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Do you need help fighting for personal injury claims for minors? Get in touch with Conoscienti and Ledbetter, we can hold your hand through the process. Call us today.
Author: J. Blake Ledbetter, Partner, Conoscienti & Ledbetter
Mr. Ledbetter specializes in civil litigation in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, and possesses vast experience in wrongful death lawsuits. Mr. Ledbetter was recognized as a SuperLawyers Rising Star in 2018 and 2019 in the area of Civil Litigation. Published on September 09, 2023.
In Georgia, child injuries may occur due to the recklessness or negligence of another person. Child injury claims usually arise after an accident that involves children under eighteen. Children have the same rights as adults to recover compensation and damages for their injuries. However, Georgia courts handle these claims differently.
Injured children cannot bring claims themselves like in a personal injury case involving adults. Sometimes, a parent’s concern for their injured child overshadows their need to file a lawsuit. However, the costs of treating their child’s injuries can be overwhelming.
Georgia law makes provisions for parents or legal guardians to bring a personal injury claim on their child’s behalf. The parent or legal guardian filing the claim is called the next friend.
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After you file a lawsuit, the court may assign a guardian if they decide you will not act in your child’s best interest. This person is responsible for representing your child’s rights and interests. They will also ensure there are no conflicts of interest when awarding compensation.
In personal injury cases involving minors, parents often file two separate claims. One of them is to compensate the parent, while the other is to compensate the child. Under the parent’s claim, they may seek:
Any wages lost while caring for the child
Any other expenses for caring for the child’s injury
Reimbursement of medical expenses
The claim for the child covers compensation for the injuries suffered. It may also cover future expenses and lost wages for their injuries. Georgia law (GA Code 29-3-3) has specific provisions that govern the negotiation of settlement funds. Parents or legal guardians may negotiate compensation of less than $15,000. But, any amount above $15,000 requires court approval.
The parent or guardian must become a legal conservator appointed by the Probate Court. The minor’s attorney or insurance company must file a petition to get approval. If the court approves the settlement agreement, the parent or guardian may receive the funds. Without approval, the child can bring a claim against the at-fault party when they turn eighteen.
After a child injury, the parent or guardian may request the following:
- Any out-of-pocket expenses
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Cost for emotional counseling or therapy
- Medical bills
- Other expenses related to the injury
- Lost wages for both child and parent (if applicable)
- Physical and emotional damages
Time Limit for Bringing Personal Injury Claims on Behalf of Minors
In Georgia, the time frame for bringing personal injury claims is two years from the date of injury. However, children can only file a lawsuit once they turn eighteen. So, the statute of limitations will begin when they become adults.
Delaying the filing of your claim until they turn eighteen may not be the best option. They may not recover the total value of compensation if you wait. Additionally, there may be other exceptions to the statute of limitations under Georgia law.
Don’t delay. Schedule a risk-free consultation today.
Although the person injured is a child, the same legal elements apply, including:
- The negligent party owed your child a duty of care
- There was a breach of that duty
- The child sustained injuries as a direct result of the breach
- Damages were suffered because of the breach
In determining negligence, Georgia courts apply the reasonable person standard. This standard may be adjusted if the child is partially to blame. Courts do not generally hold children to the same standards as adults. This is because they lack the maturity to understand the consequences of their actions.
What Happens to the Money Received from a Child Injury Claim?
How money received from a settlement agreement is used depends on who receives the money. The court may decide how the settlement funds should be spent. If they award the funds to a guardian, they will decide how to use them.
The guardian must use the funds to provide for the child’s needs. This includes providing proper healthcare and paying medical bills.
Did your child sustain injuries in an accident caused by someone’s negligence? Hiring experienced Atlanta lawyers is recommended. At Conoscienti and Ledbetter, we know that child injury cases can be complicated. We understand you may not have time while caring for your child’s injuries.
Our attorneys can handle the legal process so you can care for your child. We will investigate the cause of the injury and gather evidence proving negligence and fault. We will also analyze your case and help you determine compensation. Our attorneys have many years of experience handling personal injury cases. We can protect your rights and help you secure adequate compensation.
For more information about child injury claims, contact our law office today.