No matter how hard we try, parents cannot guarantee their child’s safety. That’s especially true when an injury occurs due to the negligence of others. When a child has been seriously injured as a result of an accident or intentional abuse, an experienced child injury attorney may be able to help.
The law treats lawsuits involving child injuries differently than other personal injury lawsuits because children are not fully developed or mature, and damages arising from child injuries can be unique. For example, a minor in Georgia may not file a lawsuit, so a “next friend” or guardian must bring the lawsuit on behalf of the injured child.
Once a lawsuit is filed, an injured child can recover for damages such as past and future pain and suffering, the medical costs they have and will incur to treat the injury, and any loss of future income after age 18 caused by the injury.
The nature of these damages underscores why it’s crucial to retain an attorney experienced in child injury lawsuits—it is hard to quantify how a child’s injury will affect them for the rest of their lives, especially if the injury causes a disability or requires years of therapy. An experienced child injury lawyer will obtain expert opinions and maximize the potential award your child is entitled to. That experience and diligence can be the difference between a one-time payment and continued payments and support to your child over the course of his or her life.
Additionally, your child may not be the only one who has a claim based on the injury they suffered. Georgia law recognizes that parents may have a claim against the person or entity that injured their child. These types of damages include the medical costs the parents had to pay and the loss of services and income the child could have contributed before turning 18 years old.
The damages you and your child are entitled to often depend on the child’s age and how the injury occurred. For example, children under the age of four are not considered capable of acting negligently, so any carelessness on their part that contributed to the injury cannot be held against them. In contrast, an older child may face a reduced damages award if their injury was partially due to their negligence or carelessness.
Even after you obtain a verdict or settlement for your child’s injury, the battle isn’t over. If there is a settlement, the court may have to first determine whether it is a fair settlement. And where the recipient of the award is a minor, the law requires that a probate court order a “conservator” to hold the award in trust until the child turns 18 years old.
This process is designed to protect children from parents or guardians that would spend the money that was awarded to the child, but it is a difficult process to navigate. Maneuvering through the probate courts in Georgia requires an attorney with experience in guardianships, conservatorships, and trusts. One alternative to going through the probate court is structuring a settlement with the party-at-fault that pays out once the child becomes an adult.
There are various other laws and procedures that make child injury lawsuits more complicated than ordinary personal injury suits. For example, a minor has until his twentieth birthday to sue for his or her injuries, while a parent only has two years. There are also exceptions when the injury is caused by medical malpractice. A child injury lawyer will know these rules and can guide the family of an injured child through the process.
If you believe your child was injured by someone’s negligence or unlawful conduct, your child may have a claim against them under Georgia law to recover compensation for his or her injury. In fact, you, as a parent, may also have a claim based on your child’s injury.
Cases involving child injuries are complex under Georgia laws. There are different damages at stake than in cases involving injured adults, and there are different rules governing how those damages can be awarded. That’s why it’s important to consult a child injury lawyer. Call us now for a free and confidential consultation and learn more about your rights as the parent of an injured child.