A mother and father’s worst nightmare is getting a call informing them that their child has been involved in an accident or has been injured in some way. While the physical and emotional suffering from such an event can never be undone, a lawsuit against the person at fault may be in the child’s best interests. Handled properly, this type of case almost always results in fair compensation for the child. While most people feel sympathy for injured children, don’t expect obtaining financial compensation to be easy. Children, which generally includes anyone under age 18, usually cannot bring lawsuits on their own behalf. As such, when a child is injured by the negligent or intentional acts of a third party, the issue that often comes up is whether a lawsuit can be brought against the wrongdoer for the child’s injuries. In this blog post, we will discuss how to sue on behalf of an injured child after an accident.
Filing a Lawsuit on Behalf of Child
Typically, there are two options: the child can usually wait until he or she is an adult and then sue; or some adult can bring a lawsuit against the wrongdoer on behalf of the child. In most states, when a child is injured, the usual statute of limitations is put on hold and does not start to run until they are 18. In most cases, an adult will bring a lawsuit on behalf of the child. As you might imagine, this will usually be done by a parent, but does not necessarily have to be. The lawsuit may be brought by a parent, legal guardian, a person appointed by a judge to bring the lawsuit or any other person permitted by state law. If the child and adult bringing the lawsuit have the same last name, the listed name of the plaintiff in the lawsuit will be something along the lines of “Jane Doe, as parent of JD, a minor” or something to that effect. Note that if the case is by a child against his or her parent, such as when the child is a passenger and the parent was a negligent driver, the parent being sued cannot be the child’s representative, as that would be a conflict. When an adult brings a lawsuit on behalf of a child, the court realizes that the child is having his or her interests represented by someone who might not necessarily have the best interests of the child in mind. As such, states typically have various safeguards in place to protect the interests of the child. For example: In most states, if the parties reach a settlement, it will have to be approved by the judge. The judge will want to make sure that the settlement is fair for the child. This usually involves the judge appointing someone, usually a local attorney who has nothing to do with the case (sometimes called a guardian ad litem), to review the proposed settlement and report to the judge as to whether that attorney believes the settlement is fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the child. If the judge then approves the settlement, the child cannot later try to bring another lawsuit when he or she reaches age 18. Furthermore, the judge must make sure that the money from the settlement will be utilized for the benefit of the child. Often, state law will require that the money be placed in a bank account which is in the adult’s name on behalf of the child, but which cannot be touched until the child is 18. Commonly, the money must be placed in an interest bearing, insured account and cannot be placed in investments that have a risk of losing money.
Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney
Every day, thousands of children experience personal injuries. Whether from a car accident, a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, a defective product or one of many other causes, people often do not know under what circumstances someone else may be at fault for their injuries. In addition, the legal system is complex and often frightening to a person with no legal training. As far as the law is concerned, the laws regarding lawsuits by or on behalf of children are very complicated and very important. As such, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney regarding the specific rules applicable in Florida. No matter the type of injury sustained, all injury victims must prove fault to obtain compensation. Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation and stand ready to protect your rights. We are available 24/7 to give you a free, no risk case consultation!
We serve clients throughout Florida including those in the following areas:
Miami-Dade: Aventura, Coral Gables, Doral, Fontainebleau, Hialeah, Homestead, Kendall, Miami, Miami Beach, Miami Lakes, North Miami, Tamiami, and Westchester.
Broward: Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, and Weston; and Palm Beach County including Boca Raton, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach.