When our children suffer injuries, our first thought is rarely of receiving compensation for that injury, but later when the medical bills start piling up, that may be our only thought. The law allows for the filing of child accident claims for children who sustain injuries, but only by the parent of the child or by the child after he turns 18.
What can a child do to receive compensation after an injury?
Until they reach the age of 18, the law prohibits children from signing documents or bringing lawsuits because they do not have the capacity to hire a lawyer or otherwise represent themselves in a suit.
However, children can file a claim or suit through either a “next friend” or a court-appointed guardian ad litem, e.g., usually a parent or guardian. This process can be complicated; it is best to enlist the help of a Seattle personal injury lawyer.
What impact do statutes of limitations have on a minor?
Most accidents and injuries require that a claim or lawsuit must commence within a certain period of time from the time of the accident. For example, some personal injury claims must begin within two years of the date of injury. But what happens if the injured party happens to be a minor?
Generally speaking, most statutes of limitations for child injury cases are "tolled," that is, they do not begin to take effect until the child reaches the age of 18. So, if your child sustained an injury when he was 10 years old, he has until his 20th birthday to file a claim or lawsuit.
Can parents pursue a claim separate from the child's claim?
Parents are, of course, the ones responsible for paying a minor's medical bills and are therefore entitled to recover those monies when their child suffers injuries requiring treatment. This is a separate cause of action from the minor's own right to recover.
In addition, parents may have a claim for the loss of their child’s services if the injury impedes the child’s ability to perform certain tasks.
What are some unique challenges in a child's personal injury claim?
Like any injured adult, a child has the right to pursue a claim for his or her future medical expenses, lost wages (if working), pain and suffering, disabilities, and loss of life's enjoyment once they achieve majority status at the age of 18.
However, another complicated question arises concerning lost potential income. Given that most 18-year olds are not working in their future career, identifying and defining potential earning capacity is difficult at best.
Even though a child injury claim gives you more time to file, it can actually be to your detriment because you or your child may forget details of the accident. Make sure you write down everything that happened as soon as possible and keep it in a safe place to use later in your claim.
Do I have to do this alone?
Do not attempt to protect your child’s right to compensation alone. Let an attorney from Max Meyers Law PLLC handle your case so you can focus on the most important people in your life.
Regardless of whether you are filing your own claim for medical bills or you are acting as your child’s “next friend,” Max Meyers can help.
Contact him at 425-399-7000 to get a clear understanding of what legal rights and remedies may be available to you and your family.