When a child under the age of 18 suffers an injury due to someone else’s negligence, he or she may have grounds for an injury claim. However, he or she cannot file a claim alone. These claims are usually filed by the child’s parent or legal guardian.
Claims involving injuries to minors are handled differently than claims involving injuries to adults. That is why it would be in your best interest to call an injury lawyer in Fort Worth as he or she can help you pursue a claim on a child’s behalf.
The attorneys at Anderson & Cummings have a proven track record of success and are prepared to help you pursue a claim.
Common Personal Injury Claims Involving Children
Some bumps and bruises are simply a part of growing up. However, there are also accidents that lead to injuries that could have been prevented had someone not acted in a negligent manner. For example, injuries that occur in the following places/situations were often the result of negligence:
- Daycare or school
- Sports activities
- Encounters with dogs
Other types of incidents that frequently involve injuries to adults may sometimes involve children, such as motor vehicle accidents or medical malpractice.
Slip and fall injuries are also common among children, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports about 8,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every day in the U.S.
Who Can File an Injury Claim for a Child?
In Texas, as in most states, children under the age of 18 are not considered legally competent and so are not allowed to stand in court on their own behalf. Instead, claims or lawsuits are filed by a parent or relative of the injured minor, called “next friend.” They are considered an agent of the court designated to protect the rights and interests of the child.
In some cases, the courts may appoint a Guardian ad Litem, an advisor to the court, whose purpose is to make sure there is no conflict of interest between the next friend and the child they represent.
For example, after an accident in which both a child and parent were injured and the parent is acting as both an injury victim and the next friend for the injured child, a Guardian ad Litem would be assigned to the case. The Guardian ad Litem’s job is to assure any compensation awarded would be distributed evenly among the two victims. The guardian needs to ensure the parent does not take advantage of the situation by taking a larger portion of the award than he or she may be entitled.
Statutes of Limitations for Minors in Texas
The statute of limitations for injury cases in Texas is usually two years. However, if the case involves a minor, the statute of limitations does not start running until the child’s 18th birthday. This means that a person who suffered an injury as a child has until the age of 20 to file a lawsuit.
Damages in Child Injury Cases
The child and the parent(s) or legal guardians may both be eligible for damages. The child could be owed damages for pain and suffering caused by the injuries, including emotional trauma. If the injured child was working at the time of the accident and had to take time off work to deal with injuries, he or she may be eligible for damages for lost wages.
A parent or legal guardian could also be eligible to recover any out-of-pocket medical costs not covered by health insurance as well as lost wages for any time taken off work to care for the injured child.
If the minor suffered injuries due to the gross negligence of another, such as in a case of daycare abuse, punitive damages may also be included in a claim for compensation.
How Settlements for Minors are Handled
For cases in which there is a smaller settlement, the monetary compensation is often deposited into the court’s registry to be invested with other registry funds in low-risk investment accounts which may be accessed by the injury victim when he or she turns 18 years old.
Claims that result in significant awards are normally handled by the attorney handling the claim and the Guardian ad Litem assigned to the case. These settlements are usually placed in low-risk annuity accounts or another investment avenue until the child comes of age.
Settlements are usually never given to the next of kin to be directly managed to avoid any potential conflicts of interest arising after the case is closed.
Have Questions About Your Child’s Rights After an Injury? Call Today
If your child suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence and you have questions about pursuing a claim, call Anderson & Cummings to discuss your claim and learn how we may be able to help you recover the compensation you need.
Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience helping injury victims and we have successfully recovered millions in compensation on their behalf.
There are no upfront fees and we only get paid if we win.
Call today to schedule a free consultation: (817) 920-9000.