In Texas, if a child has been injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, it may be possible for a parent or legal guardian to bring a personal injury claim on behalf of the child. However, certain factors must be considered before pursuing such a claim.
Situations Where You May Want to Pursue Personal Injury Damages for Your Child
There are many situations where an accident occurs, and another person is negligent for causing injury to a child. The following are a few of the types of accidents that we routinely see in personal injury cases brought on behalf of children in Texas.
- Car accidents- Children are injured all the time in auto accidents. Car wrecks are a leading cause of child injury.
- Daycare injury or daycare negligence- Parents rely on daycare centers to look out for their children. Yet, serious injury accidents happen all the time. In prosecuting daycare injury lawsuits for over three decades, we have learned most accidents involving younger children could have been prevented with better supervision.
- Fitness Center– child care programs
- Dangerous products- Like adults, kids can be hurt by unreasonably dangerous products.
- Scalding Burns- from negligence
- Dog Bites- Kids are likelier to be bitten by dogs, and many occur weekly in Houston.
Who Brings a Personal Injury Claim in Texas for a Child?
A vital factor to consider is who can bring the claim on behalf of the child. In Texas, a parent or legal guardian may file a personal injury claim on behalf of their child. Another adult may be able to bring the action for the child as a “next friend.”
However, it’s important to note that any settlement or award obtained in the claim belongs to the child, not the parent or guardian or next friend, which means that the funds must be used for the child’s benefit and not for the parent or guardian’s personal use.
Hire an experienced child injury lawyer to help you with your child’s injury.
Does Hiring a Child Injury Lawyer Cost Us Anything Out of Pocket?
No- If our personal injury lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm accepts your case, the case is handled on a contingency fee basis.
Meaning the attorney fee will come out of the case proceeds. The firm advances expenses to pursue the case and collects expenses out of the settlement.
What is an Ad Litem in Texas?
An Ad litem in Texas is a person appointed by the court to represent the interests of someone unable to do so themselves, such as a child or incapacitated adult, in a legal proceeding.
The ad litem serves as the voice of the child. They are retained by the court to protect and are advocates for their best interests.
An Ad Litem can conduct investigations, make recommendations to the court, and present evidence on behalf of the child. The ad litem is typically an attorney.
What is a Friendly Lawsuit for a Minor in Texas?
A friendly lawsuit is a situation where a child’s personal injury claim has been settled, and the parties to the settlement file a lawsuit to have the settlement approved by the court.
Because a minor cannot legally sign a contract, the court’s approval binds the child and protects the defendant. With a friendly suit, the ad litem is appointed by the judge and ensures the settlement is in the child’s best interests.
What Happens to the Money?
Money recovered on behalf of a child in Texas will be subject to a court hearing concerning a settlement. Before that hearing related to the settlement’s fairness, a judge will appoint an “ad-litem” to advise the court on fairness and the child’s best interests.
When pursuing a personal injury claim for a child, it’s also essential to consider the types of damages available. In Texas, damages in personal injury cases may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
How Much Can We Get For Damages to Our Child?
The damages in a claim brought on behalf of a child may differ from those obtained by an adult. Lost wages are usually not a part of a child’s injury case. However, technically, lost earning capacity or lost wages can be sought on behalf of a child.
For example, the child mowed lawns to make money while recovering from an injury and could not cut lawns. In that instance, lost earnings could be sought. However, loss of future income due to the damages may be part of a personal injury lawsuit.
For example, a child may be entitled to damages for future medical expenses, as they may require ongoing medical treatment due to their injury. Pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental trauma, and disability are all open for compensation for children.
The amount of compensation will depend on the liability, severity of the injury, and available insurance coverage. Additionally, a child’s earning capacity may not be fully established during the injury. Still, damages for lost future earning potential may be available.
Personal Injury Settlement Options for Children
In Texas, two general avenues exist for keeping the money recovered for children’s injuries available to them after they become adults.
Deposit to the Registry of the Court
When their child turns 18, they can go to court and get their money out of the trust account for the court. The advantage of this avenue is that it is very safe. The disadvantage is that the interest rate is minimal. For smaller settlements, the compensation to the child is often placed into the court’s registry.
Alternatively, for larger settlements, an annuity or structured settlement is an insurance policy purchased for the benefit of the child to pay money to the child at designated periods after the child turns 18.
The benefits of this approach are that it is relatively safe, and the annuity can be structured in many ways that prevent an 18-year-old from suddenly having a large amount of cash they would typically blow.
Parents often structure the insurance payments to be monthly during college and more significant amounts at specified periods, like 25 or 30 years old.
In some child injury cases we have handled, the child will receive lifetime payments from the insurance policies.
Texas Statute of Limitations Exception for Children
It’s important to understand that the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Texas is two years from the date of the injury. Any claim must be filed within this time frame or will likely be barred.
However, there is an exception to this rule for minors. If a child is under 18 at the time of the injury to the child, the statute of limitations is tolled, or paused, until the child turns 18. Tolling means the child has until their 20th birthday to file a lawsuit for a personal injury.
While the statute of limitations may be extended for minors, it’s still important to act quickly in pursuing a claim. This is because evidence may become more difficult to gather as time passes, and witness memories may fade. Also, while the injury case limitations may be tolled, the medical bills paid by the parents will be subject to the general two-year limitations.
Additionally, the longer one waits to file a claim, the longer it may take to resolve the case and obtain compensation for the child. Do not delay. Call the best child injury lawyer near me.
Get Help from an Experienced Child Injury Lawyer in Houston
6711 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX, 77069