Unfortunately, no one is immune to injury when the people around them are careless. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 97,000 children age 12 or younger were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2018. When a child is injured, a few special rules apply to their personal injury cases.
Statutes of limitation put a time limit from the date an injury occurs to the time a lawsuit must be filed. In most cases, a lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the date of injury. However, children can wait longer to file lawsuits. Tolling is the legal term for “pausing” the statute of limitations for a certain amount of time. In many cases, a child’s statute of limitations does not begin running until the child reaches their 18th birthday, meaning the child must file a lawsuit by their 20th birthday. Claims for medical expenses, however, must be brought within 2 years of the date of injury, even for children. Claims for pain and suffering, on the other hand, are tolled until the child’s 18th birthday.
If your child incurred medical expenses due to someone else’s negligence, do not wait until your child’s 18th birthday to make a claim or hire an attorney because there may not be time to file a lawsuit for medical expenses by then.
But, if your child was hurt in an accident more than 2 years ago and they have not yet reached their 20th birthday, he or she still may have a claim for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is often the most valuable component of a personal injury claim, so even if your child’s statute of limitations for medical expenses has passed, he or she still may be able to recover a significant amount of money.
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress to Parents
Most of the time in Georgia, people can only recover for emotional distress when some sort of “impact” causes them a physical injury. However, there is an exception when a parent and child are in an accident, and both suffer a physical impact that causes them a bodily injury. In those cases, parents may recover not only for the emotional distress caused by their own injuries but also for the emotional distress of seeing their child suffer.
If you and your child are both injured in an accident, keep in mind that you may be able to recover for your own emotional distress caused by seeing your child suffer.
Court Approval for Settlements
When adults settle cases, courts usually do not get involved because settlements are contracts between adults of sound mind. However, when a child’s case settles for more than $15,000.00, a court needs to approve that settlement before it is finalized. Before a Georgia court finalizes a $15,000.00+ settlement for a child, a conservator must be appointed to “best serve the interests” of the child. A conservator is a person appointed by a judge to manage the child’s finances. Sometimes parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles serve as conservators. When a family member is not available to fill the role, a county conservator can be appointed instead. The downside of using a county conservator is that they are allowed to take income from the child’s settlement for the work they do as the conservator.
An experienced attorney can advise you on how to recover the most money for your child’s injury and how to keep as much of it as possible for the child. Rafi Law Firm has achieved significant financial results on behalf its clients. If your child has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, call Rafi Law Firm as soon as possible at 404-800-1156 for a free consultation.