Handling A Personal Injury Claim Involving A Minor

Managing a Personal Injury Claim for a Child

Watching your child endure pain is heartbreaking. This is especially true when there is nothing you can do to ease the pain they are suffering. If your child has been injured do to the negligence of another person you will surely want justice.  The best way to achieve this, is often to seek compensation for the damages your child has suffered and, if circumstances permit, any additional damages you may have suffered due to the child’s injury.  Personal injuries can cause significant damage, and can permanently impact the child’s quality of life and the options they have moving forward. If your child was in an accident, you will want to ensure that the responsible party pays for the damage they have caused. An experienced personal injury attorney, such as the lawyers at Davis & Brusca, can help you chart the best path forward and secure justice for your child.

Does the Legal Process Differ When a Child is involved?

Although the legal process of advancing the claim is similar for a child, it is not identical to that which applies to an adult.  A few nuances which parents should be aware of include:

  1. Adults can pursue a claim in their own name and without an attorney.  Children cannot pursue claims for themselves.  As such, a child’s parent or guardian will generally advance the personal injury claim on behalf of their child.  Any award obtained through a settlement or trial of the lawsuit can then be put into a trust so that your child can access it after reaching the age of majority. If your child’s injury resulted in medical expenses, it’s likely you were the person responsible for covering those expenses. Because of this, you may also be entitled to compensation for the medical expenses you incurred.  
  2. Settlement of a minor’s claim will generally require court approval.  Adults have the legal capacity to settle their claims without oversight from the court.  The approval process varies from state to state, but is intended to insure the settlement is done in an educated manner with full knowledge of the consequences, to insure there has been no coercion or undue influence, and to verify that the court agrees the settlement is in the child’s best interests

Some of the damages a child may be entitled to include:

  • Future lost wages (if they acquired a disability and their ability to gain employment could be impacted)
  • Medical Expenses (both past and future)
  • Miscellaneous expenses (the cost of changes in plans that were impacted or the cost to retrofit your home to accommodate a disability)
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Punitive Damages (access is limited by state law and the governing facts) You will want to collect what is owed to your child for the injury they have suffered from. An attorney can be beneficial in helping you advocate for the compensation your child is entitled to.

Proving the Child’s Personal Injury Claim

If you were not present at the time the incident occurred, chances are you are wondering how you will gather the necessary evidence to prove the case. Even without an eyewitness, you may be able to prove what happened.  Your personal injury attorney will help you gather the information required for the claim. The following are common pieces of evidence utilized to prove personal injury claims for children:

  • If the police were called to the scene, a police report will provide important details to the accident.  Police typically perform a fairly good examination of the scene and canvass for witnesses and other important details.  This is especially true if the injury was very serious or fatal.
  • If the accident occurred on someone else’s property, acquire proof of ownership and insurance.
  • Proof of injury, including the probable future consequences and disabilities.  Although your child is not entitled to collecting lost wages, they may be entitled to compensation for damage to their ability to work in the future (called “earning capacity”),  if the injury causes a physical or mental disability that will impact their ability to earn money in the future. Proof from a doctor outlining the disability will be an important piece of evidence your attorney will seek if this unfortunate circumstance exists.
  • Medical records, including bills to prove the expenses you incurred from the accident.
  • A list of eyewitnesses who were present at the time of the accident

It can feel overwhelming to gather this level of evidence, especially when caring for an injured child. As a personal injury lawyer can help you to gather the necessary information to prove your case.

Contact a personal injury attorney before times runs out. The sooner you take action, the sooner you and your family can move forward.