Babies are cute, cuddly, and extremely vulnerable to harm. In fact, babies are at risk of suffering serious, lifelong injuries before they’re even born. Every year, thousands of babies are hurt before, during, or after delivery, and they often experience complications that can impact them for the rest of their lives.
In addition, newborns, infants, and toddlers are also at risk of the same types of injuries as everyone else, including car accident injuries.
When babies are harmed, their parents can file personal injury claims on their behalf to get money for their medical expenses, but that doesn’t always happen. Young children usually don’t comprehend that their injuries were preventable and may have been caused by negligence, but as children grow up, they start to understand what happened—and they may want compensation.
Minors Can’t File Personal Injury Claims, but Their Parents Can
Children under the age of 18 don’t have the legal standing to file personal injury claims on their own. However, their parents can file claims on their behalf. If they decide to file personal injury claims for reimbursement of their losses, including medical bills and lost wages, they must file within the standard statute of limitations, which is two years from the date of the injury.
Injured Children Can File Claims Upon Turning 18 Years Old
Not all children are in situations where their parents are able or willing to file injury claims on their behalf. But children who were harmed as babies may want to pursue compensation when they’re legally allowed to do so.
In this case, children can file claims for injuries that occurred to them at any point in their lives as soon as they turn 18 years old. However, upon turning 18, the statute of limitations begins, which means children have from the ages of 18 to 20 to file claims.
Children’s Medical Malpractice Claims Have Stricter Time Requirements
Medical malpractice claims for children work similarly to personal injury claims, but on a shorter timeline. Children who were harmed by negligent medical care can have claims brought on their behalf for up to two years after they turn 6 years old.
That means that even children who were harmed as infants can still have medical malpractice claims filed by their parents as long as they begin before they turn 8 years old. However, if the malpractice incident occurs after a child’s 6th birthday, the standard two-year statute of limitations still applies.
Children Under Age 7 Are Never at Fault for Their Injuries
Proving fault is a major issue for all injury and medical malpractice claims. But when those claims involve children under the age of 7, fault never falls on them. In addition, fault is unlikely to be assigned to children between the ages of 7 and 14. Children over the age of 14 may be held to the same standards as adults, which means they may be found partially or fully at fault for their accidents and injuries.
Who Gets the Money When Children’s Personal Injury Claims Are Won?
Personal injury and medical malpractice claims can be worth tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. And when children are harmed, it’s important to factor in how their injuries will affect them for the rest of their lives. Compensating them for a lifetime of pain or disability may be impossible, but the legal system is the best way to restore at least some semblance of justice for them.
But what happens when children win personal injury claims that are filed on their behalf? Children cannot manage large sums of money, so guardians must be appointed to receive and manage settlements when they’re at least $10,000 in value until the children turn 18. When settlements are less than $10,000, the children’s parents may receive the money directly provided it’s used to support or benefit their children.
Childhood Injuries Deserve Compensation, And We’re Here to Help
It’s always devastating when another person or party causes a serious injury because of negligence. But devastation turns to tragedy when it happens to a child. Unfortunately, children face many risks every day, whether they’re newborns in the care of incompetent doctors, infants traveling alongside reckless drivers, or grade-schoolers walking to class near dangerous roadways.
At Wagner Reese, our Indiana personal injury lawyers know what it takes to win compensation claims, whether they’re filed for adults or for their children. We also know how to maximize recoveries, so that our clients get full payment for what they’ve been through—not just a quick settlement.
If your child was harmed by negligence, we want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.