Can I Bring a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child?

Children can be injured in accidents just like adults can. They may experience considerable damages, too. Children have the same right to recover compensation for the harm others caused them as adults do. However, minors cannot legally file a lawsuit, so their parent may have the right to act on their behalf to pursue compensation for their losses. 

If your child was injured in a personal injury incident, you might wonder whether you can file a claim on their behalf. California law has special rules that you should be aware of if you are considering taking legal action. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can review your case and explain your legal rights and options. 

Who Can File a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child?

Children under the age of 18 are not legally allowed to file a lawsuit in California. Instead, this right passes to their parent or legal guardian. If the parents live separately, the custodial parent usually has the right to file the claim on behalf of the child. 

In some situations, a guardian ad litem is appointed to protect the child’s legal interests. This person may be appointed even when a parent or legal guardian has filed a personal injury case on the child’s behalf. 

In What Situations Can I File a Personal Injury Case on Behalf of My Child?

Some situations that commonly form the basis of personal injury claims include:

If you file a claim on behalf of your child, you will have the burden of proving why the defendant is responsible for paying for your child’s injuries. This usually requires showing negligence, strict liability, or intentional misconduct. 

What Should I Do If My Child Was Injured in a Personal Injury Accident?

If your child was injured in a personal injury accident, it is important to stay calm and take steps to protect your child’s health and legal rights, including:

  • Seeking immediate medical treatment for your child
  • Reporting the accident to the appropriate party
  • Taking photos or recording a video with your cell phone of the accident scene
  • Asking witnesses for their names and contact information 
  • Keeping all accident-related documentation 
  • Following up with medical treatment

You should also reach out to an experienced child injury lawyer as soon as possible for advice on the next steps and protecting your child’s rights. 

It is important to understand that you are acting on your child’s legal behalf when you file a personal injury claim. As such, you must act in their best interest and resolve their claim for a fair amount of compensation. If you enter into a settlement agreement on your child’s behalf, California law requires you to petition the court for a compromise hearing. 

A compromise hearing asks the court to approve a settlement agreement. You file this petition in the county where your child lives or where the court would otherwise have jurisdiction. The judge reviews the settlement agreement to determine if it is in the child’s best interests. 

If the judge determines that it is, they approve the settlement and order how the proceeds should be handled. Possible options include setting up a special needs trust, a minor’s settlement trust, or a special account. In some situations, the judge may allow the parents to handle the funds. 

What Types of Compensation Can I Recover For My Child in a Personal Injury Claim?

Before accepting any settlement on behalf of your child, you need to understand the full extent of harm that a personal injury can have on your child and their future. Your child could recover compensation for their economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages are direct financial losses caused by the accident, such as:

  • The cost of medical treatment, including emergency treatment, surgeries, hospital stays, medical equipment, and ongoing medical care
  • Physical, speech, and occupational therapy treatments
  • Home modification expenses to accommodate a disability 
  • In-home or long-term nursing care
  • Psychological counseling expenses
  • Future lost wages and a decrease in future income 

Your child could also be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages they incur, which are real losses that cannot be easily quantified, such as:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical discomfort
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other psychological effects caused by the trauma of the accident 
  • Emotional distress
  • Disabilities and impairments
  • Reduced quality of life 

It is important to consider not only the immediate effects of the accident but also the long-term effects when considering the appropriate amount of compensation to settle your child’s case for. It may be necessary to work with experts who can explain your child’s injuries and their future impact on your child’s education, career, and lifestyle. 

What Is the Deadline For Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California?

In most personal injury cases in California, the victim is subject to a two-year statute of limitations. This statute of limitations usually starts running on the day of the accident. This means that in most cases, the claim must be filed within two years of the accident date. 

However, in cases involving minors, the statute of limitations does not start running until the child turns 18, so the child has until their 20th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

But there are many reasons why you may not want to wait for your child to become an adult. You may want to ensure that they have the money they need for medical expenses and their educational needs. An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your child’s case and explain the deadline that applies to it.

Schedule a Free Case Review With an Experienced Child Injury Lawyer in Vista, CA

Going through the turmoil of a personal injury claim can be difficult, especially for a child. A lawyer from Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers can help advocate for you and your child, seeking the compensation you need to get your life back on track after it has been derailed by someone else’s negligence. 

Contact us today at (619) 344-0360 for a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.