When children are hurt and injured in an accident, how long do they have to wait before they can file a lawsuit? The answer varies depending on the age of the child, the type of injury that they sustained, and the state that they live in.
Each state has a different ruling when it comes to injured children. However, here are some general guidelines you can take note of that are applicable to lawsuits that involve children across the country.
Here are three legal considerations to think of concerning child injury cases:
Statute of Limitations
When an injury happens, the clock starts to tick. This is called the statute of limitations, which is the time period when a person can file for any legal action as a result of the injury. This may vary per state and is dependent on the type of injury. However, for injuries that involve a child or a minor, the statute of limitations doesn’t start until the child is 18 years old. Some states such as Texas set 2 years as the time period when they can file a lawsuit – meaning that the child can pursue legal action until he or she turns 20.
If a child is legally emancipated however, he or she can be considered an adult and does not need to wait until he or she turns 18. Furthermore, the case may not be different for medical malpractice or sexual abuse lawsuits. Thus, it is always best to consult with your lawyer to know the rules that govern your state and your situation.
Reasonable Child Standard of Care
When it comes to negligence lawsuits, the courts expect adults to act with reasonable care to not cause the injuries to themselves. Otherwise, they may be found liable as well under the guidelines of contributory and comparative negligence. If they acted in a negligent manner which corroborated to the injuries they sustained, then the other party may not be held fully liable.
For children on the other hand, the same principle applies except that they need to know that he or she acted as a reasonable child – one of the same age, experience, maturity and intelligence. However, if the child was engaging in an adult activity such as riding a jet ski or a snowmobile, then the court may expect that he or she act as a reasonable adult instead.
When it is your time to step in as a parent or a guardian
If the lawsuit results in a reward for the child, then he or she may not be able to receive the money until he or she turns 18. However, for claims related to medical and hospital expenses, the compensation may be given to the parent or guardian, as it can be assumed that it was them who shouldered the bills.
Child injury cases are complicated and difficult to maneuver, and as such it is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer who knows the best ways to receive compensation for the damages and injuries that your child sustained. If you are in need of a competent and compassionate lawyer who will uphold your interests, contact W.T. Johnson today.