If your child has been injured in an auto accident, there are several important steps you should immediately take to protect the rights of your child. Failure to do so in a timely fashion could result in a forfeiture of your rights. This article will explain some of the important actions you may wish to take in the event your child is affected or injured in an automobile accident.
Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents
In most states there is a 2-5 year statute of limitations, a time period from a certain date (usually of the accident) from which a person has to file a lawsuit for damages to property or personal injury as a result of an auto accident. You may need to consult with a personal injury attorney or legal guide to determine what the exact period of time you have to file a lawsuit should you choose to do so. Generally, when a minor child is injured, the 2 year time limit to file is suspended until he or she reaches the age of 18 (so the time runs out at 20 years of age.)
Parent or Guardian Must File
Children are not allowed to file their own lawsuits – an adult parent or guardian must file on their behalf for injuries and damages suffered. For similar reasons, a child cannot file a claim for medical expenses. Since parents are legally responsible for their child’s expenses, parents should file a separate lawsuit for the medical expenses they incurred or will incur personally as a result of getting medical treatment for their injured child. Parents usually have a 5 year time limit to file for medical expenses. The child can be compensated for personal pain and suffering and other things but not economic issues concerning medical expenses for which their parents are liable. If there is a permanent disability, a claim for future lost wages can also be filed.
Comparative negligence is a legal concept where the amount of liability for each party is determined based upon the amount of negligence or fault of each party. Children are generally exempt from the comparative negligence law because they may not be aware of or appreciate the circumstances which might place themselves in danger. Most states have age limits that state at what age a child is capable of comparative negligence. If the child is ruled as not being at a responsible age for comparative negligence, the driver under this condition may be able to claim the Emergency Doctrine as a defense. The emergency doctrine is a law which allows people to act in critical situations that call for an immediate action (such as a fire, car crash or a collapsing building) without the fear of being sued for negligence as a result of their good faith efforts.
Statements and Insurance Companies
Insurance companies have the right to use any statements made to the company or to a claims adjuster against claims made by you for yourself or on behalf of your child. You may wish to speak to a personal injury attorney before you sign any insurance or settlement documents – failure to do so may prevent you or your child from bringing a lawsuit in the future.
Damages and Compensation for Your Child
Accident claims, especially those involving children, can be complicated and the damage awards can vary greatly. It is important to being to prosecute a potential car accident case involving a child before too much time passes from the date of the injury.
- Past and future medical expenses
- Future earning ability loss
- Scars and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
- Accident & Injury Law:
- Car Accident
Car Accident Car Accident Laws Concerning Children
By Michael Wechsler |
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