Getting into a car accident is stressful enough. However, when your kids are in the car it’s extra hard. How does a car accident settlement for a child work? It’s devastating when your kids are injured. As parents, we will do our best to make sure our children get the medical care and counseling they need. It’s vital to fully recover from their physical and psychological injuries. Once the initial treatment plan is in place, parents may wonder how to pursue a car accident settlement for their children’s long-term medical needs, lost future wages and disabilities caused by the accident.
If your child was seriously injured in a car crash, seek the help of an experienced car accident attorney in your area who can discuss your child’s legal rights and fight for a fair settlement on their behalf.
What You Need to Know About Car Accident Settlement for a Child in WA State
The role of the “next friend” in filing child car accident claims
A child (or minor) is any person younger than the age of 18. Because a minor cannot legally file an injury claim for themselves, a person called a “next friend” will file the claim on their behalf. In most cases, the child’s parent or legal guardian acts as the “next friend”. There is no legal proceeding required to assign this role.
Statute of limitations for child injuries
A statute of limitations sets the longest period of time after an event within which legal proceedings may be brought. In most Washington State accident cases, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident. An exception is made for children who are injured in an accident. Children have three years from the date they turn 18 to file a personal injury lawsuit.
What damages may be recovered in a car accident settlement for a child?
If your child was injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, they may be entitled to damages that compensate for:
- Hospital and other medical bills
- Physical therapy and other rehabilitation care
- Continuing medical bills
- Loss of ability to earn income in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In some cases, parents may also be awarded compensation for the financial losses they suffered as a result of their child’s new medical needs.
Washington State child car accident settlements must be approved by the court
In order to protect the interests of the injured child whose parents seek compensation on their behalf, Washington law requires that any settlement reached for injuries suffered by a child be approved by the court, even if no lawsuit is initiated. The way this works is that after the parties reach a settlement, a hearing is held so the court can approve or deny it.
A judge will hear testimony in order to determine if the settlement is reasonable and fair. In order to reach a decision, the judge may ask the parents, legal guardian or other relevant parties questions about the full list of the child’s injuries as well as their current health status, their projected future medical and rehabilitation expenses, and their current abilities and disabilities caused by the accident.
When the court approves the settlement, the next friend must sign off on it. The child is then bound by the settlement.
How are child injury settlements distributed?
The court will decide how and when funds will be paid to the injured party. In some cases, the settlement will be scheduled to be paid in full once the minor turns 18. In other cases, settlements are set up to pay out a portion of the damages each year for a certain number of years from the date of the child’s 18th birthday. In this type of payout structure, the court will put the funds in a trust.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!