Nothing in the world is more precious and cherished than a child. Parents must be assured that other individuals, products and medicines will keep their children safe. So, it is especially devastating when parents must deal with a son or daughter harmed through negligence, recklessness or intention of others.
Children can be injured in various situations, like in a vehicle collision or swimming pool accident. They can suffer harm by a defective toy, dog bite, prescription drug error or negligent action of a doctor or hospital. Many times, the injuries cause lasting medical problems or lead to the death of the young child. When this happens, parents are offered numerous legal options to handle a personal injury case or wrongful death lawsuit that involves a minor.
The laws that are applicable to child-associated lawsuits are much different from those that involve adults. Children are unable to file a personal injury lawsuit on their own due to their minor status. They cannot negotiate a claim for compensation nor can they fill out any paperwork involved in a lawsuit. Because of that, an adult individual must file a suit or claim, who is usually the child’s parent or legal guardian.
When a Child Causes an Accident
The laws involving responsibility are usually very straightforward when an adult causes an accident. However, when a child causes an accident, different standards of the laws applicable to lawsuits apply. In many incidences, children under the age of eight are usually not liable for any injuries they cause. This is because they are too young to comprehend that their actions were careless, reckless or intentional. Although, the child’s parents or guardians might be legally liable for the injuries if it can be prove they failed to control the actions of their child.
Children eight years and older are considered to be old enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. Because of that, older children can be held legally liable for any intentional injury they cause. If the actions of children causing injuries are committed through an intentional act, their parents might also be held legally liable.
An older child’s conduct can be considered negligent or reckless when measured by the standard of how other children of identical age and maturity would reasonably act. Once children reach their middle teen years, they are usually held to the same standards of reasonable responsibility as an adult.
Who Owns the Claim?
Children who are injured due to negligence, carelessness or intention do not have the capacity to pay ongoing medical bills. As a result, the parents or legal guardian often files a claim for compensation from every party responsible for the injuries. In fact, they own the claim filed on behalf of their child and themselves or they can file their own separate lawsuit or claim for compensation. If both the parents’ and child’s lawsuit goes to trial and to be heard together, each suit might receive a separate verdict.
In some situations, a settlement of a claim or lawsuit might require approval from the court to ensure that the claim of the minor is adequately resolved. Usually, this occurs through an approval process that is heard in court to ensure the best interest of the child has been served.
In some situations, the laws applicable the child injury lawsuits will require that any out-of-court settlement or jury award be transferred to the clerk of the court. The funds will usually be held until the child turns eighteen years of age. However, the court can also order that the funds be paid to the parents of the child to be held in trust until his or her eighteenth year.
If the child succumbs to their injuries, the surviving family members who could include the immediate and distant family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This will ensure that every negligent party proven at fault can be held legally liable for compensatory damages, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses along with emotional pain and suffering.