Can I Bring a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child?
Parents diligently protect their children from injury and harm. Sadly, the most vigilant parents may not be able to prevent their child from being injured because of another person’s negligence or wrongdoing.
When another person injures a child, the child has the same legal right to compensation for damages as an adult. However, a child does not have the legal capacity to file a personal injury claim.
Therefore, parents generally file personal injury claims on behalf of their children. In this article, we discuss many topics and issues related to filing claims for childhood injuries.
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Common Causes of Childhood Injuries
Many situations can result in injury to a child. Some of the common instances that can lead to a personal injury claim for a childhood injury include:
- Bicycle accidents
- Motor vehicle crashes, including car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bus accidents, and large truck accidents
- Dog attacks and dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Pedestrian accidents
- Defective product injuries
- Playground accidents and other premises liability claims
The above examples are only a few of the ways that a child could sustain injuries because of another person’s negligence.
While you cannot control what another person does, you can take legal control over your child’s personal injury claim.
Can a Parent File a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Child in Florida?
Yes, parents have the right to file legal actions, including personal injury lawsuits, on behalf of their children. If the parents settle the claim before the case goes to trial, the court must approve larger settlements. The purpose of gaining court approval is to ensure that the settlement is in the child’s best interest.
The requirement to approve a settlement applies even though the parents might settle the child’s personal injury claim without filing a personal injury lawsuit. There may also be restrictions on how the money is disbursed or used. The restrictions protect the child.
Are There Deadlines for Filing Injury Claims for Children?
Florida’s statutes of limitations set deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. However, there is an exception to the deadline for filing a claim when a minor is injured.
Because children cannot legally file a claim on their behalf, the statute of limitations is tolled until they reach 18 years of age. At that time, the child has one year from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit. Parents can file a lawsuit on their child’s behalf up until the child turns 18 years old.
Some claims might have different deadlines, such as medical malpractice claims, product liability claims, and claims involving government entitles.
It is best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your child is injured. Calculating the deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit can be confusing. An error or mistake in your calculations could result in your child losing the right to seek compensation from the party who caused their injury.
What Types of Damages are Available in Childhood Injury Claims?
In most cases, children are entitled to receive compensation for the same types of damages as adults. Children can recover compensation for financial damages and pain & suffering damages.
Examples of the economic and non-economic damages a child might be entitled to receive include:
- Reimbursement for the cost of medical care and treatment
- Compensation for future medical expenses or personal care
- Scarring, disfigurement, disability, and permanent impairment
- Physical, emotional, and mental pain and suffering
- Psychological injuries, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and fear
- Compensation for future loss of income or decreases in earning potential
- Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
Parents may also receive compensation for loss of income if they had to take time away from work to care for their child. In the event of a death, the parents may also recover wrongful death benefits.
How Much is My Child’s Personal Injury Claim Worth?
The amount of compensation a child might receive for a personal injury claim depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. The value of a personal injury claim generally increases when the child sustained a catastrophic injury, such as a spinal cord injury, loss of limb, paralysis, or traumatic brain injury.
Because children can develop long-term impairments from an injury, it is essential to seek advice from medical experts. A brain injury could result in developmental delays and cognitive, physical, or emotional impairments. Even a broken bone could cause a child to develop a limp or other permanent impairment.
If your child sustained a disability or permanent impairment because of an accident or injury, your child could be entitled to substantial compensation for future damages. Your attorney will work with you to retain the medical experts and professionals necessary to determine the extent of your child’s injuries and damages.
What Should You Do if Your Child is Injured in an Accident?
Seek immediate medical attention for your child. It is usually best to see a doctor after an injury, even if you do not think your child sustained severe injuries. A doctor can perform a complete physical to determine if your child may have sustained injuries that are not easily recognizable.
Keep records of all expenses, financial losses, and medical treatments. Careful documentation can increase the value of your child’s personal injury claim.
It can also be useful to keep a journal detailing your child’s recovery, including pain levels, anxiety, nightmares, emotional distress, missed activities, and other adverse effects caused by the injury or accident. Taking photographs of your child’s injuries immediately after the accident and throughout their recovery can also be useful when you file a personal injury claim.
Do not allow a child to answer questions or talk with an insurance claims adjuster or another party without an attorney present. Children can say things that are not accurate, which could hurt their claim. It is also wise for parents to avoid dealing with the insurance company or at-fault party without legal counsel.
Even if you suspect that your child could be partially at-fault for the cause of their injury, do not admit fault. Talk with a personal injury lawyer. There are special rules pertaining to children and risk-taking.
Also, until a lawyer completes a thorough and complete accident investigation, you cannot know for sure whether your child’s actions could have contributed to the cause of the injury.
Many parents use their social media accounts to keep loved ones and friends updated on their child’s recovery. It is best to avoid using social media, especially to post information about your child, as long as your child’s personal injury case is pending. Discuss the use of social media accounts with your child’s attorney during your initial consultation.
Call Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
We are very sorry that your child was injured. Our personal injury lawyers understand that this has been a very challenging, painful, and emotional experience for everyone. We want to help you seek justice for your child.
Contact our office for a free consultation with a Florida personal injury lawyer. Let’s discuss your child’s legal rights and how we can help you hold the negligent party responsible for your child’s injury accountable for their actions.