Can an Injured Child Make a Personal Injury Claim?
Minor injuries are just a part of growing up, but serious and disabling injuries have long-reaching effects on the rest of your child’s life. When there’s a negligent party involved, such as a teacher that failed to pay attention or a driver that caused an auto accident, parents often want to know if they can use a personal injury claim to request compensation on behalf of their child.
Before making an appointment with a lawyer, you need to know the allowances and limitations that apply specifically to child injury cases. Understand what you can and can’t do as a parent to help you make the right choices based on your family’s wishes.
While children themselves are not allowed to act as the plaintiff in any kind of legal case in most states, parents are allowed to bring cases to court on behalf of their children. This includes personal injury claims. There’s no age limit on this arrangement, meaning that you can pursue a claim for your child from infancy until they’re 17.
You should seek compensation while your child is still a minor if they need ongoing treatment that will be a financial burden to you. When you file a claim during childhood, you get the help you need to pay for their care and any impact it has on your life as a parent. But a child who files after becoming an adult can only request compensation for themselves and not their parents.
A child’s inability to give accurate testimony regarding their injury experience can make the claim slightly more complicated. Yet don’t be discouraged from filing a claim while your child is young, especially if you have other evidence relating to the case such as video footage or eyewitness testimony.
Your child may not remember the accident any better after waiting until they turn 18, so pursue a case soon after the accident so that evidence can be collected before it is lost.
All states have statutes limiting the time you can make a legal claim after an injury. In most states, it’s only two years from the time of the accident. However, injury cases involving children are instead extended for the remaining length of childhood through an arrangement known as a tolling statute.
Minor tolling laws state that the usual statute of limitation does not start counting down until the victim’s 18th birthday. This means that if you’d rather let your child make their own decision about pursuing compensation, they’re free to grow up and consider their options without having to worry about losing out on the window of legal recourse.
One of the biggest reasons to pursue a claim on your child’s behalf while they’re still a minor is the ability to pursue compensation for the parent as well as the child. The first or primary claim in a minor’s personal injury case is actually for the parent’s expenses and losses, while the second part of the claim is strictly for the benefit of the child.
For example, a parental claim can cover medical bills you paid for your child, time you had to take off from work, and other costs related to the injury. Work with an experienced lawyer when deciding which costs to include in your claim so you don’t have to go back and forth with the court over minor details.
Reach out to us at The Cochran Firm of the Mid-South to discuss the details of your child’s injury. We’ll be able to advise you on whether it’s better to file a claim now or to wait until they reach the age of majority so they can handle the case themselves.