The injury of a child is a nightmare that most parents hope they will never have to experience. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries to children happen every day. These include dog bites; bicycle, car; and school bus accidents; or sports and school activity-related accidents.
If your child’s injuries are due to the negligence of another person, then you may deserve to receive for any out-of-pocket expenses you have paid, and your child may be entitled to a financial settlement. Here are a few facts you may need to know when filing a personal injury lawsuit for your child.
1. Your Minor Child Cannot File Their Own Lawsuit
In Iowa, a child is a minor until they are 18 years old or are emancipated by the court after their 16th birthday. Iowa’s Rules of Civil Procedure 1.210 dictates that the person’s conservator or guardian must bring any lawsuit on the behalf of a minor. This rule also states that if one is not available, a next friend, who is usually a parent or guardian, or a person appointed by the court, can sue.
Because of this, your child will not be able to file their own lawsuit and you will have to file a lawsuit on your child’s behalf.
2. You Must File Within a Specific Window of Time
A personal injury lawsuit in Iowa must be filed within a two-year timeframe following the accident, or the statute of limitations.
If your child will turn 18 during this two-year window, they will have an additional year in which they will be able to file a claim. If you do not file on their behalf, or they do not file within this window following their 18th birthday, a good chance exists that the court will dismiss and not hear the case.
3. The Financial Recovery of a Child Is Different
While you may be entitled to loss of wages in your personal injury suit, most children under the age of 18 do not yet work, so loss wages does not usually apply. However, a child may be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and any type of physical impairments and disfigurements.
Any financial recovery that is specific for medical bills, attorney fees, or other expenses related to the case would be payable to you in addition to your child’s recovery. These payouts are viewed as two separate recoveries.
4. Settlement Funds Are Paid Out Differently
Recovery funds for expenses that you have paid will be paid out directly to you, while funds for a settlement for your child may be retained by the court.
This retention by the court allows the court to ensure that the funds are protected until the child turns 18. In some cases, the court may be willing to release the funds to a trust or a structured settlement that has been set up in your child’s name.
If the funds are retained by the court and your child needs access to some of the funds prior to their 18th birthday, you will be able to petition the court to release some of the funds. By providing documentation or receipts as to what the funds have been or will be used for, you can often get the court to release the needed funding.
Personal injury lawsuits for children can be challenging and emotionally difficult. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate these alone. Here at Galligan Law, we are here to assist you. With years of experience in personal injury law, we will ensure that you and your child receive all the compensation you deserve. Give us a call today so that we can help you get started on your case.