If your child is injured in a car crash, while in the care of another person, or while participating in an activity, you may need to address your child’s personal injury claim. These types of events are both unexpected and stressful. In most cases involving injury to a child, hiring an experienced Idaho personal injury lawyer to help deal with the complications arising from an injury claim makes sense. The mere fact that children are still growing and developing makes asserting claims for compensation for a child’s injuries naturally more complex. One hundred percent of the time it makes sense to take advantage of a free consultation to decide whether a lawyer is needed to make sure your child receives full and fair compensation for their injuries and losses.
A child has a claim for a negligent injury only if you can establish all four of the following legal components:
- Duty – The negligent party (bad guy) must have had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect your child. Whether a duty exists in a certain situation is fact dependent and varies. For example, if there is a stop sign a driver has a duty to stop for the crosswalk.
- Breach – The bad guy must have breached the duty they owed your child. If the driver ran the stop sign and hit your child in the cross walk they violated their duty to stop.
- Causation – The bad guy’s breach of the duty must have been a cause of an injury. If your child has a broken leg before he his hit in the crosswalk he doesn’t have a claim against the driver for the broken leg.
- Damages – The value of the child’s damages or losses that were caused by the bad guy.
Without proof of these four components a claim for compensation will not exist. Sometimes proof is easy: a witness sees the driver run a stop sign. Sometimes proof is hard: did the child dart out from between two cars or was he properly in the crosswalk?
All those items are the same as for an adults claim. And it is often possible to settle claims without having to go to court to prove your case.
But for children, under Idaho law a minor under the age of 18 does not have the ability to take legal action on their own. This impacts many things. It extends the standard personal injury statute of limitations to 2 years after they turn 18 or at least for an additional 6 years if they are under 12. There are other special time limitations that are impacted in various ways.
And, often a parent has incurred economic losses as a result of their child’s injuries. These claims are subject to the regular statute of limitations. If you do not settle your claims or file a lawsuit within the appropriate period of time, you may be forever barred from recovering your own economic losses.
Also, in Idaho, as in many states, court approval is required before a minor’s personal injury claim can be settled. There are special codes sections that apply when seeking approval of a “Minor’s Compromise.” In some situations, a conservatorship must be set up which requires annual reports to the court about the funds. In some situations, such as “Structured Settlements” only one interaction with the court is necessary. The Court is always concerned that the parent, guardian or conservator both knows that the settlement funds are the child’s and that the funds are protected for the child.
Both John Edwards and I have substantial experience working with “Minors Compromises” in personal injury, uninsured motorists and other types of claims. We can navigate the system, which on behalf of our clients and can guide you through this potentially complicated process.