Little Kids, Big Accidents: The Parents' Guide to Child Injury Cases in Michigan

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The Detroit child injury attorneys at Buckfire & Buckfire PC offer a comprehensive guide for parents who's children have been hurt or wrongfully died in any type of accident.

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Little Kids, Big Accidents: The Parents' Guide to Child Injury Cases in Michigan

  1. 1. LITTLE KIDS,BIG ACCIDENTSThe Parents’ Guide To Child InjuryCases in MichiganLLaawwrreennccee JJ.. BBuucckkffiirreeMichigan Child Injury LawyerWord Association Publisherswww.wordassociation.com
  2. 2. Cover Illustration by the beautiful Kylie, the nine year old daughterof the author.Copyright © 2009 by Lawrence J. BuckfireAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrievalsystem, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.Printed in the United States of America.ISBN: 978-1-59571-408-4Word Association Publishers205 Fifth AvenueTarentum, Pennsylvania 15084www.wordassociation.com
  3. 3. CONTENTSLegal Advice 5Who I Am and Why I Wrote This Book 6CHAPTER ONE 9Basic Facts: Children, Accidents & Legal ClaimsCHAPTER TWO 33Important Legal Ramifications In Child Injury CasesCHAPTER THREE 41Dealing with the Insurance CompanyCHAPTER FOUR 48Children and Traumatic Brain InjuryCHAPTER FIVE 51The Legal Process for Child Injury ClaimsCHAPTER SIX 54The Wrongful Death of a ChildCHAPTER SEVEN 58The Settlement Process for a Child’s Injury ClaimCHAPTER EIGHT 64Determining the Value of a Child’s Injury Claim3
  4. 4. CHAPTER NINE 67Signing a Pre-injury release Document on Behalf of a ChildCHAPTER TEN 69The Benefits of Hiring a LawyerConclusion 754
  5. 5. LEGAL ADVICEI am not allowed to give legal advice in this book andyou should not take the information in the book aslegal advice. It is intended to be informative and toprovide you and your family with a basicunderstanding of your rights. If you hire my firm torepresent you or a family member for a case, I willfully explain to you your legal rights under Michiganlaw and assist you in filing your claims. If you havealready hired a lawyer before reading this book, youshould contact your lawyer with specific questionsabout your rights and benefits.Many cases resulting from serious injuries to childreninvolve complex legal issues or questions where theoutcomes are heavily, if not completely, influenced bythe individual facts of the case. Therefore, forspecific legal advice, it is advisable to consult with anattorney who has experience representing theinterests of children in injury claims. Anyone whowishes to consult with Mr. Buckfire about a specificcase can find his contact information at the back ofthis book.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN5
  6. 6. WHO I AM ANDWHY I WROTE THIS BOOKAs a Michigan personal lawyer for twenty years, Ihave represented seriously injured clients from babiesto senior citizens. As a parent of young children, I amvery aware that every parent’s biggest fear is theirchild being sick, injured, or harmed by another. As alawyer who has specialized in representing injuredchildren throughout my career, I have found itincredibly rewarding to bring them justice throughthe legal system.As you would expect, the big businesses, hospitals, andinsurance companies that are my adversaries in thesecases are very unsympathetic to an injured child.Rather than accept responsibility for their actionsthat caused harm upon a child, they deny fault andwage an aggressive defense, regardless of truth.When a child has been seriously injured, the parentsare often angry and sad, sometimes filled with guilt,and overwhelmed by the legal process that mayensue. It is therefore often wise to hire a lawyer, andthe lawyer should be one with experience in childinjury cases.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS6
  7. 7. I have earned a national reputation as a child injurylawyer and have recovered many millions of dollars insettlements for children. I never back down from myadversaries because I know that a child and hisparents are counting on me to win their case. I do nottake this responsibility lightly.I see many different types of accident cases involvingchildren. These include:• Auto Accidents• Boating Accidents• Birth Injury Cases• Medical Malpractice Cases• Traumatic Brain Injuries• Burn injuries• Child Abuse and Sexual Assault• Lead Poisoning• Animal and Dog Bites• School Injuries, including Bus Accidents andPlayground Injuries• Swimming pool accidents or drowning• Snow Ski Injuries• Summer Camp and Daycare injuries• Swing Set or Play Equipment Injuries• Defective or Dangerous Toys• Food Poisoning• Sports Injuries• ATV and Off Road Vehicle AccidentsTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN7
  8. 8. I wrote this book for several reasons. First, I wantedcreate awareness about the most common injuryaccidents involving children, so that parents and familymembers can take appropriate precautions to avoidthem. Second, I wanted to offer knowledge andcomfort to those parents who find themselves in theawful position of having a child who has beenseriously injured due to someone’s negligence orcarelessness. My final goal was to provide informationregarding the legal rights of injured children andexplain how our legal system can help remedy thewrongs of others and bring justice to a child. I hopethat you find this book to be a valuable resource.–LLaawwrreennccee JJ.. BBuucckkffiirree,, aattttoorrnneeyyLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS8
  9. 9. CHAPTER ONEBBaassiicc FFaaccttss:: CChhiillddrreenn,, AAcccciiddeennttss && LLeeggaall CCllaaiimmssAAuuttoo AAcccciiddeennttssBy far the most common type of injury accidentinvolving children is one that also involves a motorvehicle collision. According to the National Center forStatistics and Analysis (NCSA), nearly 250,000children are injured every year in car accidents. Thismeans that on any given day nearly 700 children areharmed due to accidents on our roadways. Of the250,000 kids injured each year, approximately 2,000die from their injuries. Children make up about 5%of total fatalities due to car accidents. In fact, forchildren between the ages of 2 and 14, motor vehicleaccidents are the leading cause of death.Car accidents are also the leading cause of acquireddisability (e.g., brain injury, paralysis) for childrennationwide. And approximately 20% of the childrenwho die in a car accident each year are killed inaccidents involving a driver who is legally intoxicated.Nearly half of these children were killed while ridingas passengers in an automobile driven by anintoxicated driver.The failure of a child to wear a seat belt or use asafety seat is a contributing factor in more than halfTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN9
  10. 10. of the cases involving children who die in caraccidents. Not only is an unrestrained child a potentialdistraction to the driver of the vehicle, but also thefailure to wear a seat belt dramatically increases thechance that a child will suffer much more seriousinjury or death.Under Michigan law, all children between the ages of0 and 3 years old are required to be properly securedin an approved child car seat. For children betweenthe age of 4 and 7 years of age, the legalrequirements vary based upon the size and weight ofthe child. If a child in that age group is less than4’9” in height, an approved child booster seat isrequired. If a child in that age group is taller than4’9”, the child must wear an approved and properlyfastened safety belt. All children who are ages 8through 15 years old must wear an approved andproperly fastened safety belt. All passengersbetween the ages 16 through 18 years old sitting inthe front seat, as well as the driver, must be properlybelted.Interestingly, children are not required to wear seatbelts while riding on a school bus. The NationalHighway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) hasdetermined that school busses already have “built-inprotection” for children based on the specialconstruction and side of bus seats, so that seat beltrestraints are unnecessary. However, school busLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS10
  11. 11. crashes occurring at speeds greater than 35 mph stillpose a serious risk of harm to children who are ridingon the bus.Schools should provide adequate adult supervisionwhile children are boarding and exiting the bus. Allbus stops should be located in safe locations thatminimize the need for children to cross the street.Parents are well advised to trace their child’s normalroute to and from school while identifying potentialdanger spots and also to instruct their child aboutwhere to walk and cross the street.PPeeddeessttrriiaann AAcccciiddeennttssIn cases involving children who die in traffic accidents,at least 30% involve children under the age of 15 whoare pedestrians. Pedestrians account for about 30%of all traffic fatalities involving children under theage of 15 years. NHTSA estimates that more thanone-fifth (22%) of children between the ages of 5and 9 who were killed in traffic crashes werepedestrians.Children under the age of 10 still need supervisionwhen crossing the street. Often times, a school-agechild will forget about vehicles traveling in the streetand dart out suddenly and without warning. Manypedestrian accidents involving school-age childrenTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN11
  12. 12. (ages 6 to 11) occur in the morning and afternoon,and at times when children are typically at play.Most child pedestrian accidents are preventable.Parents need to be educated about the developmentlimitations of their children in understanding thedangers of a motor vehicle. Parents can also teachyounger children about the dangers of playing nearthe roadway or when it is appropriate to cross thestreet. And finally, law enforcement can play a pivotalrole by diligently enforcing traffic laws in areas wherechildren are active and by making drivers aware ofpedestrian crossings.BBiiccyyccllee AAcccciiddeennttssOther than automobiles, bicycles are associated withmore childhood injuries than any other consumerproduct. More than 70% of children ages 5 to 14(27.7 million) ride bicycles. This age group rides 50%more than the average cyclist, accounting for 21% ofall bicycle-related deaths and nearly 50% of allbicycle-related injuries. More than 130 children dieevery year in bicycle accidents and approximately270,000 are treated in emergency rooms for injuries.1Nearly half of these children sustain a traumatic braininjury because of their failure to wear a helmet-orwear a safe and properly fitted helmet.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS12
  13. 13. Studies have shown that a properly fitted helmet canreduce the risk of bicycle-related brain injuries by asmuch as 88%. Properly fitted bike helmets canprevent an estimated 75% of fatal injuries to childreneach year. Motor vehicles are involved in approximately90% of the fatal bike crashes that happen each year.About 60% of child fatalities in bike-versus-autocrashes occur on residential streets. A child who doesnot wear a helmet is fourteen times more likely tosuffer a fatal crash than one who does. Clearly, thechances of injury and/or death decrease dramaticallywhen a child wears a protective helmet while ridinga bicycle.LLeeggaall CCllaaiimmss ffoorr CCaarr AAcccciiddeennttssIn Michigan, there are two (2) types of claims that achild may have due to injuries sustained in a caraccident. The first type of claim is for No-Faultinsurance benefits and is often referred to as a FirstParty claim or PIP (personal injury protection) claim.The second claim is a claim for damages due to bodilyinjuries against the negligent driver and owner of theat-fault vehicle. This claim is called a Third Partyclaim or Bodily Injury Liability claim.FFiirrsstt PPaarrttyy CCllaaiimmss ffoorr NNoo--FFaauulltt BBeenneeffiittssAll children injured due to a motor vehicle are entitledto Michigan No-Fault Insurance benefits, even if theirTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN13
  14. 14. parents or guardians did not have a Michigan autoinsurance policy, and they are entitled to receive themregardless of their own fault. For example, a child whodarts out in the street and is struck by a passingmotorist is still entitled to receive these benefits.There are many factors that determine whichinsurance company is responsible for paying No-Faultbenefits. In cases involving children, typically the No-Fault insurer that insures the child’s parents orrelatives has priority legal responsibility to pay forthe child’s No-Fault benefits. If there is no insurancein the household, then there are rules for determiningwhich insurer has the responsibility to pay for thechild’s benefits.In cases involving children, these benefits typicallyinclude unlimited lifetime medical expense coverage,medical mileage, attendant care and other benefits,such as home and vehicle modifications. If the childis a teenager and working, the benefits can includewage loss benefits for up to three years following theaccident.No-Fault benefits available to a child injured in amotor vehicle accident include all reasonable andnecessary expenses related to the accident. Allmedical bills that are reasonable and necessary andrelated to the car accident are covered by the No-Fault insurance company. These medical bills include,LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS14
  15. 15. but are not limited to, hospital bills, doctor bills,physical therapy bills, prescriptions, ambulance bills,medical appliances such as a wheel chair, walker, backbrace, etc., and transportation expenses for medicalappointments. There is no limit on the amount ofmoney that the No-Fault insurance company must payfor accident related medical treatment and thesebenefits are available for lifetime.In serious injury cases, family members often providein home attendant care to an injured child, while thechild recovers from his or her injuries. These benefitsare paid to have a person attend to the injured child’sneeds while he or she recovers from his or herinjuries. These services can include, but are not limitedto, assisting with toileting, showering, feeding,medications, and supervision. The care provider canbe a family member, friend, nurse or someone from anursing agency.Other benefits include transportation expenses formedical appointments and home modification expenses.Home modification benefits are paid when the injuredchild cannot comfortably live in his or her currenthome or apartment because of physical limitationscaused by injuries from the accident. The insurancecompany is required to pay for remodeling for itemssuch as handicapped ramps, additional rooms, widerdoorways, and even bathrooms and showers to makeit easier for an injured child to live in the home.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN15
  16. 16. There are strict time limits on First Party claims. Youmust file a written Application for No-Fault Benefitswith the proper insurance company who has priorityfor paying your child’s claims within one year of thedate of the accident. If you fail to do so, you will notbe able to obtain No-Fault Benefits. Also, writtenclaims for attendant care, wage loss benefits, medicalexpenses, household services, and other no-faultbenefits must be sent to the proper insurancecompany within one year of the date of the expense.If you fail to meet these deadlines, you will not beable to obtain recovery or reimbursement for theclaim or expense. In addition, if an insurer fails to paya medical bill, wage loss claim or any other claim, youmust file a lawsuit against the insurer within one yearthat the expense was incurred to preserve yourchild’s right to that particular claim.TThhiirrdd PPaarrttyy CCllaaiimmss ffoorr BBooddiillyy IInnjjuurryy DDaammaaggeessIn addition to the claim for No-Fault benefits, aninjured child may be entitled to make a claim fordamages due to pain and suffering against the driverat fault for the accident. A claim can also be madeagainst the owner of the car that caused theaccident. This claim is called a Third Party claim orBodily Injury Liability claim.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS16
  17. 17. If the driver of the other car was at fault in theaccident and a child suffered a serious injury ordisfigurement (like a scar), the child can sue thedriver and the owner of the other car. A claim ismade against the driver and owner of the car thatcaused the accident, and your child’s damages arecovered by their insurance company.Also, if your child is injured as a passenger in his orher parent’s car and the parent was at fault, the childcan make a claim against the parent. In these cases,the court appoints someone other than the parent toact as the child’s representative in the lawsuit.Typically, a person must file a Third Party lawsuit withthe court within three years of the date of theaccident. However, in cases involving children thedeadline in which to file the lawsuit is extended untilthe child’s 19thbirthday. In order to protect yourchild’s rights, we recommend that you contact anattorney immediately to find out the time limitationsinvolved in suing the driver and owner of the car thatcaused the accident.For a more detailed explanation and analysis of thelegal rights after a Michigan car accident, you canrequest our book “TThhee UUllttiimmaattee MMiicchhiiggaann CCaarr AAcccciiddeennttHHaannddbbooookk.” The book has been called the “best bookever written for consumers on their rights after aMichigan car accident.”THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN17
  18. 18. DDoogg BBiitteessAccording to the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention (CDC), an estimated 68 million dogs arekept as pets in the United States. More than onemillion dog bites are reported each year. And thereare estimates that an equal number of dog bites (onemillion) go unreported each year. Of the one million orso dog bites reported each year, about 60% involvean injury to a child. Approximately 70% of dog bitewounds are inflicted on the child’s face. Children ages5 to 9 have the highest dog-bite-related injuries.If you plan to have young children and a dog, it isbest to adopt the dog while it is young and introduceit to the children during the toddler age. However,dogs need to be introduced to children of all ages.Young toddlers will act differently around the dogthan a 10-year-old child will. Children should beinvolved with the training sessions of the dog. Thisallows the dog to experience the child as anauthoritative figure, thereby decreasing the chancesthat the dog will bite the child. Children should beinvolved in other caretaking activities, like feeding,grooming, and bathing the dog.Parents should never leave young children along witha dog, particularly if the dog has limited experiencewith that child. You can teach children to recognizefearful or aggressive behavior in a dog so they canLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS18
  19. 19. take steps to avoid or minimize the risk of a bite. Andfinally, parents should set good examples of how totreat the dog. Children tend to emulate their parents’behavior, which would include the parents’ interactionwith the dog.OOvveerrvviieeww ooff MMiicchhiiggaann DDoogg BBiittee LLaawwssIn Michigan, the law recognizes three potential causesof action arising out of a dog attack incident: (1)statutory strict liability; (2) common-law strict liability;(3) and common law negligence (including statutoryand ordinance violations).Michigan has enacted statutory strict liability underwhat is commonly referred to as the “Dog-BiteStatute.” Under this law, if a dog bites a person,without provocation, while the person is on publicproperty, or lawfully on private property, includingthe property of the owner of the dog, the owner ofthe dog is liable for any damages suffered by theperson bitten, regardless of the former viciousness ofthe dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.TThhiiss mmeeaannss tthhaatt iiff ssoommeeoonnee iiss bbiitttteenn wwhhiillee llaawwffuullllyy oonnppuubblliicc oorr pprriivvaattee pprrooppeerrttyy,, tthhee oowwnneerr ooff tthhee ddoogg iissaauuttoommaattiiccaallllyy lliiaabbllee ffoorr aannyy iinnjjuurryy oorr ddaammaaggee tthhee ddooggccaauusseess aass lloonngg aass tthhee ddoogg wwaass nnoott pprroovvookkeedd..THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN19
  20. 20. In addition to strict liability under the dog-bitestatute, Michigan law recognizes two other potentialcauses of action arising out of a dog attack incident:common-law strict liability and common law negligence(including statutory and ordinance violations).Some people believe that the one-bite rule is the lawin Michigan. This rule means that the owner is notliable or responsible if the dog had never bittenanyone before your incident. This law ddooeess nnoott eexxiissttin Michigan and dog owners are not entitled to a freebite.For a more detailed explanation and analysis of thelegal rights after a Michigan dog bite, you can requestour book “TThhee UUllttiimmaattee MMiicchhiiggaann DDoogg BBiittee && AAnniimmaallAAttttaacckk HHaannddbbooookk.”SScchhooooll && DDaayy CCaarree IInnjjuurriieessMany children spend a great part of their day in daycare or in school. Parents put a great deal of trustin these facilities to provide proper supervision andsafe environments for their children. When a child isinjured in one of these settings, there are severalpotential legal claims that can be pursued dependingon the nature of the injury and the type of accident.Possible legal claims for these types of child injuriesinclude the failure to provide proper supervision, theLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS20
  21. 21. failure to provide safe premises, the failure to keepthe child away from dangerous items, and the failureto prevent the child from being injured or bullied byother children. Most day care agencies and schoolsare insured for these types of claims.If the child is injured in a public school, there arecertain legal obstacles to overcome due to the grantsof immunity from being sued that Michigan law givesto public schools. An experienced child injury lawyerwill carefully review the facts of the case and adviseyou whether Michigan law permits the filing of aclaim.PPllaayyggrroouunndd IInnjjuurriieessThe CDC reports that more than 200,000 childrenages 14 and younger are treated at emergency roomseach year for playground-related injuries. About 45%of injuries on playgrounds are severe (i.e., fractures,internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, andamputations.) About 75% of nonfatal accidents occuron public playgrounds, with most occurring at schoolsand daycare centers. Between 1990 and 2000, therewere 147 deaths of children at or under the age of14. Fifty-six percent of these deaths were caused bystrangulation and 31% occurred due to falls onto theplayground surface. Most of the deaths (70%)occurred in home play areas.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN21
  22. 22. A child injured due to a playground injury has anumber of potential legal claims. These include claimsfor defective equipment, claims for a lack of protectivesafety measures, and claims for negligent supervision.Since many playground injuries occur on schoolgrounds and during school hours, there are legalobstacles that may prevent a claim, even for a veryserious injury, to be filed. It is important to contactan attorney as soon as possible after such an incidentso that a prompt investigation can be performed.SSwwiimmmmiinngg PPooooll aanndd WWaatteerr AAcccciiddeennttssThe CDC reports that there are on average nearly10 drowning accidents occurring every day. Morethan one in four fatal drowning accidents involvechildren ages 14 and younger. For every child whodrowns, there are at least 4 others who visit theemergency room for nonfatal submersion injuries.Nonfatal drowning injuries can be catastrophic andcan cause permanent brain damage, including problemswith learning and memory, and permanent loss ofbrain function.There are certain risk factors that exist for fatal andnonfatal drowning accidents. A major risk factor isthe absence of pool barriers; another is the absenceof parental supervision. Most pool accidents involvingchildren occur within minutes after the child was lastseen alive. Many pool incidents occur because theLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS22
  23. 23. child has easy access to the water. Drowning incidentsthat occur in natural settings like lakes, rivers, andoceans increase with the child’s age.Parents can take certain steps to minimize the risk ofa drowning incident. First, it is essential that childrenbe taught to swim at an early age. Most swim schoolsteach children how to get to the side of a pool andclimb out of a pool. Barriers and safety fences arealso essential to prevent children from entering intoa pool area itself, and pool alarms can alert a parentif a child enters into a pool without their knowledge.However, there is no substitute for continuous adultsupervision both when children are in the pool andeven outside of a pool. Do not let children useimproper inflatable devices without direct supervision.Toys like “water wings,” “noodles,” and “inner tubes”are not designed to keep swimmers safe. These toyscan give a child a false sense of security, therebyencouraging the child to take greater risks (e.g.,venturing out into deeper water). Also, do not engagein other distracting activities, like yard work, whilechildren are in the swimming pool. If you are unableto keep constant supervision, pull the children out ofthe pool until you are able to devote your completeattention to them.There are several legal theories that are used topursue claims for children injured in swimming poolTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN23
  24. 24. accidents. Claims for damages can be filed due to thelack of proper supervision, the failure to have safetydevices at the pool (life hook, life preserver,emergency phone), and even poor maintenance at thepool. In pools that are not properly maintained,children can have difficulty with their footing and maynot be observable if they are below a filthy watersurface. Also, the failure to have functioning poollights is a major risk factor, especially when childrenare swimming at night. These vary depending on thetype of pool and the location of the pool (residence,school, public, hotel, etc.) where the incident occurred.HHoouusseehhoolldd AAcccciiddeennttssHome injuries are one of the top reasons why childrenunder the age of 3 years visit the emergency room.Nearly 70% of children who die at home fromunintentional injuries are age 4 and younger. Youngchildren have the highest risk of being injured athome because that is where they spend most of theirtime. Examples of these types of accidents includefalling down stairs, ingesting poisonous substances,getting electrical shocks or burns, and being subjectto cuts or amputations from playing with sharp ordangerous objects.A child injured due to a dangerous or defectiveproduct may have a claim against the manufacturer orseller of the product that causes the injury. If theLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS24
  25. 25. accident occurs in someone else’s home, a claim canpotentially be made against the homeowner wherethe incident occurred if the child was unsupervised orpermitted to play with a dangerous object or arounda dangerous condition. The homeowner’s insurancecompany of that individual will often pay a settlementto the injured child.MMeeddiiccaall MMaallpprraaccttiicceeChildren who are victims of medical malpractice oftensuffer significant injury or death during the birthingprocess. Birth injuries include cerebral palsy, shoulderdystocia, Erb’s palsy and other injuries that ariseduring pregnancy or at the time of birth. Defectsand neurological injuries caused at or before birthoften affect the child and the family for a lifetime.Medical negligence cases involving children includedeath and permanent brain damage. Because medicalnegligence cases are often settled or resolvedconfidentially, there is no reliable database to showthe actual number of children who are victims ofmedical negligence. Many times the negligence goesunreported due to the parents’ unawareness and/orbecause the child’s injuries are less than catastrophicor severe.The legal basis for most medical malpractice cases isthe failure of the medical provider to timely diagnoseTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN25
  26. 26. and treat a medical condition or illness. TThhee mmoossttccoommmmoonn ttyyppeess ooff ccoonnddiittiioonnss oorr iillllnneesssseess tthhaatt ggiivvee rriisseettoo aa cchhiilldd mmeeddiiccaall mmaallpprraaccttiiccee ccaassee iinncclluuddee:• Birth Injuries & Defects• Cerebral Palsy• Erb’s Palsy• Shoulder Dystocia• Jaundice• Meningitis• Pneumonia• Appendicitis• Testicular Torsion• Lyme’s Disease• Hip DysplasiaIn addition to proving negligence by a medicalprofessional, the victim must also establish that theultimate outcome would have been better had themalpractice not occurred. For example, a doctor mightfail to timely diagnose appendicitis in a childcomplaining of severe abdominal pain, but if thediagnosis is ultimately made and the child undergoesthe necessary surgery without any additional injuriesor damages, there would be no case. This is simplybecause the medical error did not result in anadditional injury to the child.Also, many procedures and surgeries have thepotential for complications and a bad result orLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS26
  27. 27. outcome may just be a normal risk of the procedure.In addition, many illnesses and conditions have a poorprognosis even with the best possible medical care.Therefore, a poor outcome or injury does notnecessarily mean that there was malpracticecommitted by the medical provider.To pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is necessarythat a physician review the medical records and signan Affidavit stating that the child’s doctor or a hospitalprovided negligent medical treatment. An experiencedmedical malpractice lawyer will seek out the bestpossible medical experts to review the records andgive an opinion as to whether the child was the victimof medical malpractice.For a more detailed explanation and analysis of thelegal rights regarding medical malpractice cases inMichigan, you can request our book “TThhee UUllttiimmaatteeMMiicchhiiggaann MMeeddiiccaall MMaallpprraaccttiiccee HHaannddbbooookk.”LLeeaadd PPooiissoonniinnggLead poisoning is a devastating injury to childrenthroughout the United States. Lead is a neurotoxinthat affects a young child’s developing central nervoussystem. Children are especially vulnerable to theeffects of lead poisoning.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN27
  28. 28. The degree of lead exposure is measured by a bloodtest. Most often, the diagnosis of lead poisoning isdiscovered through routine health department testsor pre-school admission examinations. Blood lead levelsare measured in “micrograms” of lead per “deciliter” ofblood, or “ug/dL.” As determined by the Center forDisease Control, any level over 10 ug/dL is consideredto be an elevated level and a child would be at risk.A level over 20 ug/dL is considered high and requiresfull medical evaluation. A level over 40 ug/dL requiresprompt medical attention and a level over 70 ug/dl iscritical and can result in coma or even death.The injuries caused by lead poisoning are welldocumented. The effects are permanent andirreversible and often become more noticeable as achild ages and the tasks in school become moredifficult. A common diagnosis of lead poisoned childrenis attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity (ADHD),learning problems, speech and language impairments,and decreased IQ. and brain. The treatment for leadconsists of removing a poisoned child from theenvironment, provided a high iron diet, and quite oftenincludes chelation therapy.Lead-based paint is the biggest lead hazard in ourenvironment. The primary source of the lead isthrough chipping and peeling lead-based paint andthrough the inhalation of dust particles. The federalgovernment estimates that lead paint is present inLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS28
  29. 29. three out of four homes built before 1978, but onlyhomes that are not properly maintained constitutepotential hazards to children.The biggest hazards are often on window sills and inwindow troughs, where there is frequent frictionwhich causes the old paint to peel and chip. Otherprimary sources include outdoor porches and soilaround the home, where child often play with paintchips that have fallen from the exterior of theproperty. More recently, toys imported from Chinahave been found to contain lead paint and this hasraised additional concerns.Children who suffer lead poisoning have severalpossible legal claims. The primary defendant in thesecases are landlords who rented homes or apartmentsto the child’s family and failed to properly maintainthe lead based paint surfaces inside or outside thehome. A child who is lead poisoned as a result can filea lawsuit alleging that the landlord violated the dutyto provide safe and sanitary housing and also violatedMichigan statutes and local ordinances.Other claims for child lead poisoning can be broughtagainst property management companies, maintenancecompanies, and other locations where a child is leadpoisoned, like a school or daycare center. Additionally,if a child is poisoned due to a defective toy or otherTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN29
  30. 30. product, a claim can be made against the maker,distributor, and seller of the product.CChhiilldd AAbbuussee//SShhaakkeenn BBaabbyy SSyynnddrroommeeChild abuse can take many forms. It can manifestitself as the slow and insidious chronic neglect of achild by their primary caregiver, or it can be asshockingly apparent as a broken limb or a shakenbaby. Often, a single child will experience more thanone kind of abuse or neglect. Tragically, more than2,000 children die each year from child abuse andneglect across the United States.Federal law provides a foundation definition of childabuse and neglect in The Child Abuse Prevention andTreatment Act (CAPTA), which individual States mustincorporate into their own definitions. Basically, childabuse and neglect can be separated into fourcategories: physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse,and sexual abuse.One form of physical abuse is known as “Shaken BabySyndrome,” a type of inflicted traumatic brain injurythat happens when a baby is violently shaken. A babyhas weak neck muscles and a large, heavy head.Shaking makes the fragile brain bounce back andforth inside the skull and causes bruising, swelling,and bleeding, which can lead to permanent, severebrain damage or death.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS30
  31. 31. Shaken baby injuries usually occur in children youngerthan 2 years old, but may be seen in children up tothe age of 5. Emergency treatment for a baby whohas been shaken usually includes life-sustainingmeasures, such as respiratory support and surgery tostop internal bleeding and bleeding in the brain.Doctors may use brain scans, such as MRI and CT, tomake a more definite diagnosis. In comparison withaccidental traumatic brain injury in infants, shakenbaby injuries have a much worse prognosis. Childrenwith shaken baby syndrome often require lifelongmedical care.If you suspect that a child is being abused andneglected, the best thing you can do to protect thatchild is to take action immediately. It is veryimportant to act quickly before that child’s life isirrevocably altered by a catastrophic event resultingfrom the abuse or neglect. Not only is acting quicklyin the child’s best interest, but it is also the law.Anyone who could have prevented the child’s injuryor could have reported the suspected abuse beforethe child was affected could be held liable fordamages if they fail to act.It is important to know that in many states, includingMichigan, that most health practitioners and child careprofessionals, including teachers, are required toreport suspected cases of abuse or neglect in atimely manner. The failure to report suspected childTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN31
  32. 32. abuse in a timely manner can result in significantadditional injuries to the child. The failure toinvestigate and report suspected child abuse can giverise to a civil lawsuit for physical injuries, disability,pain and suffering, medical bills, and future lostwages sustained by the injured child.For a more detailed explanation and analysis of thelegal rights regarding personal injury cases inMichigan, you can request our book “TThhee UUllttiimmaatteeGGuuiiddee ttoo IInnjjuurryy CCaasseess iinn MMiicchhiiggaann.”LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS32
  33. 33. CHAPTER TWOIImmppoorrttaanntt LLeeggaall RRaammiiffiiccaattiioonnssIInn CChhiilldd IInnjjuurryy CCaasseessDDooeess aa LLeeggaall CCllaaiimm EExxiisstt??A child may have a legal claim arising from an injuryaccident. A legal claim arises when the child is entitledto compensation for the injuries and damagesproximately caused by the accident. Whether a childhas a legal claim for injuries sustained in an accidentwill depend on many different factors.Generally, a child will only have a legal right torecover compensation if the injuries were caused byanother party’s negligence. In Michigan, the term“negligence” is defined as a person’s failure toexercise “ordinary care,” or the kind of care thatwould be deemed appropriate in the particularsituation that led to the child’s injury. Not only cana person be found negligent, but so can a corporationsand governmental agencies.Oftentimes, it is easy to determine whether a partywas negligent, such as when a driver runs a stop signor fails to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Theviolation of a known rule, statute, or regulation canalso provide evidence of a party’s negligence. Forexample, if a person injures a child and also violatesTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN33
  34. 34. a statute or regulation while doing so, that violationmay be admissible in a subsequent trial to prove thatthe person was negligent.NNeegglliiggeennccee ooff tthhee CChhiillddUnder Michigan law, a child under the age of 7 yearsold cannot be found to be negligent. This means thatany time a child under age 7 has a legal claim forinjuries caused by an accident, that child is deemedfault-free for purposes of deciding which partynegligently caused that child’s injuries. A child 7 yearsand older can be held to be negligent.For example, if a 4 year old child jumps into aswimming pool at a neighbor’s home with no adultspresent, the neighbor may be negligent for failing tosupervise the child at his home. However, the childcannot also be determined to be negligent for jumpingin the pool without adults present based upon agealone. If the child was 10 years old, the neighborcould argue that the child should have known betterand should be apportioned a percentage of the fault.Even though a child of 7 years and older can be foundnegligent, the child is held to a different standardthan an adult under Michigan law. A child is onlynegligent if that child fails to exercise the ordinarycare that a “reasonably careful child of the same age,capacity, and experience would exercise under theLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS34
  35. 35. same or similar circumstances.” Thus, a 7 year old isheld to a different standard as an 11 year old. Anexception to this rule exists where the minor engagesin a dangerous and adult activity, for example, drivingan automobile. In this circumstance, he or she ischarged with the same standard of conduct as anadult.PPaarreennttaall NNeegglliiggeennccee aanndd PPaarreennttaall IImmmmuunniittyyUsually when a child has been injured in an accident,the conduct of the child’s parents is called intoquestion. Typically, the insurance company will try toblame the parents and argue that the child wasinjured in large part due to the parents’ failure toadequately supervise the child. But this argumentoften fails because Michigan recognizes that theconduct of a parent is often protected by what iscalled the Parental Immunity Doctrine.Under this doctrine, a negligent parent is immunefrom liability for injuries caused to the child wherethe conduct of the parent involved: (1) an exercise ofreasonable parental authority or (2) reasonableparental discretion regarding the provision of food,clothing, housing, medical and dental services, andother care. The Parental Immunity Doctrine is basedupon the public policy of maintaining family tranquilityand avoiding the fear of undermining parents’ controland authority over their children.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN35
  36. 36. The courts in Michigan have rejected numerousattempts to blame a parent for injuries caused to thechild based on allegations of inadequate supervision.Thus, if a parent fails to supervise a child’s behavior,he or she is immune from liability for any injury thatmay result from that negligence, even when the child’sinjury is severe.However, child abuse or neglect is not a reasonableexercise of parental discretion. Also, the ParentalImmunity Doctrine does not apply when the child’sinjuries are due to the parent’s negligent driving. Thatmeans a child is still permitted to pursue a legal claimagainst his parent if the injuries arose from a caraccident that was caused by the parent.SSttaattuuee ooff LLiimmiittaattiioonnssThere are strict time deadlines, called the Statute ofLimitations, for filing lawsuits in Michigan. The timelimits are different on when a person may bring alegal clam arising from an injury accident. This is nodifferent for claims brought by children. However, thegeneral rule in the State of Michigan is that a childhas until the child’s 19th birthday to bring a claim,even if the general limitations period is much shorter.For example, the statute of limitations for a dog bitecase in Michigan is three from the date of the injury.This means that a person must file a lawsuit withinLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS36
  37. 37. three years of the date of the incident or the claimwill be forever time-barred. However, if a 4 year oldchild is bitten by a dog, the child still has until his 19thbirthday to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. Thisallows the child to make his own decision afterbecoming a legal adult to file a lawsuit, even thoughthe child’s parents decided not to do so many yearsearlier.It is usually not a good idea to wait this long toresolve the claim, especially if the case involvesinjuries to a younger child. With the passage of time,it often becomes difficult to locate witnesses andother evidence that his necessary to prove and win acase. However, certain exceptions may justify waitinguntil after the age of majority, depending on the factsof the claim.There is a different statute of limitations period formedical malpractice cases involving children inMichigan. Children are not given until their 19thbirthday to file their lawsuit. For medical malpracticecases involving a minor less than eight years of age,the statute begins to run on the minor’s 10th birthdayor within the two-year medical malpractice statute oflimitations, whichever time period is greater. Where aminor under 13 suffers an injury to the reproductivesystem, the statute begins to run on the minor’s 15thbirthday or within the general two-year statute oflimitations, whichever time period is greater. ThereTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN37
  38. 38. are also requirements even before a malpractice casecan be filed in Michigan and these also have specificdeadlines.Due to the complexity of these time limits anddeadlines, it is important to contact an attorney assoon as possible even if you are only considering filinga lawsuit so that the claims are not later destroyeddue to a missed deadline.CCllaaiimmss AAggaaiinnsstt tthhee GGoovveerrnnmmeennttThere are occasions where a child is injured and thepotential defendant is a government entity. Possiblecases against governmental entities include injuriesthat occur in school or in a public building, due to adefect in a roadway or sidewalk, or as a result ofmedical malpractice in a state or government hospital.If a child has a claim against a governmental entity,such as a town, municipality, county, or state, certainrequirements must first be met. Primarily, severalstatutes in Michigan require that the governmentalentity be put on formal written notice of the potentialclaim within a specified time frame. This can be as soonas sixty days after the accident for certain types ofcases.This time deadline is completely different than thestatute of limitations and this period is not extendedLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS38
  39. 39. until the child’s 19thbirthday. Therefore, if parentsbelieve that a governmental entity was negligent forinjuries to their child, they should pursue the caseimmediately so that they do not miss a requireddeadline.CChhiillddrreenn TTeessttiiffyyiinngg iinn CCoouurrttIf a lawsuit has been filed to recover financialcompensation for a child’s injuries, that child may becalled to testify in court. However, most casesinvolving children never go to trial. Therefore, thechances that a child will be forced to testify in courtare extremely low.The general rule in Michigan is that every person,regardless of age, is competent to testify unless thecourt finds otherwise. However, a child’s competenceto testify may be a potential issue whenever veryyoung children are involved. Nonetheless, children asyoung as four (4) years old have been allowed totestify. The burden of proving that a child isincompetent to be a witness is on the personchallenging the competence.The test for a child’s competency to testify is whethera child has the capacity and sense of obligation totestify truthfully and understandably. It is a matterof a trial judge’s discretion as to whether a child iscompetent to testify.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN39
  40. 40. LLiikkeelliihhoooodd ooff GGooiinngg ttoo CCoouurrttMost child injury cases settle without going to courtor trial. Statistically speaking, the chance that atypical personal injury case will go to trial isextremely small, probably less than 5% of all cases.The likelihood that a personal injury case involving aminor child will go to court is probably even smaller.In cases where the evidence of liability against thedefendant is strong and the injuries are fairly serious,the likelihood of the case going to court will be evensmaller.Despite the low probability of a child injury case evergoing to court, the case should nevertheless bethoroughly prepared as if it were going to trial.Insurance companies and their attorneys will notagree to pay a premium settlement offer unless theyare convinced that there exists a strong possibility ofa jury awarding much more money if the case wereto go to trial. A case that has been completely andthoroughly prepared will therefore increase thelikelihood that the case will settle short of trial.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS40
  41. 41. CHAPTER THREEDDeeaalliinngg wwiitthh tthhee IInnssuurraannccee CCoommppaannyyIn those cases where a child has been injured by anegligent party with insurance, the parents may haveto deal directly with the insurance company if theyhad not yet hired a lawyer. Parents will need toaddress questions of liability and damages, includingpayment for the past and future medical expensesand other damages incurred by the child. This can bea daunting and intimidating task. The parents of theinjured child are already under a tremendous amountof stress, given the traumatic nature of their child’sinjury.Insurance adjustors are trained to take advantage ofpeople who do not have legal representation so thatthe insurance company can resolve or settle the claimas cheaply as possible. The adjuster may act friendlyand interested in helping the family of an injuredchild, but adjuster’s ultimate goal is to convince thefamily that there is no case and encourage them toaccept a small settlement. He may offer to pay aportion of the medical expenses but will deny anyclaims for the actual injuries themselves.Adjustors are also trained to take recordedstatements from accident victims and witnesseswithout an attorney present. They often try to getTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN41
  42. 42. the interviewee to admit things that are either nottrue or partially true and many times the persondoes not even understand the question. The adjusterthen gives this statement the insurance companylawyer to use against the victim later on in court. Iwould strongly advise any parent from speaking to aninsurance adjuster without having a lawyer present. Ifyou do decide to give a statement to the adjuster,definitely do not let the adjuster record theconversation.Here are some of the other tactics the adjuster willuse against claimants so they will accept much lessmoney than what the claim is worth:1. UUssiinngg ddeellaayy ttaaccttiiccss. The adjuster is a master ofusing delay tactics to wear people down. He orshe knows that many people (80-90%,according to some insurance company estimates)will grow tired of the delaying tactics andsimply throw up their hands and say, “Enough!”These people will accept the low-ball offerjust to be done with the entire unpleasantprocess.2. RReeqquueessttiinngg uunnnneecceessssaarryy iinnffoorrmmaattiioonn. Yes, it’strue that the insurance company will needrecords, receipts, bills, reports, and otherdocumentation to support the claim. Butsometimes the request for documentation isLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS42
  43. 43. unnecessary-for example, asking for medicalrecords from 10 years before the accident, orasking for tax returns from the same period.Such information typically is unnecessary andis only requested to delay resolution of theclaim. Insurance adjustors know that repeatedrequests for unnecessary documentation caneasily frustrate people and wear them down sothat they are more likely to accept a lowsettlement offer.3. DDiissppuuttiinngg tthhee mmeeddiiccaall ttrreeaattmmeenntt.. Despite theabsence of any medical training, the adjustermay question the need for treatment orcertain procedures or worse: second-guessyour own doctor. Many times it does not matterto the adjuster that your treatment has beenrecommended by a reputable licensed physician.4. DDiissppuuttiinngg tthhee mmeeddiiccaall cchhaarrggeess. Sometimes theadjuster will only agree to “accept” 70, 80, or90% of your past medical charges. Again, suchan assertion is made without having anymedical background to support such a position.When “nickel and diming” the consumer, thewell-trained adjuster knows that most peoplewill not hire a lawyer to challenge the refusalto pay a small portion of the medical bills.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN43
  44. 44. The problem is that as a parent you areresponsible for all medical bills for your childand will have to pay out of your own pocketwhatever the insurance adjuster does not pay.If the adjuster tells you that the medicalprovider will accept payment of 50% of the billas payment in full, this is usually not true. Ifyou are inclined to take this risk, I wouldsuggest getting something in writing from themedical provider accepting a partial paymentas a payment in full.5. TTeelllliinngg yyoouu nnoott ttoo hhiirree aann aattttoorrnneeyy. Sometimesthe insurance company will tell you that hiringan attorney is unnecessary. This is illegal.Other times, the adjuster will try to preventyou from retaining an attorney by falselystating that any settlement money you receivewill go entirely to the attorney. Still, othertimes the adjuster may threaten to “deny” theclaim if you hire a lawyer. If a claimsrepresentative tries to steer you away fromretaining an attorney, this should be your firstclue that using an attorney may actuallyproduce a much higher recovery for you (evenafter deducting the attorney’s fee).6. MMiissrreepprreesseennttiinngg iinnssuurraannccee ppoolliiccyy bbeenneeffiittss.Sometimes the adjuster will misrepresent theamount of the insurance coverage that isLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS44
  45. 45. available to you. Or worse, the adjuster won’ttell you that the or certain types of benefitseven exist. This tactic may be used to enticeyou into accepting a smaller settlement thanthe injured child deserves to receive.This is especially true in cases involvingbusiness and corporate defendants who mighthave umbrella insurance policies, which are highlimit insurance policies that are added to theregular liability policy. The adjuster may tellyou the limits of the liability policy withoutdisclosing to you that there is a substantialumbrella or “excess” policy. If you learn aboutthis umbrella policy after you settle your caseand have signed a release of all claims, yourchild is out of luck and can never come backand obtain more compensation in the future.Misrepresenting insurance policy information isalso common in auto accident and pedestrianaccident cases. The adjuster may not revealthe actual insurance policy limits or anyumbrella policies and may also not disclose thatcertain types of insurance coverage can be“stacked” on each other to provide morecoverage. The adjuster may also not tell youabout your own auto insurance coverage thatmay help your child, like uninsured motorist’sTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN45
  46. 46. coverage and underinsured motorists coverage.These may also substantially increase anysettlement that your child might receive.7. AAccttiinngg aass yyoouurr ffrriieenndd. There are times whenthe claims adjuster will “befriend” you andmake it appear that he or she is watching outfor your interests when in fact that is not thecase. Sometimes the adjuster will give youadvice about the type or frequency of yourmedical treatment, and then decide later on notto pay for the treatment because it is“excessive.”8. MMaakkee ffaallssee pprroommiisseess. There are times whenthe adjuster will make promises to you that heor she knows can’t be met. The adjuster’sprimary loyalty is to his/her employer (theinsurance company) and to his/her insured (thenegligent party). Any adjuster who makespromises “for your benefit” inherently creates aconflict of interest. Oftentimes the adjusteralready knows that a conflict is created bypromising to protect your interests, but he/sheknows this is the one way to get you to loweryour guard and get you to agree to terms thatyour attorney would never allow.There are just a few of the tactics theinsurance industry will use to accomplish itsLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS46
  47. 47. goal of getting parents to accept smallersettlements for their injured children. Parentsneed to be aware that they are dealing withprofessional negotiators who strive to fulfillthe insurance company’s primary objective: tosettle claims for much less than they areworth. Lower settlements mean biggercompany profits. If parents begin to feeloverwhelmed, they should not hesitate toconsult with an attorney who has expertise inchild injury claims.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN47
  48. 48. CHAPTER FOURCChhiillddrreenn aanndd TTrraauummaattiicc BBrraaiinn IInnjjuurryyUnfortunately, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is verycommon among children who are victims in accidents.According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearlyone million children suffer a traumatic brain injury(TBI) each year.3More than 100,000 of these childrenrequire hospitalization. These figures probablyunderestimate the incident rate of TBI among childrenbecause many children require hospitalization.In my practice I regularly see TBI cases involvingchildren who display a complex array of problemsfollowing head trauma. These include:1. PPhhyyssiiccaall iimmppaaiirrmmeennttss. These include speech,vision, and hearing impairments, as well as lightsensitivity, headaches, seizures, partialparalysis of one or both sides of the body, andbalance problems.2. CCooggnniittiivvee iimmppaaiirrmmeennttss. These include long- andshort-term memory issues, impairedconcentration, mental processing difficulties,and language problems.3. PPssyycchhoossoocciiaall,, bbeehhaavviioorraall,, aanndd eemmoottiioonnaalliimmppaaiirrmmeennttss. These problems can manifest asLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS48
  49. 49. fatigue, emotional outbursts, inability to controlanger, depression, personality changes,impaired coping skills, and the feeling of beingoverwhelmed in response to normal dailyactivities.Since most brain injury cases in litigation involve mildTBI (MTBI), the existence of the condition is often acentral and disputed issue in the case. Most of thetime the MTBI victim’s diagnostic imaging tests (i.e.,X-ray, CT and MRI scans) will appear normal. This isbecause the damage to brain tissue, consisting ofnerve fibers and cells, is often microscopic andtherefore may not be detected by conventionalradiology imaging techniques.Many times, a child will be tested by aneuropsychologist to determine the extent of theinjuries and impairments of brain function. Theneuropsychologist uses a written battery of tests andinterviews occurring over the course of a few hoursin one day, or several hours over a few days, to helpmeasure brain impairment or dysfunction. The testresults on children can provide information on thechild’s ability to learn, communicate, plan, organize,and relate to other people. The neuropsychologicalassessment will provide critical information thatparents and teachers can use to build effectiveeducational plans for the brain-injured child.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN49
  50. 50. In cases involving children who have suffered atraumatic brain injury, monetary compensation can besought for the child’s pain and suffering, disability,loss of social pleasures, and other non-economicdamages. Other claims for damages are made forspecial education needs, special housing needs, andnecessary supervision for the safety of the child. Inaddition, claims for a child’s loss of potential earningsover the child’s lifetime are made to show the amountof earnings a child lost due to a brain injury.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS50
  51. 51. CHAPTER FIVETThhee LLeeggaall PPrroocceessss ffoorr CChhiilldd IInnjjuurryy CCllaaiimmssThe legal process for child injury claims differs fromthe legal process for cases brought by adults. Forstarters, a child under the age of 18 is considered aminor. In Michigan, a minor cannot file a lawsuit on hisor her own. This can only be done by a guardian adlitem appointed by the court. A guardian ad litem issomeone (usually a parent or legal guardian) who thecourt believes will adequately protect the child’sinterests and do what is best for the child in thelawsuit that is being filed on the child’s behalf.The person who files a lawsuit is called the plaintiff.The person or entity that is being sued is called thedefendant. The defendant will most likely berepresented by a lawyer hired by the insurancecompany to defend the case.After the lawsuit is filed and the defendant is served,both sides participate in a process of asking for andexchanging information about the case. This processis called discovery. This includes written questions toeach other, requests for documents and records, andobtaining medical records and reports.The discovery process may also include a deposition.A deposition is a face-to-face meeting where theTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN51
  52. 52. attorneys are allowed to ask a witness questionsunder oath while a court reporter transcribes thesession. Depending on the age of the child, thedefense attorney may elect to take the child’sdeposition. The parent or guardian is allowed to sitwith the child during the proceeding and the child’sattorney is also present.The discovery phase may also include a request bythe other side that the child submit to medicalexaminations, or a psychological or neuropsychologicalevaluation, or all three. When a lawsuit involves aclaim for personal and psychological injuries, the lawpermits the defendant to use a doctor or psychologistchosen by the defense to examine and evaluate theinjured person. This can be a stressful event,particularly in cases involving children.Many attempts are made to settle the case afterdiscovery has taken place. This includes mediations andsettlement conferences with the court. The parentswork with their child’s attorney during this processto obtain a settlement that is in the best interest ofthe child. Quite often, a mediator will be appointedby the court to assist the parties in working out asettlement.If the case does not settle, it will proceed to trial. Ata trial, a judge or jury will listen to the testimonyand review evidence presented to them. At theLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS52
  53. 53. conclusion, a verdict will be rendered in favor of oneof the parties.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN53
  54. 54. CHAPTER SIXTThhee WWrroonnggffuull DDeeaatthh ooff aa CChhiillddNothing is perhaps more tragic or sad than thewrongful death of a child. The pain of the loss maybe magnified even more because of the manner inwhich the child died – for example, if the child’s deathwas due to another person’s negligence or could havebeen prevented with reasonable safety precautions.Because this book covers the subject of child injuryclaims, it would not be complete without addressingthe subject of a child’s wrongful death caused byanother’s negligent or reckless conduct. There arespecial laws in place that address this type of claim.While clearly no amount of money will ever bringback the child or make up for such a terrible loss,the law recognizes such a claim and gives a parent aspecific right of redress against the responsible party.The recovery of compensation may play a part inholding the responsible party accountable for such aterrible harm, and may also act as a deterrent tofuture similar acts. The claim may also assist parentsin the grieving process and help bring closure,although the memory of that event will almostcertainly never go away. For those parents who areexperiencing such a tragic loss, I want this chapter tomake them aware of the specific laws, procedures,LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS54
  55. 55. and issues that may arise in a wrongful death casebrought for the death of their child.In Michigan, a wrongful death claim is governed bycertain laws called statutes. A wrongful death claimis based on statutory laws – as opposed to commonlaw, which are laws created by our courts in otherpast cases. The laws governing such a claim maydiffer from state to state. Usually, but not always,the law of the state where the death occurred will bethe law that controls the cause of action against theresponsible party.MMiicchhiiggaann’’ss WWrroonnggffuull DDeeaatthh LLaawwIn Michigan, parents, siblings, and grandparents mayrecover damages for the loss of a minor child, but astepparent may not recover unless he or she adoptedthe child. These claims are subject to the MichiganWrongful Death Act. The damages include loss ofsociety and companionship, loss of support, andeconomic loss. The estate of the deceased child canalso be compensated for the child’s conscious pain andsuffering.In certain circumstances, parents, siblings, and otherkin of a deceased child have been precluded fromwrongful death recovery. For example a child’sestranged biological father was denied recovery forcompanionship damages where he had not developedTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN55
  56. 56. a family relationship with his two-year-old daughter.In addition, a grandparent who had been estrangedfrom a grandchild for 13 years and made no attemptto maintain a relationship was excluded from theproceeds of a wrongful death settlement.WWrroonnggffuull DDeeaatthh ooff aa FFeettuussUnder Michigan law, a person can recover damages ifconduct against a pregnant woman causes amiscarriage or stillbirth or causes physical injury toor the death of the embryo or fetus, regardless ofgestational age. Under the law, the death of anembryo or fetus is to be treated as any other deathfor purposes of a wrongful death action, and viabilityof the fetus is not an issue.LLeeggaall PPrroocceessss ffoorr WWrroonnggffuull DDeeaatthh CCllaaiimmThe legal process for a wrongful death case is similarto other types of injury cases, except that the onlyperson who may legally bring a claim is the PersonalRepresentative (PR) of the child’s estate. The PR mustbe appointed by the court. A petition is filed that asksthe court to appoint a person as the PR. In the caseof the wrongful death of a child, the PR is often aparent (unless, of course, a conflict exists). The PRwill then have full authority to proceed with thelawsuit and agree to a settlement.”LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS56
  57. 57. DDaammaaggeess ffoorr WWrroonnggffuull DDeeaatthh ooff aa CChhiillddAs discussed earlier, the damages recoverable for thewrongful death of a child include loss of society andcompanionship, loss of support, and economic loss. Theestate of the deceased child can also be compensatedfor his or her conscious pain and suffering.Evidence of the child’s role in the family, relationshipwith other family members, and quality and length oftime spent with family members are all elements ofthe loss of the child’s society and companionship.When a parent seeks recovery for damages sustainedbecause of the wrongful death of a child, the parent’scomparative negligence is relevant to the issue of theparent’s damages. However, the comparative negligenceof the parent may not be imputed to the child indetermining damages to the estate of the child forconscious pain and suffering.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN57
  58. 58. CHAPTER SEVENTThhee SSeettttlleemmeenntt PPrroocceessss ffoorr aa CChhiilldd’’ss IInnjjuurryy CCllaaiimmIn Michigan, there are special conditions that mustbe met in the settlement of a child injury claim. Inevery settlement of a minor’s claim, whether filed incourt or not, there must be approval of thesettlement by either a circuit court or probate courtjudge. This is true whether your child wasrepresented by an attorney or whether you handledthe case yourself.The court may also appoint a Guardian Ad Litem,usually an attorney, to review the facts and injuriesand make a written recommendation to the courtregarding the sufficiency of the proposed settlement.This is way that the legal system ensures that thesettlement is in the best interest of the child and isfair and reasonable.For every settlement involving a child, a writtenpetition must be filed with the court requestingapproval of the settlement. The court then sets ahearing to listen to testimony regarding the case andthe reasons that the person brining the claim believesthat the settlement is in the best interest of thechild. The person bringing the claim on behalf of thechild and the child must be present at the hearingwith their attorney.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS58
  59. 59. The court requires that evidence of the child’s injuryand medical treatment be presented at the hearing tojustify the settlement amount. If the child hasdisfiguring scars from an injury, the judge will wantto look at them. Depending on the location of thescars, the judge will look at them in open court andthen describe on the “record” what was observed. Inother situations, the judge will look at photographs ofthe scars before approving the settlement.The court must also approve the attorney’s fees andcosts associated with the representation of the child.Most times, the attorney’s fees are charged pursuantto a signed Contingency Fee Agreement that sets theattorney’s fee as a percentage of the settlement. Theattorney’s fee is usually paid from the settlementrecovered on behalf of the child.At the conclusion of the hearing, the court enters anOrder Approving Settlement of Minor. The Orderspecifies that the settlement is reasonable and in thebest interest of the child. It also approves therequested attorney’s fees and costs. This documentpermits the parties to then sign any remainingpaperwork to finalize the settlement and to obtainthe settlement funds.There are a number of ways that a court will permitthe settlement funds to be placed. Because the fundsbelong to the child, the court is very protective ofTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN59
  60. 60. those funds and has specific requirements and rulesabout accessing and spending the money. Parents andguardians are not given free discretion to spend themoney, even though it may be well intentioned,without first obtaining court permission.RReessttrriicctteedd AAccccoouunnttss ffoorr MMiinnoorrssOne option is to place the settlement funds in arestricted account with a major bank. These fundsmay not be accessed by the child until the child turns18 years of age. The account may only be accessedsooner with a court order. Usually, the judge will notallow the child or the child’s parents to access thefunds before the child’s 18th birthday unless there isgood reason, such as to pay for the child’s ongoingmedical treatment or educational needs. The courtmay specifically restrict the bank from allowingwithdraws or expenditures of the account fundswithout court permission.AAnnnnuuiittyy PPuurrcchhaassee//SSttrruuccttuurreedd SSeettttlleemmeennttssAnother option is to use the settlement proceeds topurchase an annuity, or structured settlement, onbehalf of the child. An annuity will provide a streamof payments to the child at different time intervalsover the child’s lifetime. This can include a monthlyallowance until the child turns 18 years old and thenpayments on a specified basis after the child turns 18LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS60
  61. 61. years old. These future payments are considered tax-free. Usually, an annuity is recommended for largersums of money because the rate of return is muchbetter than that of a standard bank account orcertificate of deposit.One advantage of purchasing an annuity is that theparent can design the payment schedule to the child,even into adulthood. This essentially protects the childfrom spending the entire settlement just afterturning 18. For instance, future payments can be madeon an annual basis lasting several years, or on abiannual, or quarterly basis. A lump sum balloonpayment can be structured after providing for upfrontsmaller payments after the child’s 18th birthday andthen much large payments when the child becomesolder, and hopefully more responsible and mature. Onedown side of an annuity is that the child cannot underany circumstances access the settlement funds beforethe periodic payments begin.If an annuity purchase is an option that is beingconsidered, the pros and cons will be discussed withthe child’s parents by their lawyer to decide on afuture annuity payment schedule that best fits theanticipated future needs of the child (i.e., to pay forcollege or vocational school). Further, the attorneywill make sure that the annuity is purchased from areputable company with a high rating and will alsoTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN61
  62. 62. make sure that the payment schedule is competitivewith other annuity companies in the market.MMaannaaggeedd TTrruusstt AAccccoouunnttA final option is to us the settlement proceeds toestablish a trust account. A trustee is appointed bythe court to manage the account. The trustee cannotbe a parent of the child or a family member. Thetrustee cannot have a residual beneficial interest inthe trust proceeds. The trustee must be bonded orinsured. Often the trustee is a professional trustee ora company that may act as trustee for many othertrust accounts. The trustee is required to prepare anannual statement of income, expenses, current assets,and fees charged, and provide this statement to theguardian of the child (i.e., the beneficiary). Thestatement must be approved by the court. Because atrustee is also entitled to charge a fee for managingthe trust and providing an annual report, thesettlement proceeds usually need to be large enoughto warrant this expense.IImmppaacctt ooff MMiinnoorr SSeettttlleemmeenntt oonn OOtthheerr BBeenneeffiittss oorrGGoovveerrnnmmeenntt AAssssiissttaanncceeSpecial care must be taken to determine whether thesettlement will impact the child’s right to receive anyasset or income-sensitive benefits or certaingovernmental assistance under public benefitLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS62
  63. 63. programs. A seriously disabled child could be eligiblefor local, state, and federal benefits based on thechild’s disability. These benefits are also called“collateral source benefits” and may include benefitsunder Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Income(SSI), specialized education (20 USC § 1400 et seq.),housing (HUD and local housing authority), attendantcare, and other programs. Yet to be eligible for mostof these benefits, the claimant must not have accessto available resources of more than $2,000 (withcertain exceptions known as exempt resources). Achild’s settlement proceeds could be consideredsufficient resources available to eliminate that child’seligibility for these programs.There are specific programs, including Special NeedsTrusts, that will permit a child to receive a settlementwithout jeopardizing much needed governmentbenefits. The failure to use these allowableprotections can have devastating consequences on yourchild’s present and future right to receive benefits.An experienced child injury lawyer will be familiarwith these tools and will make an appropriaterecommendation to you.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN63
  64. 64. CHAPTER EIGHTDDeetteerrmmiinniinngg tthhee VVaalluuee ooff aa CChhiilldd’’ss IInnjjuurryy CCllaaiimmThere is no magic formula or process by whichsomeone can predict with certainty the amount ofmoney that a child’s injury case may be worth. Thereare so many different factors that may influence thevalue of a claim that it is virtually impossible to createsome type of formula that can reliably predict thevalue of any given case.An experienced child injury lawyer will be able toprovide you with a settlement range for the casebased upon the facts of the case and the types ofinjuries to the child. This range may change duringlitigation based upon what happens during thatprocess. Sometimes, cases get stronger and othertimes they get weaker as the lawsuit progresses.The main factors that are used to determine a fairsettlement range for the child include but are notlimited to the:• Degree of negligence by the defendant• Any negligence attributed to the child• Nature and extent of the injuries• Types of medical treatment for the injuries• Scarring or disfigurement• Pain and suffering• Permanency of the injuriesLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS64
  65. 65. • Medical expenses (past, present, and future)• Special educational expenses (past, present,future)• Loss or impairment of future earnings• Loss of enjoyment of life (past, present, future)• Fright and shock (past, present, future)• Embarrassment and humiliation (past, present,future)• Cost of future care throughout childhood andinto adulthoodThese factors all work together to determine a fairsettlement for the child. For example, if thenegligence by the defendant is clear but the childfully recovers from the injury after a short period ofmedical treatment, then the settlement amount willbe less than if the child suffered a permanent injuryor disability. Likewise, if there is a dispute over thedefendant’s negligence but the child has seriousinjuries, the settlement amount may be higher thanthe first example. The cases in which negligence isclear and the child has the most serious injuriesresult in the highest settlements.In addition to these factors, the amount of theinsurance policy available to the defendant isextremely important as is the location where theaccident happened. For example, a child might suffercatastrophic injuries after being struck by a negligentmotorist, but if the motorist only has the minimumTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN65
  66. 66. policy of $20,000 then it may be all the child canobtain. Also, several areas in Michigan are consideredto have much more conservative jury pools, meaningthat it is unlikely that there will be a substantial juryverdict for the child. The insurance companies are wellaware of this phenomenon and will try to settle thecase for less money in one of those areas.Because of the great number of factors to consider inevaluating the damages in a child injury claim, it isoften necessary to hire experts to help establish theextent of these damages. These experts may includevocational experts, life care planners, economists,psychologists, and/or psychiatrists. Oftentimes theskilled expert can help corroborate evidence anddescribe the effect that the injuries will have on thechild many years in the future. This is even truer whenthe child was injured at a particularly young age.No two cases are alike, even if the accident and/orinjuries involved are nearly identical. The evaluationof two cases that appear to be similar on the surfacemay actually produce widely different evaluations dueto the other factors listed above. Evaluating personalinjury cases takes a lot of knowledge, experience, andsome seasoned intuition. Without these traits you maybe at a serious disadvantage when negotiating withthe insurance adjuster. And unless you are in thebusiness of evaluating and settling personal injurycases for a living, you should look to an experiencedpersonal injury attorney for guidance.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS66
  67. 67. CHAPTER NINESSiiggnniinngg aa PPrree--IInnjjuurryy rreelleeaassee DDooccuummeenntt oonnBBeehhaallff ooff aa CChhiillddA “pre-injury release” document is one that attemptsto contractually limit or waive a party’s right topursue a claim against a third party for negligence.The document typically states that you agree not tosue or file a claim against another party if your childis injured during a particular activity, even if thatparty negligently caused your injury. These documentsare also called “exculpatory clauses,” meaning thatthey seek to release a party from liability fornegligent conduct that may occur in the future.Under Michigan law, this type of pre-injury releasecannot be used to bar a child’s claim against anegligent party.These types of pre-injury releases are often requiredbefore a child can participate in a sports league,martial arts class, or even attend a school field tripor other event. By signing such a release, the parentdoes not waive all of the rights of a child and a claimcan be brought if the child was injured during theevent. However, it still must be established that therewas negligence by a person or entity before a validclaim can be asserted.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN67
  68. 68. For example, a child participating in a youth basketballgame cannot file a claim against the league because hehurts his ankle during the game. However, if he injureshimself due to a dangerous and defective condition inthe gymnasium he may be able to bring a claim.Likewise, the parents of a child who drowns in a publicswimming pool may be able to bring a claim againstthe facility, even though a pre-injury release wassigned, if the pool was defective or if the child was notproperly supervised by lifeguards while in the pool.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS68
  69. 69. CHAPTER TENTThhee BBeenneeffiittss ooff HHiirriinngg aa LLaawwyyeerrIf you have carefully read the previous chaptersabout the many different legal requirements andnuances involved in children injury claims, it may nottake much effort to convince you that hiring anexperienced lawyer is a smart move. There are toomany things that can go wrong when handling a claimon behalf of an injured child. You want to hiresomeone who is a professional and who has years ofexperience dealing with insurance companies.Remember, the insurance company will be doingeverything it can to minimize the claim and avoidpaying fair compensation to cover the child’s pastexpenses and future needs. Don’t help the adjusterby going it alone; give serious thought to hiring anexperienced attorney to handle your child’s injuryclaim, especially when the injuries are serious orpermanent.WWhheetthheerr aa LLaawwyyeerr iiss NNeecceessssaarryyHow do you know if a lawyer is necessary? Not everycase requires a lawyer and there are no hard and fastrules about whether a given case needs a lawyer.Generally speaking, the child usually must havesuffered a fairly serious injury caused by anotherTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN69
  70. 70. party’s negligence to justify involving an attorney.Most experienced child injury lawyers will not wantto get involved in a case that has little or no value andin these cases a parent may wish to settle the casedirectly with the insurance adjuster.When in doubt, parents should at least consult with anexperienced lawyer to learn more about the child’srights and to determine whether the child’s rights togovernment benefits will be jeopardized if there is asettlement for an injury case. A parent will also haveto appear in court to ask the judge to approve evena small settlement and the parent will be required tosign a Release with the insurance company before asettlement check will be given.CCoonnttiinnggeennccyy FFeeeessUnderstandably, most people are wary of hiring anattorney because of the expense. Cases involvinginjury claims are usually handled by experiencedlawyers on a contingency basis. With a contingentfee agreement, the lawyer agrees to defer his or herfee until the case successfully resolves. The fee isbased on a percentage of the recovery obtained bythe lawyer. The standard contingency fee in Michiganis 33 1/3% of the settlement of judgment amount. Ifthere is no recovery, then no attorney fee is owed.This fee encompasses all of the work performed bythe entire throughout the case and there should beLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS70
  71. 71. no “extras.” Under Michigan law, the parents of theinjured child must enter into a written fee agreementwith the attorney that sets out all of the terms ofthe agreement.The costs associated with a claim are a differentmatter. The term “costs” refers to those expensesthat are incurred while investigating the claim and, ifnecessary, prosecuting it in court. Examples of typicalcosts include expert fees, court costs, deposition fees,and record expenses. This allows the client to hire anattorney without ever having to pay out of pocket.Most experienced and reputable accident attorneyswill agree to advance costs in a case.WWHHAATT AA GGOOOODD LLAAWWYYEERR WWIILLLL DDOO FFOORR YYOOUUMany people do not know what an experienced lawyercan do in these types of cases. Here is a list of thetypes of services that the child injury lawyers at ourlaw firm provide to our clients.• Educate and teach parents about the litigationprocess.• Gather written records and documents tosupport he claim, including medical records,school records, police report, etc.• Perform investigation of the child’s claim,including gathering witness statements,photographs, diagrams, and physical evidence.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN71
  72. 72. • Read and analyze applicable insurance policiesthat may apply (e.g., auto, homeowners, health)to see what coverage is available to pay for thechild’s damages, like medical, hospital, and wageloss benefits.• Meet and confer with the child’s medical doctorsand other healthcare providers to fullyunderstand the child’s condition.• File necessary claim forms with the at-faultgovernmental agency.• Contact the insurance company about the claimand conduct periodic discussions with the carrierabout the case so that appropriate reserves areset aside to settle it.• Conduct negotiations with the insurance adjusterin an effort to settle the claim, either prior tolitigation or trial.• If a lawsuit will be filed, prepare and draft thesummons and complaint to file in court.• Perform an investigation to locate the defendantso that personal service of the summons andcomplaint can be achieved.• Arrange for personal service of the summonsand complaint on the defendant as required bylaw.• Prepare and draft written questions forinformation from the other side (calledinterrogatories and requests for production.• Prepare the parents and/or child for deposition.• Prepare for and conduct the deposition of theLITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS72
  73. 73. defendant and other lay witnesses.• Discuss and/or meet the child’s teachers to assistin understanding the effect of the child’s injuriesand need for educational resources.• Meet with the child’s physicians to prepare fortheir own deposition when requested by thedefense attorney.• Prepare to take the deposition of the defendant’sexperts, including medical experts.• Prepare the parents and child for the child’smedical examination by the defendant’s medicalexperts.• Answer questions and produce information andrecords requested by the other side.• Review and analyze the child’s medical recordsand billings.• Hire other necessary experts to support orprove the claim, including other physicians,economists, engineers, vocational experts, etc.• Review and analyze expert reports about thecase, including those addressing liability, injuries,and damages.• File the necessary documents in court asrequired by the judge, including witness lists,trial readiness, settlement conferences, etc.• Prepare the parents, child and other witnessesfor trial.• Create and prepare exhibits for trial.• Organize records and other documentaryevidence intended to be introduced at trial.THE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN73
  74. 74. • Prepare for medication and or arbitration byorganizing records and other documents forsubmission to the mediator or arbitrator.• Research and write briefs and file motions tokeep out or let in certain evidence at trial.• Perform or participate in mock trials or focusgroups to prepare for trial.• Try the case over the course of several daysbefore a judge or jury.• Analyze verdict and research any issues thatoccurred at trial.• Write briefs or motions following the verdict toobtain post-trial relief, including motions forattorney fees, or to overturn the verdict.• Draft and prepare the petition asking the courtto approve the minor child’s settlement.• Attend the court hearing regarding the approvalof the minor child’s settlement.This is a general list of various tasks that the lawyermay need to complete in any given case. There may beadditional tasks, depending on the facts of the caseand the child’s needs. This list will, at least, give thereader some idea of the type of work that may benecessary to successfully pursue a legal claim onbehalf of the injured child.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS74
  75. 75. CONCLUSIONI hope that you find this book to be a valuableresource of information regarding the rights ofinjured children in Michigan. As a parent or guardianof an injured child, you most likely have a number ofadditional questions and concerns about the laws andthe legal process for pursing claims in Michigan. Iencourage to contact me at anytime in my office andI will gladly speak to you discuss these issues.In addition, I encourage you to request any of theother consumer law books that my firm makesavailable to the public for free. These books provideadditional and more detailed information on a numberof legal topics. We believe that it is our duty aslawyers to provide this important legal information toaccident and injury victims in the State of Michiganat no charge. If you know of anyone else who wouldbenefit any of our legal books, please tell them thatthey can also request them for free.Finally, please visit our website:wwwwww..MMiicchhiiggaannCChhiillddIInnjjuurryyLLaawwyyeerr..ccoomm for importantlegal updates and news relating to child injury andaccident cases in Michigan.Lawrence J. BuckfireTHE PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHILD INJURY CASES IN MICHIGAN75
  76. 76. OUR OTHER LEGAL BOOKSWe have written several other legal books on avariety of topics for Michigan consumers.““TThhee UUllttiimmaattee GGuuiiddee TToo IInnjjuurryy CCaasseess iinn MMiicchhiiggaann””““TThhee UUllttiimmaattee MMiicchhiiggaann CCaarr AAcccciiddeenntt HHaannddbbooookk””““TThhee UUllttiimmaattee MMiicchhiiggaann MMeeddiiccaall MMaallpprraaccttiicceeHHaannddbbooookk””““TThhee UUllttiimmaattee MMiicchhiiggaann DDoogg BBiittee && AAnniimmaall AAttttaacckkHHaannddbbooookk””““TThhee UUllttiimmaattee MMiicchhiiggaann MMoottoorrccyyccllee AAcccciiddeennttHHaannddbbooookk””““TThhee TTrruutthh AAbboouutt LLaawwyyeerr AAddvveerrttiissiinngg””You can request these books for free by calling ouroffice at ((880000)) 660066--11771177 or by visiting our website atwwwwww..BBuucckkffiirreeLLaaww..ccoomm. For questions about a specificcase, you should call our office to speak with one ofour experienced lawyers.LITTLE KIDS, BIG ACCIDENTS76
  77. 77. www.BuckfireLaw.comWe are a Michigan law firm that counsels injury victims andtheir families. By handling a small number of select cases, weoffer high-quality personalized service to our clients, usingexperienced attorneys, not paralegals.We provide free legal books and information to the publicand we maintain a superior Web site with frequentlyrefreshed content that includes downloadable, no-cost legalforms and educational videos.We value our reputation for integrity and skill and enjoy anoutstanding track record of success.

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