Was your child injured on a school playground in New York? Are you struggling to cover your child’s medical bills and cope with other related expenses? If so, do not lose hope. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you demand fair compensation for your family’s losses.
In the meantime, though, there are several steps you can take yourself to protect your child’s best interests and establish a strong foundation for your injury claim. In this article, the New York school injury lawyers of Finz & Finz, P.C. explain what you can do if your child was hurt on a school playground. Keep reading to learn more, and contact us today if you’d like a free consultation with an experienced attorney.
Seek Medical Attention Promptly
If your child was not immediately taken to an emergency room or urgent care clinic in the aftermath of their playground injury, your first and most important step is to get them the medical attention they need. Even if your child’s injuries seem relatively minor or they tell you that they feel fine, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Shock and adrenaline can mask some common symptoms of a serious injury. And if certain injuries are left unattended, they can worsen or cause additional injuries in short order. For this reason, you should take your child to a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office after a playground injury to have a professional diagnose their condition and include the diagnosis in their medical records.
Follow Your Pediatrician’s Care Plan
If a pediatrician examines your child and determines that they indeed have injuries that require treatment, be sure to follow their prescribed care plan as closely as possible. This means administering timely dosages of necessary medications, allowing your child to rest as much as they need to, and making sure your child attends all follow-up appointments as scheduled.
Following the doctor’s orders has two important purposes. First, it will help your child heal and improve their overall prognosis. Second, it will demonstrate to interested parties that you are taking your child’s recovery seriously. After all, if you fail or refuse to follow professional healthcare advice for your child, the insurance company may argue that your child isn’t as badly hurt as you claim.
Speak to School Administrators
If school administrators did not reach out to you first or did not address all of your concerns, your next step is to speak with the administration directly and see what they have to say about the incident. Ask them if they have completed an accident report and, if so, request a copy for your records. If the administrator has not yet created a report, insist that they do so and provide you with a copy.
If your child was injured as the result of a bullying incident, ask the administration what types of consequences the other students are facing for their behavior. If you get the impression that the administration would prefer to sweep things under the rug, don’t be afraid to call them out and demand to know why.
Gather Evidence of Your Child’s Injury
Gather as much evidence of your child’s injury as you can. This includes photos of visible injuries, taken both in the immediate aftermath of the accident and as they heal over time. You may also consider taking photos of the playground where the injury occurred.
If your child’s clothing was torn or bloodied, refrain from washing or repairing the clothing and save it as physical evidence instead. And be sure to hold on to any documentation related to your child’s injury, including medical bills and proof of reduced household income if you missed work to stay home with them.
You can also work with your child to establish a “pain journal” for their injuries. This journal does not need to be complicated. You can simply ask your child to rate their pain, discomfort, emotional distress, or physical limitations on a scale from one to ten each day and then record their response. Consistent entries in a pain journal can be valuable evidence of subjective losses like pain and suffering.
Watch What You Say to Others or Post Online
Be careful about what you say any time you speak to anyone but your family or your lawyer about your child’s injury case. This includes school employees, insurance adjusters, and other attorneys. Implying that your child’s injuries are not really that bad, suggesting that your child is at fault, or providing contradictory or inaccurate information could damage your child’s case.
Similarly, watch what you share, say, or post online. Chances are that your online presence is not as secure or anonymous as you think, and even innocuous posts or photos can be taken out of context and used to undermine your claim. If your child has an online presence themselves, be sure they know to avoid social media activity while the case is pending.
Know the Rules That Apply to Your Case
If your child attends a public school, the school is legally considered a government entity. As a result, you cannot simply sue the school, even if the school is clearly liable. Instead, you must follow specific rules that apply to claims against government entities.
Government injury claims in New York typically have tight filing deadlines of just 90 days. If your claim is rejected, you have six months to file a lawsuit in response. If you attempt to file a liability claim or injury lawsuit after the relevant deadline, you will most likely lose the right to claim compensation on your child’s behalf.
If your child attends a private school, on the other hand, these special restrictions do not apply. You can file an insurance claim or injury lawsuit directly against a private school or any other private organization or individual who is liable for your child’s injuries. However, remember that you have just three years to sue for injury under state law.
Contact a Trusted School Injury Lawyer
Perhaps the best thing you can do to give your child the resources and support they need to recover fully after a school playground injury is to speak with a trusted lawyer. At Finz & Finz, P.C., our school injury attorneys provide top-rated legal representation to injured students and families throughout the state of New York. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact us today for a free initial consultation.