Home / Blog / How Do Lawsuits for Injuries to Children Work?

If your child is a victim of an injury in Indiana caused by someone else’s negligence, it can be a challenging time for everyone. Many parents may wonder about their child’s legal rights as minors and how to get compensation for their injuries and medical bills.

As in most states, children in Indiana cannot legally file an injury claim or lawsuit on their own when they are injured. Instead, parents of an injured child have the right to sue the liable party on behalf of their child and themselves. You can work with one of our Indianapolis lawyers for injured children to learn more about your family’s legal options and rights.

What is the Process for Bringing a Lawsuit for Child Injuries?

A personal injury claim involving a child does not significantly differ from any other personal claim in Indiana. The claim needs to establish the at-fault party’s negligence and their connection to your child’s injuries. It must also show the extent of the harm your child suffered.

One difference is that Indiana has a contributory negligence law saying victims can be partially responsible for their own injuries and potentially ineligible for compensation for that reason. However, the state also generally acknowledges that children under the age of 14 are presumed incapable of fault.

A personal injury claim for a child requires the guidance of a knowledgeable Indianapolis attorney. At Wagner Reese, we have a track record of winning our clients fair compensation for personal injury claims. 

Statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for a minor

If you want to file a personal injury claim in Indiana, you must file within two years after the date of the incident. So in the case of a child, a parent or legal guardian can file on a child’s behalf, or a court-appointed guardian ad litem can file one in the child’s best interest.

A minor’s statute of limitations can also be extended for two years from the day they turn 18. Therefore, a child has until their 20th birthday to file a personal injury claim for themselves.

What damages are available as compensation for a child’s injury?

Children can recover compensation for pain and suffering, permanent disability, lost earning capacity as adults, and other damages. The child can file a claim on their own once they are of age, since the damages belong to them, as long as the claim is filed before their 20th birthday.

Parents can recover damages in a claim filed on their child’s behalf for their child’s past and future medical and rehabilitation expenses. They may have had to miss work to care for their child, so they can also sue for the loss of wages they would have earned if the child wasn’t injured.

Parents must adhere to Indiana’s statute of limitations for two years from the accident date. If the parents miss this deadline, the court can dismiss any future claim for damages from the parents.

How settlements are dispersed

Settling a child’s injury claim requires court approval in Indiana. If the personal injury lawsuit is successful on behalf of your child, a judge must approve any settlement offer made to a child over $10,000.

The settlement money belongs to the child and must be in a court-ordered bank account. It can be in a trust fund, savings account, or another bank account. The lawyer, guardian, or trustee has access to the account to learn and enforce the conditions and terms of the settlement.

The judge also might order a court-appointed guardian to oversee the money for the child until they reach the age of 18 to make sure it is used appropriately and for the child.

Can I access my child’s settlement money?

If the child’s settlement award is less than $10,000, the parents can receive it directly. The court allows the parents to access the settlement, but the parents must use the money they get from the settlement for the support and benefit of their child.

If you cited medical bills and rehabilitation in your personal injury claim on behalf of your child, the court marks the settlement for those expenses.

Take Action to Protect Your Child

Handling a personal injury claim for your child is a distinctive legal process in Indiana. The settlement money can help you and your family get through the financial and emotional challenges of caring for your injured child.

If your child is a victim of an injury caused by another person’s negligence, an experienced attorney at Wagner Reese can help you pursue justice for your child. With over six decades of experience in catastrophic and wrongful death cases involving minors, we tailor our legal services to your family’s unique circumstances and understand that the outcome can impact your life.

Contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and learn how we can help you protect your child’s rights.