What You Need to Know for Personal Injury Cases for Children
When a child is injured in an accident caused by another party, their parent or legal guardian is allowed to pursue damages on the child’s behalf. These types of cases have unique factors that are different than personal injury cases that involve adults. This is one reason why parents should consider consulting with a personal injury attorney to handle the claim for them.
There are three factors that are different in accident cases for children than they are for adults:
The statute of limitation for injury cases for children is longer than it is for adults.
Every state has its own statute of limitations that a person has to file an injury claim. This is usually two to three years from the date of injury. Once the stature has expired, so does the opportunity for a victim to file a claim against the at-fault party.
If the victim is a minor child, however, the statute clock does not begin ticking until the child’s 18th birthday. This is because the law recognizes that there are cases where parents may choose not to file a lawsuit. However, the law also recognizes that the child should not lose their right to pursue damages because their parents chose not to file. There may be different rules for lawsuits that involve the government or for medical malpractice cases. An attorney can explain those details to you.
There are different standards for children than there are for adults in the eyes of the law.
In every personal injury lawsuit, there is a doctrine referred to as the “standard of reasonableness” that is applied to every case. This standard asks whether or not the decisions that the victim made were legitimate under the circumstances they were in at the time of the accident. The standard of reasonableness for a child will depend on how old the child was when they were injured.
For example, an adult fails to look both ways while they are crossing a street and they are hit by a vehicle. A jury may find that the victim was partially negligent and that could reduce the amount of compensation they receive. A 6-year-old child is in the same type of accident, but the jury does not find the child partially negligent for not looking both ways because a “reasonable” 6-year-old would likely have gotten into the same type of accident. We don’t expect children at that age to be responsible enough to look both ways each time they cross the street like we do adults.
Any settlements awarded to children victims are protected by the courts
If parents decide to pursue a claim on behalf of their injured child, and there is a settlement awarded, the parents do not get the money. Instead, a guardian ad litem is appointed by the court who will oversee those funds and ensure the money is only used for the child’s benefit. The money can be used for medical expenses related to the injury, as long as the parents petition the courts to do so. Ordinary child care expenses are not covered unless the child has been left with permanent disabilities that require special care. Injury lawyers Charlottesville VA trusts can help with additional issues.
Once the child turns 18, then the money is released to them and there are no other restrictions.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from MartinWren, P.C., for their insight into personal injury law.
Posted on March 14, 2018 @ 5:43 pm