How to Handle a Personal Injury Claim That Involves a Minor

by Staff Blogger | April 15th, 2024

As with adults, children under the age of 18 can be victims of personal injury accidents, whether they’re car accidents, premises liability incidents, or dog bite attacks. When adults are injured due to others’ negligence, they can personally file injury claims or lawsuits against the liable parties and receive compensation for their damages.

While minors have the same rights, the legal process has different requirements. This typically involves the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL), a court-appointed advocate responsible for protecting the child’s best interests during legal proceedings.

Knowing the role of a GAL and working with a California personal injury attorney can help you get your child the compensation they deserve.

The Role of a Guardian Ad Litem

In personal injury cases involving minors, a GAL focuses exclusively on the child’s welfare, providing an unbiased perspective necessary for the child’s best interests. The GAL’s responsibilities include:

  • Assessing the Child’s Needs: In personal injury cases, the GAL evaluates the child’s circumstances by examining medical records, consulting with educators, and observing their daily environment. This assessment ensures the child’s specific needs are understood and addressed throughout the legal process.
  • Making Court Recommendations: Based on their findings, the GAL proposes the most beneficial actions for the child’s welfare to the court. This might include specialized medical treatments or educational services to support the child’s recovery and development.
  • Serving as the Child’s Voice: The GAL ensures that the child’s preferences and interests are communicated to the court. They advocate for the minor’s views on living arrangements, medical care, and other aspects of the case, giving the child a meaningful role in the proceedings.
  • Liaising Between Parties: The GAL acts as a mediator between the child, their family, and all legal parties. This ensures a unified approach to addressing the child’s needs, facilitating clear and consistent communication.
  • Monitoring Case Progress: The GAL monitors the progression of the personal injury case and the enforcement of court orders. Their oversight guarantees that the child’s welfare remains a focal point of the legal process, upholding their rights and well-being.

The GAL’s role differs from that of a personal injury attorney. The minor and their family may hire a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation and handle legal claims. At Berg Injury Lawyers, we work closely with the appointed GAL in your child’s case to ensure that our legal strategies align with the minor’s needs.

Steps to Take After an Accident

After an accident involving a minor, it’s important to act quickly and decisively to protect their health and legal rights. Here’s what to do if your child is hurt in a personal injury accident:

  • Seek Immediate Medical Attention: Seek prompt medical attention for the child to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment and to document their injuries. Delayed treatment could exacerbate injuries and weaken the claim.
  • Report the Incident: Report the accident to the appropriate authorities, whether law enforcement, school officials, or other relevant parties. This creates an official incident record, which your attorney can use during the claims process.
  • Document Details and Evidence: Thorough documentation is critical for building a strong case. Collect information such as witness statements, photographs of the accident scene, and medical records detailing the minor’s injuries and treatment for your child’s claim.
  • Maintain Detailed Medical Records: Keep all records of your child’s medical expenses, treatment plans, and prognosis throughout their recovery. This documentation shows the long-term consequences of the injury on your child’s life and helps estimate appropriate damages.
  • Seek Compensation: Work with a skilled personal injury attorney to help you through every stage of the claims process. Our team at Berg Injury Lawyers can help you gather evidence, assess medical records, and negotiate with insurers for fair compensation.

If the insurer won’t settle, we can take the case to court and partner with the GAL to protect your child’s interests in a lawsuit.

Accurate Compensation for Minors

Securing fair compensation for a minor in a personal injury lawsuit requires navigating complexities not present in adult cases. Lawyers need to consider the prolonged consequences, such as medical requirements, ongoing care, psychological suffering, and the implications on the child’s quality of life.

This process might involve detailed reviews of medical records, consultations with pediatric and other specialists, and collaboration with the child’s GAL to gather insights into the child’s health and well-being.

Additional compensation considerations include the following:

  • Court Approval Requirement: Settlements for minors undergo court review to confirm they prioritize the child’s medical or educational needs. For example, a judge may scrutinize the settlement terms to ensure they adequately cover future medical treatments and rehabilitation costs.
  • Preference for Structured Settlements: In safeguarding the minor’s financial well-being, judges often prefer structured payments instead of one-time lump sums. This arrangement may involve periodic disbursements designated for educational costs or continuous medical treatment, offering a steady economic base as the child matures.

Get Skilled Legal Representation for Your Child’s Injury Case

At Berg Injury Lawyers, we specialize in advocating for the rights of minors and their families, helping them receive the financial justice they deserve. We know the laws governing settlements for minors and know how to build a strong case.

If your child has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact us for a free, confidential case review to receive legal guidance and representation.