Skateboarding Accidents Involving Children & Related Lawsuits
Children throughout the U.S. enjoy using skateboards, but thousands of injuries result from skateboard use. Parents should not allow a child to use a skateboard until they are at least six years old, and they should make sure that a child of any age has developed sufficient coordination before allowing them to participate in this activity. When a child starts using a skateboard, parents should go out with them or make sure that a trustworthy adult accompanies their child. (In general, a child who is 10 or younger should always have an adult with them.)
Skate parks may be a good place for a child to ride without dealing with traffic.
Laws in certain jurisdictions require children using skateboards to wear helmets. Even if a law does not apply in their area, parents should make sure that their children wear not only helmets but also wrist guards and elbow and knee pads. Children ideally should use their skateboards on roads in good repair, without many potholes or obstacles. They should not ride in bad weather or after dark. Parents can think about alternative activities that can entertain their children during these times, providing excitement with less risk.
Legal Claims for Injuries Involving Skateboards
Children may suffer serious injuries in skateboard accidents, such as concussions, brain trauma, facial injuries, and broken bones. While some accidents occur when a child carelessly handles a skateboard, or when an adult fails to supervise them, other accidents result from careless or reckless actions by drivers of other vehicles. A driver may strike a skateboarder when they fail to yield the right of way, fail to check a blind spot, make an improper turn, or fail to pay attention to their surroundings, among other situations. When this happens, parents can bring a claim against the driver for their child’s injuries and related costs.
If a driver failed to use reasonable care behind the wheel, and this caused a skateboard accident, the driver may be held liable for economic and non-economic damages. Potential types of damages may include compensation for medical bills, the costs of future treatment, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
Evidence for Liability and Damages
Evidence to prove the liability of a driver and resulting damages may include:
Photos of the accident scene
Photos of the injuries
Witness statements and testimony
Bills for hospital stays, therapy, and other medical costs
Testimony from family members and friends of the victim
Expert testimony (sometimes)
An investigation of an accident may reveal that fault lies with a party less obvious than a driver. For example, a government entity that failed to maintain a road or sidewalk where an accident occurred may be liable. Distinctive rules apply to lawsuits against the government, so parents should act quickly if they suspect that they may have this type of claim. In other cases, the owner of a skate park or another private property where a child used a skateboard may be liable for failing to adequately maintain their premises.
Defective skateboards also may cause accidents. Parents can sue the manufacturer of the skateboard or another entity in the chain of distribution in these situations. Sometimes an error occurs during the process of making a particular skateboard, or sometimes the inherent design of the skateboard contains a safety flaw. Claims against a manufacturer typically use a theory of strict liability. This makes the process easier for a victim because they do not need to prove that the manufacturer failed to use reasonable care. Liability exists if the skateboard contained a defect, and it caused the accident.
Figuring out whom to sue and navigating the process can be challenging without an attorney. Parents concerned about the cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer should be aware that they probably will not need to pay fees upfront. Most of these attorneys collect their fees as a percentage of any settlement or judgment recovered for a client. If parents are not sure whether they have a claim, or how much it might be worth, they can set up a free consultation with an attorney to address these questions.