How Florida Law treats someone’s negligence causing child injury

It is perhaps every parent’s worst nightmare. You are involved in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s negligence and your ten-year-old child, who was in the car with you at the time, is injured as a result of the accident. Your child suffers an injury and this child injury requires significant medical treatment, causing you to incur substantial out of pocket costs for the portions of her care not covered by your health insurance. Despite receiving care from the best physicians and healthcare providers in your area, your child’s injuries are expected to be permanent, with him walking with a limp caused by the accident for the rest of his life. 

If your child is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, then he or she has the same right under Florida law to seek compensation for his or her injuries or other damages as any adult would. However, the procedure for a child to do is slightly different than an adult, depending on the child’s age. For instance, if the child is over 18, then he or she would be able to hire an attorney, file an insurance claim with the negligent motorist’s insurer, file suit if the case is not resolved in pre-suit negotiations with the negligent motorist’s insurer, and pursue a claim on his or her own behalf just like an adult would be permitted to do. 

However, if the child is under the age of 18, then the procedure under Florida law to seek compensation for that minor child’s injuries and damages caused by someone else is much more complicated. In this scenario, you would want to ensure that the attorney you retain on behalf of your child is experienced in representing minors, to make sure that your child is able to recover maximum damages for her injuries, but also to ensure the entire process is handled correctly.

The Procedure for Filing Minor Child Injury Claims and How These Claims Eventually Resolve

You, as the parent(s) of the injured child in the hypothetical above, would bring the claims on behalf of your son based on his injuries and other damages caused by the negligent motorist that caused the accident to your son and the damages that he incurred as a result of that motorist’s negligence. You would do so by filing an insurance claim and, if necessary, eventually a lawsuit on behalf of your injured child. It would be your name as the guardian of the child that would appear in the lawsuit and would be filed against the negligent motorist that caused the accident to recover the damages that your child is entitled to under Florida law.

The reason that you would bring suit on behalf of your child is that he is still a minor and not at an age where Florida considers him able to make decisions like whether to settle his claims or not. However, it is important to note that any recovery would go to your child. If a settlement is reached or there is a jury verdict that results in damages being awarded to your child, then the court will take a much more active role in supervising the process than would normally be the case with a personal injury case filed by an adult. This is because the claim/lawsuit was filed on behalf of the child and, as such, the proceeds from that claim belong to the child. Therefore, the court is required to ensure that any settlement is in the best interests of the minor child. For example, the judge presiding over the case will ensure that any settlement is fair, typically by appointing a guardian ad litem if the proposed settlement is over $50,000, often another attorney, to give an opinion as to whether or not the proposed settlement is indeed fair or not to ensure that the settlement is truly in the best interests of your injured child given the injuries she sustained and not simply a lowball offer by the negligent motorist’s insurer to try to get the claim settled as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Any money that is awarded and/or received is then placed into a trust with your son as the beneficiary and that money can only be spent on him given that the claim belonged to him. Any disbursements of that money, such as to pay the continuing expenses of his medical treatment for his injuries, would need to be approved by the judge. 

Contact Schwed Adams & McGinley if Your Child Has Been Injured in Florida

At Schwed Adams & McGinley, our experienced personal injury attorneys have decades of legal experience representing minor children who have been injured in a wide variety of scenarios, including in motor vehicle accidents and a variety of other personal injury scenarios. Although pursuing a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor does involve additional procedural steps that some attorneys may not be familiar with as compared with pursuing the average personal injury claim, our experienced personal injury attorneys have pursued, and successfully settled or tried, numerous cases involving children under the age of 18 who have suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence. We know the exact steps to take if your child or one of your loved ones under the age of 18 has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. Therefore, if your child or a minor loved one has been injured in a Florida motor vehicle accident or other personal injury scenario, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today at contact@schwedlaw.com or (877) 694-6079 today.