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Can A Child File A Personal Injury Suit on Behalf of a Parent?

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We all know that accidents happen, but when an accident has injured yourself or a loved one, the pain from the injuries is just a fraction of the difficulty it encompasses. The injury itself can cause a host of medical visits and financial expenses, not to mention physical pain. It’s possible the injury has caused an inability to work, perhaps just temporarily, and a lot of emotional strife, too. Dealing with a personal injury can be one of the most difficult things, as some injuries are drastically life changing. Since every personal injury case is unique, the rules and regulations need to be considered on a case by case basis.

When Can A Personal Injury Case Be Filed?

If you are injured in an accident yourself, you can file a lawsuit or personal injury case against the party at fault. If a child has been injured, their parent can file a case on their behalf (and in some cases on their own behalf as well), but a child under the age of 18 cannot file a claim on their own behalf. There are, however, some situations where an adult child (who is not a minor) can file a case on behalf of their parent. Again, legal counsel can help to navigate the legal rules and statutes pertaining to your specific case.

What’s The First Step?

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligent acts of another party, the first thing to do is to seek the appropriate medical treatment, and to so do as soon as possible. This is not only first, but most important. Making sure you are getting any medical needs addressed — and in a timely manner — is crucial to your health and well being. Don’t forget that with an accident, not all injuries may appear right away; keep close attention to your body and for any new or unusual indications that there could be something wrong.

Documentation

For any medical care that comes along with an injury, there should always be documentation so it can be admitted as evidence for your case. Collecting and obtaining the correct documentation  includes retaining receipts for medical care which might include doctor’s visits, x-rays, diagnostic tests, scans or imaging, lab work, prescriptions, and any therapy, or rehab. Keep in mind that there may also be ongoing (future) medical needs, and that this should be taken into account as well when it comes to expenses. Aside from obtaining copies of expenses for medical care, it’s necessary to make reports of the injuries to medical professionals. Having all of your documentation clear and organized will make it easier as you progress along in your case.

Additional Evidence

Further documentation for any personal injury case requires photos and a description of the injury and the accident themselves. If you are able to take photos of the scene of the accident, this would be helpful too. The scene of the accident may include anything having to do with the vehicle(s) or surroundings, and most importantly, the name of, contact and insurance information of the at-fault party in the accident. The accident should also be reported promptly to the police or local authorities.

Having all of your documentation clear and organized will make it easier as you progress along in your case. While documentation of medical expenses and of the accident are key, the psychological impact of the accident (and for any caregiver of an injured party) also play a role in the evidence and strength of the case.

Can A Child File A Personal Injury Suit?

According to the law, minors cannot act for themselves in contracting with counsel or filing a lawsuit, which means that a minor child cannot file a suit on behalf of themselves or someone else. A child does have the right, though, to compensation for pain and suffering from an injury or disability in the same way that an adult does. As such, an adult is also entitled to these rights on behalf of their child. For example, a parent whose child got a spinal cord injury from a car accident is entitled to compensation for the expenses they became subjected to (medically, care for the child, missed employment or lost wages, and even psychologically as well). A parent can file a lawsuit or claim on behalf of their child for those injuries, although it’s important to remember that in some states the parent might need to seek the approval of a judge to do so.

One exception where a child can file a case would be if they were an adult child who is filing a case on behalf of their parent, for example. Of course, since each case is unique in nature, the nuances should be discussed with a knowledgeable attorney. If an adult child is named as a power of attorney (by the parent), or is appointed one by the court, then the adult child would be able to file a personal injury case on behalf of the parent.

Another situation where an adult child would file a personal injury case on behalf of their parent could be if the parent was injured and their injuries caused them to be unable to make decisions for themselves, or if the parent was already in such a state at the time the accident occurred. Either way, the adult child would need to seek guardianship of the parent from the courts if they have not already been appointed as a power of attorney to the parent. These appointments are what would allow the adult child to file a case, then.

Making The Best Choice

Again, cases of personal injury are nuanced, complex processes. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney will put you in the best position to determine how to proceed with your case. With personal injury cases, attorneys only take a fee if the case has been won — and it is also a responsibility of the personal injury attorney to bear the burden of dealing with the insurance company, who is often the one defending the at-fault party. Allow an experienced attorney at Trial Lawyers for Justice help you along this arduous journey.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".