If your child was injured in an accident in Florida, you may be wondering if they can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. Children have the same rights to receive compensation for an injury as an adult. But, Under Florida Statute s. 744.301, if a minor suffers an accident in which they become injured, the child will be unable to make a personal claim until they are eighteen years of age. Therefore, the responsibility to handle the claim lies in the hands of the parents or legal guardians.
Steps to Take if your Child Has Suffered Injuries in an Accident
Every accident is different, and your child may have been injured by anything from a dog bite to a car accident. Whatever type of accident has happened to your child, these steps will help guide you in how to handle your own personal situation.
- Get medical attention – Your child’s well-being is of the utmost importance. Even if there are no visible injuries, it is crucial to get your child a medical examination after an injury. Even if you are unsure, it is always best to have a doctor perform a physical examination after an injury. This will not only ensure that your child gets the care and / or medicine they need but will also serve as proof that there was an injury caused by the accident should some greater related issue arise later.
- Keep evidence – Along with all medical records associated with the accident-related injuries, you also want to keep receipts for any other expenses and financial losses. Other financial losses include lost wages for missed time at work to care for your child, and childcare expenses if your child is not able to attend school and you need to provide care during your work hours, for example. You may later be compensated for these and many other financial burdens, depending on the severity of your child’s injury caused by the accident. Evidence may also include photographs of your child’s injuries and the scene of the accident, surveillance camera footage, witness testimonies, or significant articles such as clothing taken from the accident.
- Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer – Even if you do not know yet who was at fault, or you do not feel you have all of the pieces of the accident together, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable, experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You should never let your child speak with the insurance adjuster until your lawyer is present, as this could decrease the amount received in your child’s claim. It is also important to avoid social media as this could be used to undermine your compensation claim. Your lawyer will help you to file your dependent’s claim. You can read more about filing a claim below.
When is Court Approval Necessary for a Child in Florida?
- Court approval is necessary if the money recovered is greater than $15,000.
How Do I Get Court Approval on Behalf of My Child in Florida?
To receive court approval, you will need to file a Petition for Approval of Settlement. This petition must include a summary of the case, assertion of negligence and liability, damages resulting from the negligence, and the total claim for compensation.
The Judge will assess the Petition and make a decision as to whether the terms are in the best interest of the child.
In the case where the settlement of a child’s personal injury claim does not exceed $15,000, these funds are usually disbursed to the parents to use in the child’s best Interest. If the amount of the settlement of the claim exceeds $15,000, a formal guardianship is required in order to ensure the distribution of funds for the child. The money is put in a bank account which can be accessed only by court order.
Types of Coverage for Child Injuries in the State of Florida
Children can receive compensation for both economic as well as non-economic damages, in the same manner as an adult filing a claim for a personal injury. Some examples of these damages include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Medical treatment
- Personal care
- Sleep loss
- Pain and suffering
- Depression – a loss of enjoyment of life due to inability to engage in previous activities
- Grief for your injuries or for loss of loved ones
- Loss of job or ability to work – a parent or guardian can also receive compensation in the case that they cannot work while taking care of their injured child or dependent.
- Loss of consortium – consequences that the accident has on the victim’s relationship with their parents
Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Claims for Children
Florida has a statute of limitations of four years for personal injury lawsuits, however, there is an exception when it comes to minors being injured. The statute of limitations is extended until the child is no longer a minor, so that at 18 years of age, the child can file a claim legally on their own behalf. If the child’s parents or legal guardians wish to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of their son or daughter, that complaint must be filed within four years of the accident.
Contact Us Today
If your child suffered injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, you should consider speaking to a personal injury attorney right away. There are many details to a personal injury claim and it is easy for something relevant to be overlooked. Your primary focus is on helping your child deal with the aftermath of the accident and begin the healing process. Let us help you and your family by dealing with the insurance company, gathering all the necessary documentation needed to provide evidence in support of the compensation claim, and fighting to ensure your child gets the compensation they deserve.
We pride ourselves on providing our clients compassionate, honest, and dedicated legal counsel. As one of Florida’s leading personal injury firms, we have helped countless accident victims recover the compensation they are entitled to receive from the negligent party. We understand how devastating an accident can be, especially if it was your child that was injured.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation or call (727) 381-2300.