If you are a parent, you know that it is not uncommon for children to fall. However, not all falls are caused by a child's carelessness. In many cases, a property owner's or business's negligence could cause a child to suffer serious injuries, such as a broken bone, traumatic brain injury, or spinal injury in a slip and fall accident.
If your child was hurt in a fall, it would help to understand the common causes of slips, falls, and trips caused by another's negligence. Understanding the causes will help you determine if you need to consider filing a claim with the owner's insurance company. You also need to know the special procedures you will need to follow in California when pursuing your child's right to compensation for their injuries.
Common Causes of Child Slip and Fall Accidents
Property owners and businesses have a duty to maintain their properties in safe conditions and repair any hazardous conditions. If they are not able to rectify a dangerous condition immediately, they should post a warning sign. When they breach these duties, they could be liable to compensate victims—including children—who are injured due to their negligence.
Children are hurt in slip and fall accidents due to many of the same reasons as adults. Common causes of falls, slips, and trips include:
- Spills of liquids
- Debris left on the floor
- Damaged or uneven flooring or worn carpeting
- Slippery floors due to cleaning or waxing
- Insufficient lighting
- Broken stairs and railings
- Cracks or potholes in parking lots or on sidewalks
While children can be the victim of a slip and fall accident at grocery stores, restaurants, and other places where adults suffer injuries in a fall, they also are hurt in locations unique to them, such as:
- Playgrounds. Children can suffer serious injuries while playing on playgrounds if the equipment is not maintained properly or the materials under the equipment are not soft enough.
- Camps. Spills, defective flooring, insufficient lighting, and other dangerous conditions can cause an unsuspecting child to be injured in a slip and fall accident while attending a day or overnight camp.
- Daycare and schools. Daycare facilities and schools have a duty to maintain their properties in a safe condition for the children entrusted in their care. Common reasons children slip and fall while at daycare or school include liquid spills, slippery floors due to cleaning, unsecured electrical cords, and defective floors, stairs, and railings.
- Sports activities. If the playing field or facility is not maintained in a safe condition, this can pose a slip and fall hazard for children playing sports there.
Special Procedures You Must Follow in Your Child's Slip and Fall Accident Case
In California, you are required to follow special procedures when settling your minor child's slip and fall accident claim. You must get court approval of the settlement even if you settle their claim in an out-of-court settlement with the insurance company. This procedure is referred to as a compromise of a child's claim.
You will need to file a petition with the court to obtain approval of a settlement. The rules are different for settlements with and without litigation. Here is the basic procedure for both:
- Out-of-court settlement. If you reached an agreement with the insurance company without the need to file a lawsuit, you would file your petition for approval of compromise of a minor's claim in the county where your child lives. A parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem, which is a person appointed by the court to represent the minor child's interests, can file the petition.
- Litigation. If you had to file a lawsuit against the negligent property or business owner, the petition would need to be filed in the court where the lawsuit is being decided. The guardian ad litem must be the party to file the petition seeking court approval of the settlement.
When approving the settlement, the court would specify where the settlement proceeds must be deposited and how they can be used. The judge would most likely order the money to be placed in a blocked account until your child turns 18 years old and would require court approval to spend any of it before then.
Consult With a Child Injury Lawyer Today
Was your child injured in a slip and fall accident? It can be challenging to settle their claim and follow the correct procedures to get the settlement approved by the court without the help of an experienced child injury attorney. To learn how I can assist you, fill out my convenient online form or call my San Diego office to schedule a free initial consultation today.