Adults are not the only accident victims. Children also become injured in auto accidents, slip and falls, and other accidents. All citizens have legal rights in the United States regardless of their age. Lawsuits filed for children are allowed, but there are some slight differences in these cases compared to other personal injury cases.
Who Can File?
No one under the age of 18 can file a personal injury lawsuit on their own. A parent or a legal guardian must file for the victim and be present during any case-related discussions or hearings. To have a personal injury case, the victim must have verifiable injuries, expenses related to the injury, and proof of negligence by another person.
How Does Age Matter?
Adults injured while on private property without permission are often unsuccessful when filing a claim. The situation is different when the injured party is a child. The age of the child is a factor in terms of personal responsibility. Young children cannot be considered responsible for their actions, so they are not legally considered trespassers.
In Tennessee, settlements that involve minors as the injured party must be signed by the court for the protection of the child. The cases are reviewed to be certain the victim is receiving fair compensation for their injury. In-person appearances are required if the settlement is over $10,000, and the guardian must explain how the money will be protected until the child is 18.
Who Gets Compensation?
Parents can receive compensation for the medical expenses they have already paid for and request additional money to cover any expected future expenses. The parents may ask for this compensation in the same lawsuit filed for their child or they may file a separate lawsuit for themselves.
One of the main considerations in a personal injury lawsuit is for loss of income. A minor will not normally have this type of damage, but they are allowed to claim the loss of future income if the injury has left them with a permanent disability. The victim may also ask for additional compensation for the physical and mental trauma they have endured.
What Should Be Done?
Many legal professionals recommend the guardians accept structured settlements in these types of cases. A structured settlement pays out small amounts of money over a number of years. The payments can be invested to earn additional income for the child or used to establish a college fund. The child may use the money as they wish once they reach legal age.
A trust is another option once an agreement on a settlement amount is reached. A trust is controlled by a custodian, usually the parents or a guardian of the child. The child remains the owner of the trust and the custodian manages the account. Any money removed from the trust by the custodian must be for the benefit of the child.
The Uniform Transfers to Minors Act was established to protect children with trusts. This act allows lump sum payments to be placed in a settlement trust that is tax-free for the child until they become an adult. This type of account benefits minors because the money gains interest over time and remains tax-free for them until they are legal adults.
An accident that hurts or permanently disables a child is a nightmare for a loving parent. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Garrety, P.C., we want to help all parents to have the ability to care for the medical needs of their child. We also want to help the child have the future they deserve. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.