Ontario parents: Three things to know when children are injured
Few things in life are more terrifying than a serious accident involving a child. Parents know that moment when everything seems to slow down as the fear of this reality sets in. Whether a car accident, bike crash, dog attack, or other type of accident, parents and children are left to deal with the trauma.
Once parents address immediate medical needs, they may wonder who is responsible for the costs associated with the accident. It is common to have many questions and want to hold responsible parties accountable for the accident. Three things every parent in this situation should know include the following.
#1: Another individual may be liable.
It is not fair for parents to cover the costs associated with the accident if the accident is another person’s fault. Thankfully, the legal system agrees. There are legal remedies for children who find themselves in this situation. The exact path varies depending on the province or territory. These remedies are generally available through a lawsuit. A parent or sibling, or other close family member, in this situation would serve as the injured child’s Litigation Guardian if the child is a minor. In Ontario, the Family Law Act also allows parents, siblings, and grandparents to advance claims related to their own loss of care, guidance, and companionship as a result of the minor’s injuries.
#2: A lawsuit can result in funds to help cover the expenses connected with the accident.
If a reckless or negligent act of another resulted in injury to a child, parents can likely use the legal system to seek compensation from the other party through a lawsuit. The parent or Litigation Guardian will generally need to establish that the other party was negligent or reckless to proceed with their claim. The Litigation Guardian must work to protect the child’s interests and be represented by a lawyer.
#3: The negligent party may try to hold the parent liable.
It is also important for parents to prepare for the potential of a counterclaim. The other individual or business could claim the parent was also at fault for the child’s accident. In a recent example, an 11-year-old child crossed the road to get her family’s mail from the mailbox. While crossing, she was struck by a car. The driver of the car was veering around a garbage truck when he struck the child. The child suffered serious and permanent injury from the accident.
The child and her parents filed a lawsuit against the driver and the individual who parked the garbage truck. The driver and individual filed a counterclaim against the parents, arguing that they contributed to the accident because they failed to properly supervise the child. The driver and garbage truck operator both argue that they should bear no financial responsibility for the accident, that it was unavoidable. After negotiations, the parties presented a settlement offer to the courts. Considering the facts of the case, the court found the $280,000 settlement fair and reasonable.
This example shows that these cases can result in much needed funds. However, it is important to note that these cases can be complex. If a parent is named as a defendant in this type of case, they can generally no longer bring the lawsuit on behalf of their child. Another individual may need to serve as the Litigation Guardian. These cases also involve a breakdown of damages that can include a review of expenses already accumulated, potential future expenses, and loss of future earning capacity. Legal counsel can help guide parents through these stressful situations and better ensure they get the compensation their child needs to move on with their lives.
At O’Connor Richardson, we work with other personal injury law firms when a minor child is injured and there is a claim against the parent(s). We represent the parent(s) in their own Family Law Claim and defend them against the allegations of parental negligence.