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A parent’s worst nightmare is their child being injured and suffering. Children are at risk of injuries from car accidents, premises liability, defective products, and other accidents. When a child suffers a personal injury, they may be eligible to seek compensation for their damages.
However, children under 18 years old do not have the legal standing to file a personal injury claim. Therefore, a parent or legal guardian can file a lawsuit or claim on the child’s behalf. An experienced Austin personal injury attorney can explain your options and help you recover compensation for your child’s injuries.
A minor does not have the legal capacity to file a personal injury lawsuit or make a claim for negligence. Therefore, even though the child is the one who sustained the injury, they must have an adult as a “next friend” to file a personal injury case.
According to Rule 44 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a minor may have an adult stand in for them when filing a claim. In most cases, the “next friend” is the child’s parent or legal guardian. However, the court might recognize other adults as the child’s representative.
Personal injury cases for children proceed through the same process as cases filed by adults. However, the child’s representative makes important decisions regarding the case.
Children can receive the same types of damages as adults if another party causes them injury or harm. They can receive compensation for their pain and suffering, as well as financial losses. A settlement or jury award can compensate the minor for damages to date and for future damages the child is expected to incur because of the injury.
Economic and non-economic damages in a child injury case include, but are not limited to:
Parents or guardians can also receive compensation for their expenses and lost wages incurred to take care of their child after an accident or personal injury. A court might award legal fees and costs for filing a personal injury lawsuit for a child.
In addition to compensatory damages, a child might be able to pursue punitive damages. The same requirements must be met to award punitive damages in childhood injury cases. To justify punitive damages, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted with gross negligence, malice, or fraud.
Childhood injury cases can be complicated. An injury during childhood can significantly impact a child’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. Therefore, your attorney might recommend hiring medical specialists and other expert witnesses to evaluate your child’s future damages.
The goal is to obtain fair compensation for your child’s injuries. However, we also want to seek compensation for the effects an injury has on your child as they grow and enter adulthood.
As the child’s representative, you have the burden of proving the legal elements required to establish liability for damages. Most personal injury cases are based on negligence.
Therefore, the evidence must prove that:
Your legal team will thoroughly investigate how your child was injured and identify all parties liable for your child’s damages. They’ll gather evidence from all available resources, including expert witnesses.
The statute of limitations in Texas for most personal injury cases is two years from the injury date. However, Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code §16.001 explains that the time to file a claim does not include a person’s “legal disability.” Being under 18 years old is considered a legal disability.
Therefore, your child has until their 20th birthday to file a claim in most cases. The law ensures that the child has time once they reach 18 years of age to file a lawsuit on their own behalf.
However, it is generally not a good idea to wait to file a personal injury claim for a child. The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it can be to prove that the party who injured your child is liable for damages. Key evidence could be lost or destroyed.
Waiting to file your child’s personal injury claim could weaken their case. It is best to seek legal advice from an experienced Austin child injury attorney as soon as possible.
Because the child is a minor, settlement proceeds are held in trust for the child until the child is an adult. The court holds a hearing to determine what is in the child’s best interest.
In most cases, judges order that personal injury funds for a child be:
As your child’s parent or legal guardian, you can request an option for your child, but the final decision rests with the presiding judge. An Austin personal injury lawyer can provide legal guidance regarding your options and the pros and cons of each option.
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You do not want to take any chances with your child’s personal injury case. Therefore, get legal help from a trusted Austin personal injury lawyer. Contact our law firm FVF Law at (512) 982-9328 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your child’s legal rights and how we can help you recover the money your child needs after an accident or personal injury.
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