Another difference would be in medical and care expenses. A child born with cerebral palsy because of medical negligence may never be able to care for him or herself. That child may require constant medical supervision and intervention, 24-hour caretaking including feeding, bathing, and therapy, and other forms of care. These expenses will likely increase as time passes, which means we must calculate the costs differently.
Finally, if the worst comes to pass and your child dies because of his or her injuries, you will have funeral and burial costs on top of whatever medical bills you face. While no amount of money is ever going to make up for the loss of a child, we believe that families should be allowed to grieve their loss of a child without worrying if they will lose their home because of mounting bills.
What is the statute of limitations for a child injury claim in South Carolina?
While most personal injury claims must be filed within three years of the date of the injury, or the date when a person would reasonably know he or she was injured, certain child injury claims fall outside this statute. Claims against government entities may have a shorter statute, whereas claims against defendants who reside outside of South Carolina may be granted more time.
Understand that there are exceptions to every rule, and you may have less time than you anticipate to file a personal injury claim. Call us today to learn more.
Generally, victims of child sex abuse may have:
- One year from the date of their 18th birthday OR three (3) years from the date the abuse occurred to file a claim; or
- Up to six (6) years after they turn 21 OR within three (3) years of learning their injury was the result of sexual abuse to file a claim.
Victims of personal injuries may have
- Up to 3 years to file a claim; or
- Until the age of 19 to file a claim
- Seven years from the date of injury in a medical malpractice action
You should contact a South Carolina child injury lawyer from McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC as soon as you can so we can get to work on the claim. If you wait too long, valuable evidence can be lost or misplaced, and witnesses may forget what they have seen.
Do you have any South Carolina child injury lawyers near me?
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC maintains seven offices throughout South Carolina for the convenience of our clients:
- Rock Hill
- Pawleys Island (Myrtle Beach area)
- Pleasant (Charleston area)
Experienced child injury attorneys serving South Carolina
McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC is dedicated to helping families protect their children. If your child was injured by another person’s negligence or reckless behavior, we are ready to help. Please call 803-327-7800, or fill out our contact form, to schedule your free initial consultation at one of our multiple offices throughout South Carolina.
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Rock Hill, SC Office
1539 Health Care Drive
Rock Hill, SC 29732
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Columbia, SC Office
1517 Hampton St.
Columbia, SC 29201
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Charleston, SC Office
10 Shem Dr.
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
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Georgetown, SC Office
137 Professional Lane
Pawleys Island, SC 29585
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Greenville, SC Office
135 Edinburgh Court, Suite 202,
Greenville, SC 29607
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Post Office Box 3811
Anderson, SC 29622