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What Special Considerations Should Be Given to Personal Injury Cases With Minors?

Personal injury cases that involve minors come with unique challenges and considerations. At HHJ Trial Attorneys, we understand the intricacies of such cases, and we’ve devoted ourselves to helping the youngest members of our communities fully recover.

 

In this blog, our San Diego personal injury lawyers will delve into the significant considerations needed in personal injury cases involving minors. We’ll explore their legal components and the delicate and caring nature required to resolve this type of situation.

 

What Defines a Personal Injury Case Involving Minors in California?

Personal injury law is a broad legal arena encompassing numerous types of claims from victims of negligence. To develop their knowledge, personal injury lawyers must decide their area of expertise within each sub-specialty early on in their careers.

 

Some popular choices include medical malpractice, car accidents, product liability, dog bites, and unsafe premises. But one large subset of personal injury claims is that of lawsuits involving minors. These cases are where young people under the age of 18 are injured because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior. This assumption of responsibility is either negligent or intentional.

 

This sort of incident—and hence, this type of case—might be due to a dog bite, a slip and fall, a car accident, or any other situation that causes minor preventable harm.

How Does California Law Address Negligence in Personal Injury Cases Involving Minors?

California has a “comparative negligence” system, meaning that each party in an accident bears a degree of fault. However, the law takes a unique view when it comes to minors.

 

Minors generally are not judged by a standard of reasonable care equivalent to an adult’s. Minors are not held to exercise the care of adults because children do not think, plan, or act with the same mature reason and judgment. Therefore, California law recognizes that a child does not possess the same type of discretion, caution, and skill as an adult most likely would.

 

The standard of conduct—determining if a minor was negligent—depends on whether the minor’s conduct or behavior met an ordinary standard of care for children of similar age, mental capacity, and experience.

What Role Do Parents and Guardians Play in Pursuing Personal Injury Claims for Minors?

Parents or legal guardians play a vital role in the pursuit of a personal injury claim on behalf of an injured child. They serve as the minor’s legal representatives and decision-makers, acting in the child’s best interest.

 

The court must approve settlements involving minors in California. The court has a duty to determine that any compensation to the minor is just and reasonable. Justice must ensure the child is adequately compensated for their injuries, considering their present and future medical needs.

Are There Time Limits for Filing Personal Injury Claims for Minors in California?

Yes, they are also known as statutes of limitations for filing personal injury claims in California. However, there is an extension for minors.

 

Typically, the clock on these limitations starts on the minor’s 18th birthday, which means that the injured minor will have a specified period beyond adulthood to file a personal injury claim. It’s critical to be aware of these limitations and take appropriate action promptly to protect the rights of the minor.

How Does California Handle Compensation for Long-Term or Permanent Injuries in Minors?

When a minor suffers a severe injury resulting in long-term or even permanent damage, California courts do not limit the potential compensation that the minor may receive, as in the case of adults.

 

Damages in personal injury lawsuits in California intend to make plaintiffs “whole.” As applied to a minor, this means awarding compensation that entirely takes care of any lifelong expenses associated with any and all injuries suffered in the incident.

 

Future medical care, ongoing rehabilitation, and degree of impact on quality of life are all criteria the court could use to examine the extent of the damages awarded to the child. Finally, expert testimony is commonly used in this type of case to establish an appropriate amount of damages and justify any and all financial support.

Can Minors Bring Their Own Personal Injury Lawsuits in California?

In the state of California, a minor does not have the legal ability to file a lawsuit on their own behalf. Because of this, parents and legal guardians of minors can bring forth a case on behalf of their children for injuries suffered.

 

The lawsuit is for the minor’s personal injuries, and those acting as parents and legal guardians are called representatives of the minor. This statute protects the rights of the minor, and the child’s guardians or parents must use the awarded funds for the minor only, under a court-approved order.

What Steps Should Parents Take Immediately After a Personal Injury Incident Involving Their Child?

Whenever a minor is injured in a personal injury accident, the parents or guardians of the child must take immediate action to protect the child’s well-being and legal rights as well as to lay a solid foundation for any future legal proceedings.

 

To safeguard these rights, parents should do the following:

 

  • Ensure the child gets immediate medical attention for any injuries that they’ve sustained.
  • Preserve evidence at the accident scene: Document the scene with a camera or smartphone, gather any evidence, and take plenty of pictures.
  • Obtain the names and contact information of witnesses who may have seen what happened.
  • Report the accident to the appropriate authority.

 

Parents or guardians of the injured child should also contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who explicitly handles cases on behalf of minors.

Why Is Expert Legal Representation Essential in Personal Injury Cases Involving Minors?

Handling personal injury cases involving minors requires an exceptionally detailed understanding of the laws and regulations regarding personal injury and procedure and the mixed bag of emotions that suffering an injury causes minors.

 

The role of an attorney is vital for several reasons:

 

  • California Laws: Getting the help of a practiced attorney with experience in the realm of personal injury in California means having someone on your side who can traverse these particular laws, regulations, and procedures on your behalf.

 

  • Court-Approved Settlements: That same attorney can also help receive court approval on settlement, ensuring the settlement is in the minor’s best interest.

 

  • Negotiations: Attorneys must often negotiate with other attorneys, insurance companies, and opposing counsel regarding the settlement.

 

The above clarifies why enlisting a practiced attorney is in the minor’s best interest.

Compensation Your Child Deserves With Experienced Legal Help

HHJ Trial Attorneys understands the challenges of personal injury cases involving minors. We know the challenge of seeing a child hurt from an incident caused by negligence. That understanding commits us to serve as your legal representation and provide you with the support your family needs during this difficult time.

 

Let us partner with you and fight for your child’s rights to seek compensation for the unjust injuries they’ve suffered. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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