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What Should You Know About Filing a Personal Injury Claim for a Minor?

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What is a Child Injury Claim?

Child injury claims are personal injury cases involving minors. In California, a minor is considered anyone under the age of 18.

In our state, minors are not allowed to file personal injury lawsuits. However, they are still entitled to financial compensation for damages when another party causes them harm.

In order for a minor child to recover compensation for their injuries and other losses, an adult must file a personal injury claim on their behalf. As the plaintiff, the adult will have the burden of proving that the other party was negligent in their actions and that this negligence caused the injuries to the child. In most child personal injury cases, the plaintiff must establish negligence, intentional acts, or strict liability.

Those acting on behalf of their children can either enter into a settlement agreement or take the personal injury case to trial.

What Are Common Causes for Child Injury Claims?

Common situations and accidents that frequently result in injuries to children include the following:

  •         Assaults and acts of violence
  •         Bicycle accidents
  •         Birth injuries
  •         Child abuse
  •         Defective products
  •         Dog bites and animal attacks
  •         Medical malpractice
  •         Motor vehicle accidents
  •         Pedestrian accidents
  •         Premises liability claims
  •         Recreational injuries
  •         School bus accidents
  •         Slip and fall accidents
  •         Sports injuries
  •         Swimming pool accidents
  •         And more

Do Parents File Personal Injury Claims on Behalf of Their Children?

In most California personal injury cases involving minor children, a parent or legal guardian files a personal injury claim or lawsuit on behalf of their child. In situations where the parents live separately, the custodial parent usually files the claim for their child.

When filing a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a child, it is recommended that parents retain professional legal representation from experienced personal injury attorneys. Our California law firm has extensive experience representing clients in complex personal injury cases, including those with children as the injured victims.

To learn more about our legal services, please get in touch with our Encino law office to schedule your free initial consultation today.

What is a Guardian Ad Litem?

While parents generally have the right and initiative to file personal injury claims on behalf of their children, the courts can appoint a guardian ad litem to file for the child. The guardian ad litem is expected to act within the minor’s best interests at all times. This role could either be taken by a parent or entrusted to an adult relative of the child. However, the guardian ad litem must not be directly involved in the lawsuit. The guardian ad litem will not have legal rights to the financial settlements that the child is meant to receive.

To learn more, please contact our law firm for legal assistance.

What is a Minor’s Compromise?

When an adult, whether the guardian ad litem or the parent of the injured child, executes a settlement agreement on the minor’s behalf, this is known as a compromise on the minor’s claim.

According to California law, personal injury settlements are contracts, and people under 18 are not allowed to enter into contracts. By entrusting an adult to act on their behalf, the court ensures that the minor’s rights and interests are protected.

To avoid some of the stress and time-consuming nature of filing a personal injury lawsuit, you may wish to reach a settlement agreement with insurance companies at a compromise hearing.

What Types of Damages Can a Child Recover from a California Personal Injury Claim?

 

With a well-argued case, the representatives of the minor child can recover compensation for damages incurred because of the other person’s negligence or maliciousness. This settlement could come in the form of both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages may include the following:

  •         Past medical bills and future medical expenses
  •         Lost wages and lost income earning capacity
  •         The cost of in-home and long-term care
  •         Property damage
  •         Expenses related to modifications to a home to accommodate for a child’s permanent disability

Non-economic damages may include the following:

  •         Disability, disfigurement, or dismemberment
  •         Emotional distress and mental anguish
  •         Physical pain and suffering
  •         Loss of quality of life

In certain cases of willful or reckless acts of malice, it may also be possible to pursue punitive damages. A California judge may award punitive damages in cases involving assault, battery, drunk driving, medical malpractice, and child abuse.

Does a California Judge Have to Approve a Child’s Injury Settlement?

California law requires that a judge approve any personal injury lawsuit settlement involving a child victim. This is to ensure that the settlement is in the best interest of the child. Judges will reject settlements that they deem inadequate to a child’s injuries or when they suspect that a parent wishes to take a portion of the financial recovery for themselves.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Childhood Injury Cases?

In most personal injury cases in the state of California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the injury. However, if the defendant is a government entity, the statute of limitations is reduced to a mere few months.

If you do not file a personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations has run out, you could forever miss your opportunity to recover compensation for injuries and losses.

When is the Statute of Limitations ‘Tolled?’

Because miners do not have the legal standing to file a lawsuit, California tolls (pauses) the statute of limitations for the child until they reach 18 years of age. The statute of limitations then begins when the child turns 18.

Contact Us for a Free 15-Minute Case Evaluation Today

V&A Law Firm has extensive experience representing California clients in complex personal injury cases, including difficult cases involving child victims. We pride ourselves on providing compassionate and aggressive legal representation in pursuit of the most optimal outcome for our clients possible. To learn more about our legal services, we encourage prospective new clients to contact our Law Offices to schedule a free case evaluation. In addition to offering free consultations, you don’t pay unless we win.

Contact our law office by calling us at 818-369-3270.

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