My Child Has Been Injured! What Do I Do?
No parent ever wants to see their child injured, but sadly, it will happen. It can feel like you have no ability to fix the situation, and while you cannot heal your child’s injuries, you can file suit on their behalf if you believe their negligence played a role in the harm your child suffered. In some ways filing suit on behalf of a minor child is similar to filing on your own behalf, but there are a couple of differences that do matter in terms of potential recovery. An experienced attorney on your side can help smooth out the process.
Minors Cannot File Suit
While there are many varied ways a child can be injured, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that accidents rank in the top 3 causes for all children under the age of 14. Obviously, some injuries simply happen, due to unavoidable events or the child’s own negligence, but accidents can also occur due to the negligence of another person. Florida law generally holds that when someone has responsibility for a minor child, they have a duty to exercise reasonable care – just as much or more than one must exercise in interactions with adults.
Minor children are not generally held to the same standard as adults, meaning that they cannot be required to act in the same way (that is, to take as much care for their own safety). This means that if children are injured due to the negligence of another person – usually an adult – that adult may be held liable for their behavior. However, minors are not permitted to file lawsuits in Florida; the minimum age to do so is 18. This means that a parent or guardian must do so, filing as “next friend” so that the suit can go forward.
Additional Settlement Requirements
In a personal injury lawsuit filed under a theory of negligence, as most child injury cases are, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s failure to exercise due care, and their ensuing breach of their duty of care, was the direct cause of your child’s injury. You must also be able to show that your child suffered actual injury – that is, long-lasting harm, rather than mere cuts and bruises or shock. If this is successful, you may be able to recover for both economic (tangible) damages, like medical bills, and for intangible damages like pain and suffering or loss of quality of life.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you do receive a settlement or jury award, there are some situations where court approval is required before the award can be finalized. In most cases, Florida law requires that if your child’s settlement is over $15,000, court approval must be necessary before it can proceed. If the settlement is for a larger amount, both court approval and the appointment of a guardian ad litem are required, meaning that the child will not be able to touch the money until they reach the age of 18.
Call A Tampa Child Injury Attorney
A parent’s first obligation is to ensure the safety of their child, but after that, it is natural to want to try and hold the person you believe is responsible for your child’s injury to account. The Tampa child injury attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group can offer knowledgeable and compassionate representation at what can be a frightening time for your family. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.