When children are the passengers in a motor vehicle accident, they can be injured, even if they are secured in their seat. Sometimes the car is thrown around so violently that the child receives soft tissue injuries. Other common damages children can suffer are head injuries, broken bones, and internal bleeding. Since a child can not seek his or her own compensation for damages suffered, who has a legal right to ask for help for them?
Under the laws of most states, an individual is classified as a dependent minor until they reach 18. As with adult accident claims, there must be a negligent action proven against the defendant driver that caused the damage suffered by the child. Also, just like in adult cases, the child’s representative can sue for pain, medical expenses, future income, mental distress, and disfigurement.
Rules for how a child’s lawsuit can be filed do differ between states, but some are the same from state to state. Generally, to file a lawsuit on behalf of the injured child:
- You must be over the age of 18 with a relationship with the child.
- You must have no link to or responsibility for associated accidents or injuries.
- You must set up a trust account for the settlement money.
- A trustee must be established to supervise the account, and you — or any other adult — can only take money from the account with the approval of the trustee.
If the injured child is in a long-term care facility, arrangements can be made for monthly payments from the trust account.
Many states have a statute of limitations on filing a claim for personal injury that limits the lawsuit to two years from the date of the accident or the date of death. If no lawsuit is filed for the child, some states allow children to file their own claim for compensation for up to one year after his or her 18th birthday. If a lawyer offers formal notice of intention to file before the statute runs out, some circumstances allow an extension of the deadline. As with other adult lawsuits, if the 19-year-old settles with the insurance company, he or she is granted control over the disbursed money unless mental faculties are proven to be limited.
When a child is hurt in a vehicle accident, it can change the course of his or her entire life. That is why it is essential for the child’s guardian to contact a lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer from Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLC, that understands the law. Representing the rights of a child and making sure they get just compensation can give him or her a stable future.