Step by Step

What are the first legal steps a parent should take if a child is injured at school, a friend's house, etc. while the parent is not present?

 I know your first reaction may be to panic if your child was injured. When my 8-year-old son, Josh, almost died after falling off of a high-dive onto concrete, I was so distraught that I couldn’t even think straight. Since the cause of the accident was the diving board not meeting Ohio Code, the anger I felt only made my distress worse.

 The first thing is to stay calm and focus on your child’s medical attention. It is imperative after any type of injury accident to seek treatment immediately, even if there are others telling you that the injury is “not that bad.” In the case of my son, I was told over the phone that Josh wasn’t seriously injured, yet it turned out that he had bleeding in his brain and had to undergo two brain surgeries, which required him to be  hospitalized for three weeks.

 After you get your child the medical treatment he needs, find out as early as possible the circumstances leading up to the injury. Remember: stay calm, but be firm. Ask questions, take photos and document everything.

What is a Statute of Limitations, and how it can be restricting?  How can I get an extension?

 In Ohio, a personal injury claim involving a minor may be brought within two years of the child’s 18th birthday. A Statute of Limitations is a time limit for filing a claim. This limit is put in place for public policy reasons, but once the time limit passes, the right to pursue the claim is lost if a claim has not been properly filed. For example, even though we filed Josh’s personal injury claim against the facility less than a year after the accident, he technically had until the day before his 20th birthday to do so. While we do our best to settle claims without needing to go to trial, and the statute of limitations can be extended by filing a lawsuit in court. You must get answers sooner than later, so never wait to pursue a claim. Be proactive and take charge early.

What are the biggest challenges of personal injury cases when it comes to being awarded fair compensation?

 Few things are more devastating than dealing with the injury of a child. The emotional toll it takes on a family can also turn out to be the biggest challenge when it comes to assessing what is fair compensation. Many families are so distraught that stress prevents them from understanding their legal rights. Anyone dealing with the aftermath of a child’s injury should allow an attorney to take over the legal portion of the claim so your focus can be solely on your child.

 There are very key pieces of information – like medical records, investigative reports, photos, witness statements and expert testimonies – that must be gathered in order to receive fair compensation.

 It is very difficult for a parent to obtain these alone, especially when trying to nurse a child back to health. You know your child better than anyone. Give them the gift of your undivided attention and let an attorney handle the rest.

Attorney Chuck Boyk has been practicing personal injury law in northwest Ohio for over 30 years. In August 2010, he was forced into the role of a client after his son Josh’s near-fatal injury. He decided to tell his family’s story as a way to help others by writing I’ve Stood in Your Shoes, which he offers for free to anyone in the community.
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