Understanding Lawyers - Don't Think the WorstUnderstanding Lawyers - Don't Think the Worst

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Understanding Lawyers - Don't Think the Worst

I got into a car accident when my daughter was 2 years old. My daughter was not injured in the crash, but I was. The accident was caused by a distracted driver talking on her cell phone. The driver insisted that I was attending to my daughter and I took my eyes off the road. I unfortunately had many medical bills to pay and I had very little time to fight with insurance companies over settlement payments. I was concerned about the cost of an attorney, but I met with a lawyer anyway to help with the accident claim. The lawyer relieved my stress and dealt with the insurance company and the other driver. I want you to know that lawyers can be helpful, kind, and caring. Most people think the worst of these professionals, but I want you to know that lawyers should not be feared or avoided.

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When Is The Negligent Supervision Of A Child A Defensive Claim In A Personal Injury Case?

Who is responsible when a child gets injured? While each circumstance is different, there are times when the responsibility lies with the child's parent for failing to carefully supervise the child. If you're the target of a personal injury lawsuit involving a child, learn how a negligent supervision defense can be raised.

Who Has The Duty To Protect The Child?

Essentially, parents and caregivers of all sorts have a duty to protect the most vulnerable members of society. Children under a certain age (depending on the state that you live in and the individual circumstances of your case) are among that class of most vulnerable people because they lack the same experience, knowledge, and maturity that grown adults are expected to have.

When a child is injured, it's very common for parents to accuse caregivers such as babysitters and schools of failing to adequately supervise the child, thus allowing the child to suffer injuries. This negligent supervision often forms the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.

However, defendants are starting to rightfully turn the situation around and point out that there are times when it is the parent who has failed in his or her duty to supervise the child.

For example, suppose that you are the manufacturer of a product that is clearly not designed for human consumption: a cleaning tool. Warning labels, if not common sense, clearly indicate to adults that the product should be kept away from children and not ingested. Yet, a number of children mistake your product for a toy or some type of candy, ingest some of it, and get injured. As a result, you get targeted with a lawsuit. Are you at fault? Should the parents and caregivers of the injured children bear the responsibility instead because they failed to put the product out of reach or keep a better eye on their children?

What about a circumstance where a child is injured on your private property? For example, imagine that you have been building a retaining wall on your property and you have construction materials and tools sitting around the work area. A neighboring child sneaks into your yard when you aren't home and gets injured playing on the rock pile. You could easily find yourself the subject of a lawsuit if the child's parents allege that you created an "attractive nuisance" and should have known that a child would likely be enticed into the danger zone. However, is such a claim justified?

Your Adequate Warnings Can Help Bolster Your Defense

Essentially, the more proactive you were (or are) about warning the parents of children that an item or area is dangerous, the better the likelihood that you can shift the burden of responsibility back to the parents.

As a defendant, you would want to prove any of several things, including that:

  • you warned parents that your product or property could be dangerous 
  • the parents knew of the obvious dangers of the situation
  • the child's past behavior should have put the parents on increased guard
  • the parents could have reasonably foreseen such an injury, based on the circumstances of the case.

It isn't always easy (or pleasant) to shift the blame for a child's injuries back to parents. However, you also shouldn't have to bear the legal and financial burdens of the blame when the situation really could have been prevented through better parental supervision. If you're facing a lawsuit where a child was injured and you feel that the parents bear the greater liability for the accident, talk to your attorney about using negligent supervision as a defensive claim in your case. To find out more, contact a company like Randall A. Wolff & Associates, Ltd.