It can be challenging enough for an adult to recover compensation following a personal injury accident, but recovering compensation on behalf of a child is even more of an intricate process. Yet children are just as susceptible to injuries in an accident, and (depending on the age and medical history of the child) may be more prone to suffering serious or catastrophic injuries. Therefore, recovering compensation for an injured child is just as important – if not more important – as recovering compensation for an injured adult.
Aside from a greater susceptibility to injury, there are other aspects about a child injury lawsuit of which parents or guardians should be aware:
- The need for a “next friend” to file and pursue the case: Due to their status as minors, children cannot file lawsuits in their own names or be awarded damages for their injuries. Instead, a “next friend” – usually a parent or legal guardian – must file the lawsuit for a child. This “next friend” stands in the place of the child in court, makes decisions about the lawsuit, and receives any damages awarded to the child to use on behalf of the child.
- The importance of medical treatment: Children may not be able to articulate what hurts or how they feel following a personal injury accident. A child may say he or she feels “sleepy” or “okay, not great” when he or she has actually suffered a traumatic brain injury and needs immediate medical treatment. It is incumbent upon parents and guardians to ensure children are evaluated after a personal injury and that they follow through with all treatment recommendations.
- Lifetime costs for catastrophic injuries: Obtaining full compensation for a child who has suffered permanently disabling injuries means obtaining compensation (1) for lost income the child might have been expected to earn over his or her lifetime; (2) lifetime treatment and therapy costs that can be reasonably anticipated; and (3) the lost income experienced by any family caretakers who must leave their careers in order to provide care to the disabled child (along with the “standard” damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, etc.).
- Punitive damages: Depending on the facts of the case, parents or guardians pursuing damages on behalf of children should not neglect to evaluate whether punitive damages are warranted. Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant who recklessly or intentionally caused harm to the child. While punitive damages are not always available in every case, they should be sought when appropriate.
Attorney Jan Hoen of Hampton Injury Law is an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney who can help parents and guardians whose children have been injured by the careless or reckless acts of another person. His knowledge and experience means that parents and guardians can have confidence that their child’s personal injury case will be handled professionally yet zealously. Contact Hampton Injury Law today to discuss your case. Call (757) 838-1138 or contact the firm online.