In many cases, a child does not sustain life-threatening or serious injuries in a car accident. Sadly, this is not always the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the leading the cause of death for children in the United States. During 2014, more than 121,350 children were injured in car accidents. In 2015, 663 children under the age of 13 were killed in motor vehicle crashes.
When a child is injured in a car accident, the parents feel helpless to do anything. They cannot undo the physical and emotional injuries caused by the accident. Parents can only try to help their child heal from the injuries and return to his or her life before the accident. Tragically, it is not always simple. Some children suffer permanent disabilities and long-term pain and suffering from their injuries. For these children and their parents, life will never be the same.
Filing a Lawsuit After Your Child Was Hurt
You may not be considering legal action because you have been concerned with your child’s emotional and physical well-being. However, as a parent of an injured child, you should consider filing a car accident lawsuit. Your child has the same rights and privileges as adults in Pennsylvania to hold a negligent driver liable for damages sustained in a car crash. Although a monetary judgment does not undo the damage caused by a reckless driver, it can help provide ongoing medical treatment and counseling for your child.
Three Differences You Will Notice in a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Your Child
Car accident lawsuits involving children proceed much like a lawsuit filed by an adult victim. However, there are some differences that area designed to protect the best interest of the child.
In most car accident cases, the victim has two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit. However, when the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations is tolled (paused) until the child’s 18th birthday. Therefore, your child has two years from his 18th birthday (or his 20th birthday) to file a lawsuit. Allowing the child to reach legal age before beginning the statute of limitations permits medical professionals to diagnose the child’s injuries fully as he or she reaches maturity. In some cases, the full extent of an injury cannot be known when a child is very young.
Another difference relates to who can file the lawsuit. A minor does not have the legal capacity to sue another person or entity. Therefore, a parent must initiate the lawsuit on behalf of the child. Attorney fees are capped to protect the minor’s best interest. Each county caps the fee for an attorney when a minor is involved and that cap can vary from district to district.
Lastly, any settlement of a claim for a minor must be approved by the court, including the distribution of the proceeds of the settlement. This is done to ensure that the settlement is in the best interest of the child and that the child’s funds are protected until he or she reaches the age of 18 years.
Call an Erie Car Accident Attorney for Help
If you child has been injured in a car accident, don’t wait to contact an attorney. Learn about your child’s legal rights and the laws governing claims involving minors from a trusted Erie accident attorney.