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Children & Personal Injury Basics

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Accidents can be unavoidable, and sometimes they happen to the most vulnerable – our children. Learn what to expect if a personal injury has happened to your child and what questions you should be prepared to ask your lawyer.

Any personal injury case can be a stressful and confusing time, but when it involves your child, it can be overwhelming. Whether it was a case of negligence or recklessness, it is important to understand the process of filing a personal injury claim and what your child’s legal rights are.

Who should file a personal injury claim involving a minor?

When a child is a victim of a bodily injury due to another person’s negligence or any other personal injury, a parent or legal guardian has the right to file a claim on behalf of the child.

When should the claim be filed?

The statue of limitations to file a personal injury claim is usually three years. However, when the case involves a minor, the child will have until they turn 18 and then three years after that birthday to pursue a claim. Even though a child does have more time to file a case, it is typically best to file it as soon as possible. The sooner you file a claim, the easier it is to make sure your information is readily available and accurate, like medical records, witnesses, etc.

What does guardian ad litem mean?

In some personal injury cases involving a minor or someone incapable of understanding the details surrounding their case, the judge may assign someone as guardian ad litem. This person will be responsible for protecting the best interests of the child throughout the lawsuit.

Does age play a factor in a personal injury case?

Age does play a factor in a personal injury case. Children are not held to the same standards as an adult because they are still developing and learning. For example, the liability in a case that involves trespassing, an adult may have a difficult time receiving compensation if they fell and injured themselves on that property. However, a child may not know the dangers trespassing on someone else’s property can cause, whether it is slipping on ice or falling into a pool. Therefore they could receive compensation for their injury if a claim is filed.

Who handles the medical expenses?

Many personal injuries result in medical expenses. Since the child cannot file a claim to recoup financial losses caused by medical expenses, parents or legal guardians of the child can do so for them. This claim can be filed jointly with the initial personal injury claim or in a separate lawsuit.

What happens if a child is awarded a settlement?

If the court decides to award a settlement these funds will be held for the child in a trust managed by the court until they are 18. By doing so, the court protects the money for the child until they are an adult. If money were awarded for medical expenses that money would be released to the parent or legal guardian at the time of the settlement.

Where should I get legal advice regarding a minor’s case?

If your child was a victim of a personal injury, it is best to hire an attorney that specializes in these types of cases. Elsner Law Firm will ensure you know and understand your child’s legal rights and support you through the entire personal injury process.

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