Traumatic head injury while at a friend's home...
My 8 year old son went to a birthday party for laser tag, then back to the friend's home for cake. When they returned, the parents let the children ride bikes and set up ramps for jumps. My son, a beginning rider, rode down a slight decline and attempted the jump. He came off the bike and landed forehead first on the ground.
He lost consciousness for an undetermined amount of time, and still has no memory of the accident. That was 34 months ago. The homeowners did not call 911 for medical attention, nor did they call me to advise of my son's accident. When my son regained consciousness, they got him to his feet and took him in the house, where they let him go to sleep.
When he awoke he didn't know where he was at first, then tried to play a video game with other boys at the party. After a couple minutes my son said he didn't feel good, and the homeowner let him sleep again.
About three or so hours after the accident, the homeowner asked my son if he was ready for cake, and he replied that he wanted to go home. Only then did the homeowner call me to pick him up, and tell me of his accident.
When I assessed him, he had a severe headache, drowsiness, disorientation and nausea. I called our pediatrician (it was Saturday), who had me administer ibuprofen and tylenol, and monitor him. Twenty four hours later the headache had not improved, so I took him to the ER where he had a CT scan. Our pediatrician restricted his physical and cognitive activity for two weeks.
My son's personality changed after this incident. He became highly irritable, anxious, depressed, and developed some odd behaviors. He also had a tremendous weight gain.
I opened an injury case with with homeowner's insurance company. Although our pediatrician considered his treatment complete, I requested a consultation with a pediatric neurologist. He was diagnosed with a Stage III concussion and Post Concussive Syndrome. His physical and cognitive activity was restricted again, and a neuropsych evaluation was ordered.
Altogether, my son was treated for over two years. He still has recurring headaches and is on medication for anxiety and depression.
The insurance company is being difficult, and just sent me a letter offering a settlement of $7,500. This seems absurdly low given the fact my son may struggle with repercussions from the accident for the rest of his life.
The pediatric neurologist said his prognosis is difficult because she had no beginning baseline to which a comparison could be made. However, she warned that extra precautions will always be necessary, since he will always be at a higher risk for traumatic brain injury even from a very mild blow to the head. How do I handle this? Any info you can give will be helpful and appreciated. Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Traumatic head injury while at a friend's home...":
Most homeowners insurance policies pay out $500 - $1000 in medical bills without question of liability. This is generally detailed under the Medical Payments, or MedPay, section of the policy. Of course, homeowners can purchase “riders” to increase limits to $5,000 dollars, and in some cases, even more.
Ask the homeowner what the limits in his policy are. While the homeowner may hesitate to give you that information, having it will help you know how close to the policy limits you are being offered.
If you accept the insurance company’s offer be sure you ask the company if by accepting the offer, you must sign a release indemnifying the homeowners from further action by you against them for the injuries to your son. If in fact, you will be required to sign such a release, you might want to consider alternative action.
If you aren’t satisfied with the amount of money offered under the homeowners policy, or you will be required to sign a release, you can consider pursuing a personal injury action against them in lieu of a homeowners claim.
Because of the seriousness of the injuries your son may have sustained, you and he will be best served by consulting with a personal injury attorney. Most attorneys give a free initial consultation. From the facts you present, it appears you are already at an impasse. You may have no alternative but to seek legal representation.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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