Children and Personal Injury: What Parents Can Do
Since you're an adult, you know that you have the legal right to seek compensation for injuries that result from someone else's carelessness. You can visit a lawyer, file a claim, receive the medical treatment you need, and do anything related to a personal injury claim yourself.
But what happens if you're a parent and your child was involved in an accident that resulted in personal injury?
Your child legally can't file the claim on his or her own, so you'll have to file a claim on their behalf. Below, we provide you with a few tips so you can better understand what you as a parent can do if your child is involved in a personal injury case.
1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Like in any personal injury case, you'll want to seek medical treatment for your child as soon after an accident as possible. Seek emergency medical care if necessary, and contact a physician you trust to examine and treat your child.
If possible, call your child's pediatrician or primary care physician so your child can be treated by a medical expert they already know. Your child may feel scared or anxious after sustaining an injury, and working with strangers may agitate that anxiety. By working with your child's doctor, you can help your child feel more comfortable and receptive to treatment.
Remember to take extra care with treatment as well. You can gauge your own pain and discomfort levels well, but you can't determine the pain your child feels. Additionally, since your child is still growing and developing, they may need treatment for a longer period of time to ensure the injury won't affect them later on in life.
Before you sign any paperwork releasing your child from care and treatment, contact your personal injury attorney. You don't want to prematurely suspend treatment, and your lawyer can make sure that your child has received all the care that they need to make a full recovery.
2. Talk to a Lawyer About Parental Responsibility Laws
When you meet with a personal injury attorney about your child's injuries, ask about parental responsibility laws that relate to personal injury.
Essentially, these laws dictate that parents are legally responsible for the negligent and intentional acts of their children. However, depending on the situation, the child's age, and the child's ability to know right from wrong, the child can also be held responsible for their own actions.
These laws vary by state, so your attorney can tell you more about how the laws in your state affect your claim.
3. Collect All Documents Relating to the Case
Keep track of your child's treatment and collect all documents that relate to their personal injury case. Ask your child's doctor for copies of exams, test results, medical paperwork, and the doctor’s professional opinion of your child's situation.
If you have any other documents that relate to the case, gather those items as well. As you collect this evidence, you can better support your child's claim and receive just compensation for their injuries.
4. Gather Reliable Statements of the Incident
To further solidify your child's claim, you'll want witness statements to prove that another person's negligence or intent caused your child's injury. The offending party's insurance adjusters and lawyers will try to avoid compensating your child if they can — and they'll use any means possible to deny your claim's validity.
For example, attorneys and insurance adjusters may ask other children to give an account of the incident. If the adjusters and lawyers find a variation in the other children's accounts, they may use those discrepancies to discredit your claim.
If possible, gather reliable witness statements of the incident. Talk to other adults who were present at the accident scene. If the authorities were called, request a copy of the police report and add this information to your evidence file.
5. Understand What Happens to Your Child's Settlement Funds
Even if you file a claim on your child's behalf, he or she legally cannot access their compensation funds until they turn 18. Once the settlement has been approved by the courts, the money will sit in an account established by the court clerk.
However, some circumstances allow your child to receive these compensatory funds before he or she turns 18. Your lawyer can tell you more about this process.
If your child has suffered a personal injury, use the information above to file a claim on his or her behalf. As you work with a personal injury attorney, ask questions if you don't understand certain factors that may affect your child's case.
You can rely on your attorney to avidly defend your child's legal right to receive compensation, regardless of your child's age.
For additional insight as to how an attorney can advocate for you or your child, read through our other blog posts. You should also visit our blog regularly for new updates.