There is nothing worse than a severe injury to an innocent child. People naturally feel much more sympathy when a child is hurt as compared to the sympathy they would feel for another adult. This is largely due to the fact that we feel confident that the child should have been protected, a child is unaware of the many dangers that surround them every day. Unfortunately, minors do get injured and when they do, they will likely need representation. When a person under the age of eighteen is injured by the negligence of another, the outcome under the law should be the same, but the process by which one gets there is slightly different. Many of the legal documents necessary to pursue an injury claim must be signed by a legal adult who is acting as a guardian for the minor. A person must be at least eighteen years old in order to file a lawsuit, so it is important that a trusted parent or guardian sign off for the minor who has been injured. These situations can present a few unique issues when dealing with an injury claim on behalf of the minor.
One issue that may arise is the fact that any award or settlement is meant to compensate the child for his or her injuries. In some states, a parent may have a separate action for loss of familial relationship with their child when the child has been seriously hurt; but in most cases, the award being sought is for the child’s physical injuries, pain and suffering, and various emotional damages. It is a serious responsibility to sign off to accept a settlement on behalf of the child and to sign a document releasing the at-fault party from future liability. That duty should not be taken lightly, just as an attorney is to act in the best interests of his or her clients, a guardian should make decisions that are in the best interest of the injured child. Once the claim has been resolved, and the guardian has received some compensation on the behalf of the child, it is important to remember that the money does not belong to the guardian, even when that guardian is a parent. If the parent misappropriates those funds, the child could actually file suit against his or her own parents after the child turns eighteen.
When children are injured, they are not as likely to miss work, and they do not have families that are relying on them for financial support, but their injuries themselves can be particularly problematic. Being seriously injured at a young age while a person is still growing and developing can cause a higher degree of damage than if the same injury were to happen to an adult. Childhood and adolescent years are pivotal in shaping a person for the rest of their lives. Serious pain and stress can leave a negative imprint. It is important to protect your children from injury at all costs. If you know of a minor who was injured by another person, take them in for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who handles injuries for children and minors. He or she can explain all of the legal ramifications of representation to both the adult and the child.
This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.