Personal Injuries Involving Children Part 1: The Child as the Victim
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on May 9, 2023
When it comes to personal injury cases, it might be easy to see when legal action would benefit the victim or if it would be worth it at all – it’s an individual’s decision. But what happens when that individual is a child? Does the legal procedure when it comes to personal injuries involving children differ from legal procedures with adults?
The answer is yes!
There are a couple of exceptions that are made when it comes to children, and we’ll explore the two main options for children with personal injury cases and their families, and how they change in procedure. Then, in a ‘Part 2‘ blog, we’ll delve into what happens when the child is the cause of a personal injury.
Children as the Victim of a Personal Injury
As is with all personal injuries, every case is held to a standard via the statutes of limitations. However, where adult cases have a relatively strict 1-3 years from the date that the injury occurred, children have different options.
Option #1: A Parent or Legal Guardian Pursues the Case for the Child
Since most children aren’t able to negotiate their case themselves, parents or legal guardians can stand in their place for them. They’ll be the ones speaking with lawyers, giving testaments, helping to collect evidence, and bringing the claim forward.
However, don’t get confused! While parents or legal guardians may seek legal compensation as an act of obtaining justice for their child, this is not the same as receiving any due compensation for themselves as a result of the child’s injury. In most cases, they will be the ones paying for any healthcare, procedures, or, in worst case scenarios, funerals, so one might assume that they have just as much reason to recover compensation as the child does because the case encompasses all aspects of the child’s injuries, including those affected by it. This is a separate right of compensation that those people can seek out; a parent or legal guardian bringing the child’s personal injury case to court seeks only the benefits that a traditional adult case would – payment to the child for their pain and suffering, permanent injury, emotional distress, and/or disability.
If the parents or legal guardians choose this option, they cannot bring the case to court as they would for themselves; they must go through the proper channels of approval before doing so. This involves:
- Obtaining Court Approval
- Obtaining Proper Insurance Documents
Both are relatively simple documents that you’ll fill out and submit for the court judge to review to ensure that the case is viable, in the best interest of the child, and of fair compensation. Most insurers will want to obtain the settlement as soon as possible so that they won’t have to revisit the case later when the opportunity for additional money and compensation claims to be added on is higher.
(Statistics on emergency room visits by age (2020) from the KY Injury Indicators Report.)
Option #2: The Statute of Limitations Pauses Until the Child is 18 and Able to Pursue the Case Themselves
If the legal guardians choose not to pursue legal action, or the child (within reasonable age) doesn’t want to, then the procedure and elements are basically put on pause until the child turns 18, in which standard procedure is re-implemented. It doesn’t matter if the statute of limitations is 1 year or 3, or if the child is 9 or 16 and a half – the pause is implemented and beginning on the day of their 18th birthday, they have the respective amount of time, according to whatever the statute states, to file a claim.
If you need help filing a claim on your child’s behalf or receiving compensation for medical bills or costs associated with a child’s personal injury that you paid on their behalf, contact Cooper and Friedman, child injury lawyers who have specific experience handling child injury cases. We offer these services to you and, of course, there is never a fee for consultation or unless we win or settle the child’s case.
If you, your child, or someone you love has been injured in an accident in the State of Kentucky and are in need of an experienced child injury attorney, give the lawyers at the Cooper & Friedman law firm a call. The attorneys at Cooper and Friedman PLLC have over 50 years of combined experience defending the rights of child injury victims. Contact us with questions you might have or schedule a free case consultation with an attorney by calling 502-459-7555 today.