No parent wants to think of their child being hurt in a car crash. Unfortunately, reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that tens of thousands of children are injured in motor vehicle crashes each year. If the worst happens and your child is injured in a traffic accident, they likely have the right to compensation. A child’s personal injury case will differ from an adult’s, however.
Filing a Personal Injury Case on Behalf of a Child
The first difference is an obvious one: A child cannot negotiate on their own behalf or even find an attorney to represent them. The parent or legal guardian will have to do this for the child.
Like an adult’s injury case, the matter can be taken to court in the event that a settlement agreement cannot be reached. Anyone under the age of 18 cannot file a lawsuit, so again, you will need to do it for them as the parent or legal guardian.
The child will have the option to file suit on their own behalf once they turn 18. Per Illinois law, the two-year statute of limitations will go into effect on their 18th birthday, which means they will have until their 20th birthday to file suit.
Negotiating a Settlement for an Injured Child
Should you decide to settle, you will need to get court approval first. A hearing will take place even if all parties agree to the settlement. This ensures that the settlement is for the benefit of the injured child, not the parents.
What Happens to Children’s Compensation?
Typically, insurance settlements for minors are set aside in a protected account. Once the child turns 18, they will have full access to their compensation, plus interest. Should your child need some of the compensation on an immediate basis, such as to pay for certain medical costs, you will need to get court approval to have these funds released.
If you are worried about your child’s personal injury compensation working against them, like disqualifying them for certain benefits or financial aid, you may find it beneficial to set up a personal injury trust. These are created on the child’s behalf and, again, the child will have access to the money once they turn 18. A trust will need multiple trustees, one of whom must be a solicitor. Prior to the child’s 18th birthday, all trustees must come to an agreement before any money is taken out of the trust.
At The Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm, our Charleston attorneys are highly skilled in litigating car crash claims involving children. We won’t let the party that caused harm to your child get away without having to answer for it. Call us at (217) 394-5885 or reach us online for a free consultation.