Cases involving children are handled with varied nuances that differ from
that of a case involving an adult. However, children who are injured are
entitled to the same compensation and remedies for pain and suffering
as adults. In addition to understanding that children suffer from trauma
and pain much differently than adults, it is important to understand the
differences between adult and child cases.
Authority to Bring a Case
In most cases, any adult has the right to bring a cause of action on their
own behalf. I say most cases because some adults, through illness for
instance, lose their capacity to bring a cause of action on their own
behalf or voluntarily relinquish this right. In these situations, the
cause of action must be brought by a legal guardian. Similarly, when a
child is injured, it is up to an adult, typically the child’s parent,
legal guardian or other authorized adult, to raise a claim on their behalf.
In some states, it is required that an adult bringing a claim on behalf
of a child be pre-approved to do so by a judge. Florida is different than
some other states in that the laws are less restrictive in granting parents
the liberty to bring a claim on behalf of a minor child. Nevertheless,
your attorney should have a clear understanding of the laws in Florida.
Along with these differences, there are several things to be aware of
when bringing a claim on behalf of an injured child.
In Florida, pre-approval is not required for parents or legal guardians
to bring a
personal injury claim on behalf of their children. Parents, jointly, are the natural guardians
of their minor child, whether natural or adopted. They are given the statutory
right as natural guardians to bring a cause of action on behalf of that
minor child and settle any claim, subject to court approval in certain
cases, stemming from an injury sustained by that minor child.
Typically parents and legal guardians have the right to simply hire private
counsel to represent their child’s interests in court; however,
depending on the amount of the actual proposed settlement, court approval
and the appointment of a guardian ad litem may be required.
Guardian Ad Litem
Courts possess the authority to appoint a guardian ad litem to protect
a minor child’s interest at any time. A guardian ad litem is simply
a court appointed “guardian” who represents the interests
of the child in the court system. You may wonder: why the need for a guardian
ad litem if there are parents involved? Aren’t the parents representing
the best interests of the child? The sad reality is that not all parents
truly have their own child’s best interest in mind.
Therefore, in a personal injury case involving a minor child where a case
involves a gross settlement amount to compensate for the child’s
injury that is equal to or exceeds $15,000, the court may appoint a guardian
ad litem to represent the minor child. If the gross amount exceeds $50,000,
the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem.
As you can see, depending of the amount of the settlement, a guardian ad
litem may be appointed by the court to assist in your case in addition
to your Orlando personal injury attorney. I have personally served as
a guardian ad litem and understand the duties and responsibilities.
When reaching a settlement, courts consider the best interest of the child
as a key element. Once funds are procured as the result of a settlement,
the funds are typically not disbursed to the parents directly. Usually,
the funds are placed in a guardianship account with the court or will
be paid out to the minor child in the form of an annuity when they reach
the age of 18.
If your child has been injured in any way, you are probably eager to see
justice done and be compensated for your child’s medical expenses,
pain and suffering. An Orlando personal injury lawyer at Todd Miner Law
Contact us today for a free consultation.