Children involved in a car accident, whether as passengers or pedestrians, are entitled to equal rights as adults. They, too, can claim personal injury compensation for injuries suffered. Although money cannot make up for the pain and suffering of a child in a car accident, the compensation can significantly impact a child’s life during treatment, recovery, and even their future.
However, when a claimant is under 18, Florida courts have in place special mandates that provide some degree of protection to the welfare and interests of the child.
The additional procedural requirements in resolving a personal injury involving a minor can be complex to navigate. However, some important information below describes the process and what parents and guardians need to know when resolving a child injury case.
JustCallMoe in Florida serves car accident victims of all ages. Reach out to a car accident attorney in Orlando with experience handling claims like yours.
What Determines the Value of a Car Accident Settlement Awarded to Children?
It is hard to tell how much you can expect when seeking compensation for a child in a car accident. Several factors determine the exact amount to be awarded.
The severity of your child’s injuries
All injuries are not equal. Some require long-term medical care, like physical therapy, and some have short-term medical needs. The more serious the injury, the higher the likelihood your settlement value will increase. These include injuries like nerve damage, broken bones, spinal cord trauma, etc.
Length of your child’s recovery period
The longer it takes for your child to recover fully, the more you can demand in damages. For this, you will have to keep track and record any relevant information such as time missed from school, frequency of doctor appointments, etc.
Loss of the child’s quality of life
This describes a situation where your child can no longer live a ‘normal’ life due to complications or impairments arising from the accident.
The state of your child’s mental health
A car accident involving children can leave severe psychological scars that could contribute to a post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression. Therefore, you will have to factor the cost of dealing with these mental challenges into your claim.
Cost of the financial damages incurred as a result
Just as with any accident, there is bound to be some financial loss suffered after an accident involving a minor. Some monetary damages that could increase your claim’s value include medical bills, loss of wages, loss of future earning capacity, and property damage expenses.
How Does Florida Handle Car Accident Settlements For Minors?
How is a child’s settlement case different from a regular case?
In Florida, a personal injury claim for a child involved in a car accident is entitled to equal compensation as an adult. You can seek damages for medical expenses, loss of ability to earn an income, pain, and suffering, and in some cases, you can claim punitive damages. However, there are a few key differences.
First, minors can only file their injury claim once they reach the age of majority, usually 18 years. Alternatively, a parent or legal guardian can make the claim on their behalf. Another difference is the procedural requirements for personal injury claims involving minors that ensure the claim is for the child’s benefit, not the parents or guardians.
Do You Need Court Approval for Child Injury Settlements in Florida?
Under most circumstances, the law in Florida requires the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of a child in the settlement. The guardian ad litem is tasked with reviewing the case file, including medical records and any relevant evidence, to ensure that the settlement is in the child’s best interests.
The law in Florida exists to prevent the money from going directly to parents or guardians. Several different methods are used to protect a child’s settlement funds.
In this arrangement, the funds are placed into a form of an annuity, earning interest over the period in which the child is still a minor. The money is invested and kept with life insurance or another financial or trust company. Once the child is of age, periodic payments are made to him or her, to help ensure that any future medical expenses or needs from the injury are met. These payments are usually tax-free and the most secure way to ensure a minor receive their settlement.
Special needs trusts and pooled trusts
In this method, the funds are placed into a trust with certain restrictions to regulate the ability of the parents or guardians to use the funds.
In some cases, the court will provide settlement funds to the child’s parent and guardian to allow them to cover essential expenses, such as medical bills, until the child is an adult.
What Does the Court Need to Approve for a Car Accident Settlement for a Child?
For the settlement of a child injury case to be approved, you must fill out and submit a form with all the details that will allow the court to decide if the settlement is in the interest of the minor. This will include details of the accident. You will also have to provide a detailed breakdown of every dollar to be disbursed from the child’s settlement.
The court will demand proof of the present condition resulting from the accident to determine if the awarded settlement is fair. You will also have to describe the injuries suffered and the treatment received.
Therefore, documents like medical records containing diagnosis and prognosis of the damage and present condition are essential. The court also needs to know if the child has completely recovered from the accident’s injuries or if they suffered permanent damage.
We Can Help a Child Car Accident Victim
Car accident claims involving minors require special attention. Consider contacting an attorney online with experience handling these claims to help you protect your child’s legal rights. At JustCallMoe, we will closely review and investigate the circumstances around your case to ensure you get just compensation.
FAQs About Car Accident Cases Involving Minors
Who can file/settle a claim involving injury to a minor in Florida?
In Florida, minors can seek damages for personal injury claims through their legal guardians or wait until they reach the age of 18 to pursue the claim in some circumstances.
Can a parent/guardian use the money received from a settlement?
No. You are not allowed to spend or receive the money for your child’s settlement unless a court order states otherwise. In addition, the funds are only accessible to the child once they reach 18 years old.
How much time do you have to pursue a car accident case involving a child?
The statute of limitation for child injuries in Florida is four years from the date of injury. A special provision may allow families of injured minors more time to pursue legal action in limited circumstances.