Can I File a Claim for Compensation on Behalf of an Injured Child?

mother placing a bandage on a child's kneeWhen a person over the age of 18 is injured due to someone else’s negligence, he or she may file a claim for compensation against the at-fault party.

However, what happens if a minor child is injured?

He or she cannot legally file a claim, but a parent or legal guardian may be able to do so on the child’s behalf.

If your child was injured in an accident, our Savannah personal injury lawyers are prepared to help you file a claim on his or her behalf to help recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.  We offer a free consultation and do not charge you anything up front.

Below, we discuss some of the unique factors to consider when filing a claim on behalf of a minor.

Common Causes of Child Injury Claims

Children may have the occasional accident that may result in a minor bump or scrape. But there are some other types of accidents that could leave a child with a serious injury that may affect him or her for a long time. If that accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, it could prompt legal action.

Some of the most common reasons parents file injury claims on behalf of their children include:

  • Dangerous products
  • School/daycare accidents
  • Sports activity injuries
  • Summer camp accidents

There are some other scenarios that may cause injuries to a child, such as slip and fall accidents or medical malpractice. These may also warrant the filing of an injury claim.

Who Can Legally File a Claim on Behalf of a Child?

Georgia law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, as minors are not legally competent to stand in court. Instead, a child’s parent or legal guardian may bring forth a claim or lawsuit for compensation. During a court proceeding, the adult filing the claim is known as the “next friend.”

If a lawsuit is filed, as a precaution the court will assign an agent of the court called a Guardian ad Litem. This person is responsible for protecting the rights and interests of the child to make sure there is no conflict of interest when it comes to how compensation is awarded.

Unique Factors in Child Injury Claims

There are several other reasons why claims brought on behalf of minors may greatly differ from claims brought by an injured adult.

Statute of Limitations

Parents have up to two years to file a claim on behalf of their children upon the discovery of the injury. For example, if your child is injured at a sleepaway summer camp, but you are not made aware of the injury until a week later, the two-year clock may not begin running until you know of the injury.

A child may file a lawsuit on his or her own once he or she turns 18 years old. Once the child reaches legal status, he or she may have up to two years to file a lawsuit for compensation.  

Because of the time constraints on filing a lawsuit, and how much time it takes to investigate a claim, it is best not to wait too long after an injury to speak to a knowledgeable attorney. If time runs out, you may be left without any legal options to recover compensation for your damages.

How Damages Are Compensated

Just like most injury cases, compensation for cases involving injured children may be broken down into economic and non-economic damages. The difference with children is that the injured child’s parents may be compensated for economic damages, since they likely paid the costs of medical treatment, needed to take time off work to tend to their injured child and so on. At the conclusion of the case, the parents or legal guardians would likely receive the check for economic damages.

However, non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are handled differently. These damages are awarded directly to the injured child since he or she is the one who suffered the damage. When this compensation is awarded, the court generally handles its distribution by appointing a court agent who puts the money in a low-risk account. The account cannot be accessed by anyone except the child upon his or her 18th birthday. 

The Settlement Negotiation Process

Georgia has very specific laws about negotiating a settlement. Georgia Code Section 29-3-3 states that any compensation (before and after legal fees) that is less than $15,000 may be negotiated by the child’s parent or guardian. However, anything above that amount requires that a petition be signed with a probate court so he or she may be appointed as legal conservator. Once the petition is approved, the final settlement agreement must still be approved by the appropriate court. 

Call a Knowledgeable Attorney Today

Injury claims involving children under 18 can be complex and most parents do not how to handle them. They also do not have the time, as they need to care for their injured child.

Let our attorneys handle the legal process on your behalf so you may focus on your child’s care and wellbeing. Our attorneys have many years of combined experience and a track record of securing compensation for injury victims.  

We offer a free consultation and do not charge you anything unless we win.