There is not much more difficult for a parent than dealing with an injury to their child. All of us with children probably went to the emergency room when an unfortunate accident occurred.
Children get hurt, but it is tough to accept when some third party, through their negligence, injures your child. We have been protecting children’s rights after an injury accident for over three decades. This article covers the basics of a personal injury claim of a minor in Texas.
Personal injury claims of children under the age of 18 in Texas are handled differently from personal injury cases of an adult. Because a minor does not have the legal capacity to sue or be sued, the personal injury litigation comes in the form of an adult “standing in” for the injured minor as “next friend.” Usually, this is one or more of the injured child’s parents. However, anyone may stand in as a “next friend” for an injured child if a parent cannot do so.
If a minor’s injury claim is settled, the defendant’s counsel usually requires that a hearing take place in front of the judge in the court where the lawsuit is filed. The court will appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the minor. That lawyer is called an “ad litem” and advises the judge whether the settlement terms are in the child’s best interest. The defendant customarily pays the cost of the attorney to represent the minor’s interests at the hearing.
An “ad litem” is a lawyer picked by the judge and is in addition to the attorney who handled the case on behalf of the injured minor and the family. A court hearing is where the judge approves the decisions made on behalf of the child. This includes the settlement and the determination of how the funds will be kept for the minor.
Everyone should already agree on the decisions, and the entire hearing will thus only take a few minutes. Testimony will be taken so there is a complete record of the case. Your attorney will review the questions before the hearing so that you are prepared. Once the judge approves the settlement, all parties will sign the release document.
When a minor’s personal injury claim is funded and usually takes one of two forms. Either the money is placed in the registry of the court to be paid to the minor when the minor turns 18, or the settlement funds are used to purchase an insurance policy called an annuity which can be paid out at various times after the child becomes of age.
Parents can have substantial input on whether the money is placed in the register of the court or an annuity insurance policy is purchased. Annuities benefit from being more flexible and payments and do not usually wholly fund the money when the minor turns 18.
Based on our three decades of experience as a daycare negligence lawyers, minors are usually not very good at shepherding their money when they are still teenagers. For this reason, many people choose the annuity route that allows a more extended payout after the children become more experienced.
Some annuities fund college and provide monthly payments during the college years. Others can be used to pay when the child gets older such as when the child is 30 or even 40 years old. For larger settlements, it is not uncommon that the benefits become lifetime benefits at specific stages of life.
What About Parents?
One area of concern for many parents is their individual damages when their child is injured (missed work etc.)
Some courts in Texas see the obligation to provide for a child as a parent’s legal responsibility. Many courts are reluctant to reimburse the parents for out-of-pocket medical expenses from a child’s settlement. But liens such as a hospital lien usually must be paid out of any settlement proceeds. However, how the money is handled is up to the judge in the case.
In short, the settlement funds for an injured minor in Texas will generally belong to the minor and not the parent, and the court makes a great effort to protect the child’s interest.
Speak with a Houston Child Injury Lawyer
Suppose your child has been seriously injured in an accident caused by another, such as a car accident, daycare injury, or other accident. In that case, you should consider contacting an experienced child injury lawyer as soon as possible after the event.
It is also essential to document the injuries during the recovery process by photographs or video. Early investigation can sometimes pay dividends when the conduct of a third party is in question regarding causing an accident.
Our daycare accident attorneys have protected the rights of injured children for over 35 years. Let us help your family!
Call (281) 587-1111. Never a fee unless we win your case.