Injuries can happen to people of all ages, but when a child gets hurt because of the actions of another person, parents may wonder what they can do to help cover the cost of the pain, the medical expenses, and the changes that occur because of the nature of the injury.
Because children do not have the same mental capacity as fully mature adults, they have special protections under the law, which means that personal injury lawsuits may be handled differently, depending on the age and situation. Here's what parents should know about personal injury lawsuits involving children.
Parents on Behalf of Minors
Children do have the right to get compensation for injuries just like any adult. However, they cannot file a lawsuit as a minor, which is why parents must sue on a minor's behalf.
The only exception to this rule is teenagers who are legally emancipated from their parents. Emancipated minors are considered adults in most legal situations, and they can file a lawsuit or be sued by another party without the support of a parent or guardian.
Children Who Cause Injuries
It becomes more challenging when the person responsible for your child's injuries is also a minor. For example, if some school bullies injure your child, you might want to file a civil suit as well as juvenile criminal charges.
Very young children who may not fully understand their actions are usually not held liable for injuries they cause to someone else. For example, a four-year-old child who causes an injury to your child at a preschool during recess would not be liable for the injury, even if your child does need extensive medical care.
The rules change a bit when the child is able to comprehend their own actions. For example, teens who cause injuries to others in a car accident should hold to the same civil standards as any other car driver.
Children and preteens who have a basic understanding of actions and consequences may also hold a certain degree of liability. If an older child, for example, throws a heavy object at another child with the intention to harm them, you might pursue a lawsuit against them, to be paid out by the parents of the child.
Parents can also be liable for the actions of a child if responsible parenting could have prevented the action. Negligence on behalf of another child's parent could have directly resulted in your child's injury.
Unintentional injuries might also be paid out by the family of the child. For example, a preteen mowing the lawn might accidentally throw a rock with the blades, hitting your child playing the next yard. Homeowner's insurance usually covers these types of accidents.
Negligence and Intentional Harm
Usually, however, most injuries to children occur because of intentional harm or because someone was negligent. An injury at preschool, for example, might have occurred because there wasn't adequate supervision for children or because the play equipment was not well maintained or was defective.
Injuries caused by car accidents are handled by insurance companies and are backed with police reports, so litigation for children's injuries can be more straightforward in these cases.
In some special circumstances, injuries to children warrant more aggressive lawsuits. Dog bite injuries to very young children, for example, may warrant more compensation than an attack on an adult. Similarly, people with swimming pools that do not have proper safety features in place might also hold more liability if a child is injured.
For more information on whether your child's injuries and the circumstances involved warrant a personal injury lawsuit, contact us at The McDaniel Law Firm Blog.