What to Do if Your Child is Injured

This video features Michelle Martin, a Civil Rights attorney based in Ohio.

Ohio Injury Lawyer Explains Options for Injured Children

Video Transcript:

Michelle Martin:

The studies have shown that children really don't recover well. We may think that they have forgotten about it, but in reality, it presents at some later point in time.

Rob Rosenthal:

If your child is injured because of someone else's negligence, do you know where to turn for help? Well we're going to find out right now, because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer on today's episode.

Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and my guest is Ohio attorney Michelle Martin who has quite a bit of experience in this area. We're going to get to her questions in just a second, but before that we want to remind you, if you have questions you'd like to ask about your specific situation, go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and you can do that right there; it will walk you through the process. But for right now, it's my turn.

Michelle, thank you for making some time to answer questions today.

Michelle Martin:

Absolutely, Rob. Thank you for having me.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's just start a little bit about your experience. What is your experience related to minor child injury cases?

Michelle Martin:

Prior to becoming an attorney, I was a personal injury paralegal. In that capacity, I had the amazing opportunity working on a gang of youth injury cases; basically injuries to juveniles. They're a special subset of injured victims because not only are we taking into consideration their vulnerabilities, the fact that they still have to grow, and when you're growing through an injury, of course, that may change your growth process. So not only is it special for that reason, but you also have what's called probate court; and in probate court, of course, it's allowing you to settle the case, allowing you to disperse the case in the protection of the child. So as a paralegal, I began to do a lot of the paperwork to make sure that we dotted our i’s and crossed our T’s because with a juvenile case, unlike a normal personal injury case, there's a lot more red tape that you have to go through because you have to make sure that this child is protected, and whatever injury was suffered is fully healed, and that you're able to get them the proper compensation for that—and that that compensation is put up appropriately so that that child's money doesn't go to waste. So as a paralegal within that capacity, that's what got me started in juvenile law. So moving into being an attorney is where I began to develop it even more.

Rob Rosenthal:

Can you touch on what some of the more common injuries are that children could experience, so parents can be extra careful in some of these situations? What are some areas we need to watch for?

Michelle Martin:

Right. Lots of premises liability cases. So if your child is maybe in an apartment complex playing around the apartment complex, I've had a couple of cases where kids have fallen from faulty railings. Children, of course, are not thinking about the safety or the risks associated. They're playing all over it, and so a lot of the times I have injuries from children that have fallen from balconies. I've had children who have received injuries while riding their bike in the parking lot of their own home or a neighbor’s, or apartment complexes where they don't properly maintain their parking lots, and so they have certain structures that are broken or dilapidated that can cause a substantial risk of harm to children, and they may say, “Oh well, she just fell while riding her bike.” But depending on the significance of the injury and how she fell, there could be liability there as well.

The most common injuries that I've seen, of course, are related to children who are in the car with their parents or with another person, and they receive injuries related to a car accident or motor vehicle accident, lots of times those injuries may go overlooked by children or by parents of the children, because children aren't really complainers in relation to the injuries they suffer from motor vehicle accidents. Sometimes they're not even aware of the significance of the injuries.

Rob Rosenthal:

That kind of leads me to my next question; you touched on it a little bit, but as an attorney who's handling a child injury, what are some things that are different about that as opposed to handling an adult injury?

Michelle Martin:

You have to talk to children a little differently, of course, because sometimes they don't know how to explain or describe the pain that they're experiencing. They're not as well-versed in terms of explaining if they're having some type of mental anguish or discomfort. You also have to have a good repor with the parent, because you have to tell the parent what to look for. So look for night terrors, pay attention if your child is waking up, maybe they're losing their faculties at night where they didn't before; maybe they are acting out in school; maybe there are just different behavioral changes that you have to pay attention to and be aware of outside of those physical injuries that, of course, you have to try to dig into to figure out what's going wrong with children. So there are certain special ways that I like to talk to kids, and my Guardian ad Litem experience, I like to say, gives me the authority or the ability to speak to kids in their language and figure out what's really going on with them. Then you also attend doctor's visits and things like that with them, because you're able to speak with the doctors and be sophisticated, and you know what to look for based on the complaints that the child is made.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you then, whether it's a settlement or a judgment, and you get a recovery of money for a minor child, how is that handled? What happens to that money to make sure it goes to the child?

Michelle Martin:

In Ohio when we settle the case for a child, everything has to go through the probate court. So you would file an application with the probate court to settle the minor’s claim. Once the probate court receives all the documents necessary to determine whether or not the settlement is appropriate, you also have to file the distribution, and the court has to approve how the monies are going to be distributed. In that distribution for the children that I work with, we either do a special needs trust sometimes, we'll do different other types of trusts, or we'll do a structure.

Rob Rosenthal:

I imagine for some children, depending on how catastrophic the injury is, this is something that could affect their entire life, which could be a very long span?

Michelle Martin:

Absolutely. And for children, I like to make the argument that it will. Because depending on the severity of the injury, the studies have shown that children really don't recover well. We may think that they have forgotten about it, but in reality, it presents at some later point in time. So if you're not knowledgeable enough to pay attention to what a child is not saying, or to make sure that you get a mental health assessment following any type of traumatic event, then you could be missing out on how this is truly affecting the child, and you're doing them an injustice because you're missing out on future treatment that they're going to need. So when you're setting up those trusts and you're setting up those structures, you're making sure to put in the reserves to get the child that future treatment that they're going to need.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's a really great point. What's your advice for parents who are trying to pick a lawyer to help them in their minor child injury case? What advice do you have for them when it comes to picking somebody?

Michelle Martin:

Go to the websites and see. It's always been on my website that I practice juvenile law, and a lot of times I see attorneys who may dibble and dabble in juvenile law, and they think this is kind of an area where you're trying to figure out what do you want to do, or maybe you want to practice how to be a civil litigator and you want to learn how to do that within the juvenile arena, but when you really start to break apart the nuances that is juvenile law, it's really fascinating because you're dealing with our most precious people. We're dealing with the most vulnerable people in our community that have the smallest voices, so you really want to do your research. You can even Google the lawyer and see if they advertise for juvenile law or if they've had any monumental cases that involved juveniles. So you want to see how will my case or how will my child's case be handled as it relates to this specific attorney. You want to do your research.

Rob Rosenthal:

It’s obvious that your expertise and your experience in this area is very valuable, and a fascinating conversation. Michelle, thank you for making some time to help us out today.

Michelle Martin:

Thank you so much, Rob. I appreciate the time.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guess has been Ohio attorney, Michelle Martin. I want to remind you, if you want to ask questions about your specific situation, go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the screen that says, “Ask a Lawyer”, and you can do that right there.

Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

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