Personal injury cases are one of the most common types of civil lawsuits. These cases give injury victims the opportunity to hold liable parties responsible for the physical, emotional, and financial hardships experienced in an accident.
Minors have the same right as anyone else to financial compensation for accident damages. However, because of their age, things proceed a little differently when we are pursuing personal injury awards for minors. The personal injury attorneys at Reed & Terry, L.L.P. help individuals in the Sugar Land, Katy, and Richmond, TX, areas understand how to proceed when a personal injury lawsuit involves a minor.
Can Minors File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Minors cannot file a personal injury lawsuit on their own. Since individuals under the age of 18 are not able to legally enter into a contract, they also cannot file a claim in court. This is the biggest difference between personal injury cases involving adults and those involving minors.
Filing a Lawsuit on the Behalf of a Minor
Although a minor cannot file a personal injury claim, an adult can file the suit on the minor’s behalf. The law allows a parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem (someone appointed by the court to look out for the child’s best interests) to file a personal lawsuit for a minor.
Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases Involving Minors
There are typically two types of damages awarded in personal injury cases involving minors.
The first type of damages covers the financial losses that are suffered by the minor’s parents or guardians. These damages are meant to compensate for losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Expected future medical expenses
- Anticipated cost of any ongoing therapy and/or rehabilitation
- Lost wages (from time off work to care for the minor)
The second type of damages awarded in personal injury cases involving minors are those that are meant to compensate minors for their personal damages. These damages account for losses such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Loss of wage earning capacity (if the accident results in long-term damages)
What Happens to a Minor’s Injury Awards?
If minors are awarded damages in a personal injury case, they are not given access to the money, at least not right away.
First, the portion of the damages that cover the financial losses of the parents or guardians is given to those adults. They can use that money to pay for accident-related expenses, or to take care of the minor’s needs.
Any settlement money that remains after the parents have been compensated is set aside for the minor. The money is usually put into some type of bank account or trust that cannot be accessed until the minor reaches the age of 18.
What If A Claim Is Not Filed on Behalf of the Child?
If a parent or guardian does not file a lawsuit on behalf of a minor, they may have the chance to file their own claim down the road. Although there are statutes of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, most states allow for minors injured in an accident to file a claim once they reach the age of 18, provided a claim has not already been made on their behalf.
Discuss Your Case With Our Attorneys
If your child has been injured in an accident and you’d like to pursue financial compensation, the attorneys at Reed & Terry, L.L.P. can help you hold liable parties accountable. To discuss your case in further detail, contact our attorneys online or call us at (281) 201-0988.