Key Differences Between a Personal Injury Claim for an Adult and One for a Child
Bumps, falls, scrapes, and bruises are all parts of a normal childhood, and most kids only need a bandage before bolting back out to play. However, a parent’s nightmare can come true when they hear that their child has wound up in the hospital with serious injuries.
Parents cannot be there for their children 24 hours a day, so they have to put their trust in people like teachers, nannies, babysitters, daycare workers, couches, and camp counselors to watch over their children and keep them safe. However, when that guardian is negligent in their duties, the parents may want to contact an accident injury attorney in Los Angeles to file a claim.
Whether your child was injured in a classroom or on a campground, you have the right to hire a lawyer for child injuries that took place at school or anywhere else when you feel that the caregiver was negligent in their supervision. Negligent supervision is the argument at the center of most child accident cases, and it applies when the party watching your child did not act with a reasonable amount of care that the average person would have taken.
While your child may have been injured in your absence, you can still advocate for them to get justice for their pain. Although child injury claims are complicated, you may feel as if you owe it to your child to see that their caretaker pays for their negligence.
A personal injury lawyer for claims involving minors will tell you that an accident claim for a child’s injury is possible, but the filing and settlement process is different than that of an adult. These differences are meant to serve as protection for the child since they are a minor and to ensure that the outcome is fair and reasonable.
- A Minor Cannot File a Personal Injury Claim
A minor cannot represent themselves in their personal injury lawsuit, so someone else must serve as a guardian ad litem. In most situations, this is the first time in the child’s life that they must have a guardian ad litem; however, if your child had one in the past, you can use the same person.
The appointment of a guardian ad litem is fairly simple. You need to fill out Judicial Council Form CIV-010 and have the form approved by a judge.
The position of guardian ad litem is open to many different people in the child’s life, and as a parent, you are eligible to be the guardian ad litem. However, many child injury cases also result in the parent seeking compensation for the child’s medical costs, so the parent representing their child is often a conflict of interest. To avoid a conflict of interest, grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, and even a lawyer can act as the guardian ad litem. The state of California can also appoint a professional fiduciary as guardian ad litem that will represent your child’s interests fully and justly.
- There is an Extended Statute of Limitations for Cases Involving Minors
A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit.
In typical personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations to file a claim is two years after the accident at hand. However, minors who suffer injuries have an extended statute of limitations. Usually, the statute of limitations is suspended for the victim’s childhood, and it only starts to run out once they turn 18.
- Child Injury Cases Involve Different Damage Claims
Typical damages that attorneys argue are bodily injury, property damage, general damages, and punitive damages. However, different damages can be claimed in a child injury case.
An adult who is too injured to go back to work can claim lost wages in their lawsuit, but since they likely did not have a job, you can argue for loss of future income. Loss of future income damages are awarded in cases where the child’s ability to work has been impacted.
You can also claim pain and suffer and emotional distress, respectively. Even if your child recovers quickly from their injuries, they can be left with trauma that is extremely difficult to work through since they are so young and can’t articulate their emotions. It’s estimated that even toddlers can carry mental scars from a car crash that they don’t even remember years later.
Due to the trauma associated with such accidents, your Los Angeles juvenile injury attorney will recommend arguing for compensation for these damages, since they will make your child’s life more difficult.
- A Judge has to Approve the Settlement
Once your attorney reaches a settlement with the defense, your agreement must then be examined by a judge who must approve the settlement before anyone is compensated. This applies to all California cases involving children.
The final approval is done through forms MC-350 or MC-350EX, and this can be submitted by the parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem. The judge will review the case, evidence, and agreed-upon settlement to ensure that the lawsuit is in the child’s best interest.