An injury to your child in a car accident can be terrifying. Even if you’re in the same wreck, your child’s injuries can be quite different from yours, and their claims for those injuries have some special considerations. First, the younger the child, the harder it can be get them the medical help they need. Infants and toddlers can’t tell you exactly what’s hurting, so it’s CRITICAL to involve their pediatrician. Even if you’re referred to a specialist for your child’s care, keep the regular pediatrician in the loop.
Statutes of limitations are different for kids’ cases, too. The statute for a child’s pain and suffering is “tolled”, or postponed, until they reach 18, and that’s when it starts to run. You typically aren’t going to wait that long to resolve their cases, but the law does give them extra time. HOWEVER, a child’s claim for medical expenses is called a derivative claim, and it belongs to the parents. If you have missed time from work specifically to care for your child, you have a derivative claim for that lost income as well. The statute for limitations for the medical expenses and parental lost income can run three years from the date of the injury, just like an adult’s claim. There are ways to get around those requirements, but you need a lawyer to help you navigate those.
Finally, for an minor’s claim worth more than a few thousand dollars, the insurance company can have a judge approve the settlement for the child’s pain and suffering, and have that money either held in trust or locked into a structured settlement until the child turns 18. This law was enacted because some parents would simply take their kids’ money and spend it on themselves. There are almost no exceptions to this law, although judges do have some limited leeway in a very few cases.
At the Miller Law Group, our lawyers have handled hundreds of claims for children over their combined 50 years of practice. If your child has been hurt in a car wreck or otherwise has a personal injury claim, contact us here or call us at 919-348-4361 for a free consultation. Let us help you protect your family.