Four Important Things To Know About Personal Injury Claims Involving Minors

Personal injury claims in which children are the claimants are handled differently from those involving adults. Here are four important things you should know when your child is injured in an accident:

#1 - The Court May Have to Approve Any Settlement

Legally, being a child is equitable to being disabled, and there is a risk that a disabled person may be taken advantage of during negotiations. Therefore, the potential settlement award may need to be approved by the court, even if it is an out-of-court settlement.

This is likely to be the situation in claims involving large sums of money. The court has to rubber-stamp the agreement to ensure that it is in the best interest of the child.

#2 - Parents Keep the Compensation for Medical Bills

It is the parents' responsibility to take care of their children's medical care, which includes settling hospital bills. In fact, failure to do so is considered child neglect, and may attract criminal charges. It follows, therefore, that a child cannot include medical bills among the damages when pursuing an accident claim. It is the parents who get to do that, and keep the corresponding settlement.

#3 - The Child Receives the Funds at Age Eighteen

Even the settlement money that the child gets to keep may not be his or hers until she attains adulthood. In many jurisdictions, the money is deposited with the Clerk of the Court while the child is still growing. This is likely to be the situation with large sums of money.

The law favors this approach because it prevents the parents from using the money for their expenses. The child may need the settlement when he or she grows up; for example, if he or she is disabled and cannot earn much in terms of employment. The court may allow limited withdrawals, usually in the form of structured payments, if the parents need it for the child's upkeep.

#4 - An Adult Must File the Lawsuit

If your child is injured in an accident, then he or she cannot file her own lawsuit until he or she becomes an adult. If the lawsuit has to be filed when the child is still a minor, then it is the "next friend's" prerogative to do it. The next friend can be a parent, parents, a guardian or any other suitable adult. This is because the law considers a child to be incapacitated, and such a person cannot file a lawsuit.

It is clear that personal injury suits involving children are markedly different from those of adults. Therefore, it is prudent to approach them cautiously so as not to jeopardize the child's potential settlement. As usual, consulting an experienced attorney will help you to chart the way forward. To learn more, contact a company like Bare Law Firm.