Can I File a Car Crash Claim on Behalf of My Child?
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Apr 26, 2022 in Car Accidents
Parents go to great extremes to keep their children safe. Yet sometimes, despite your best efforts, events can happen that are out of your control. What can you do, for instance, if your child is injured in a car crash? Is it possible to file a damages claim on his or her behalf?
If your child suffered harm because of someone else’s negligent options, you do not have to try to navigate the legal process on your own. Our dedicated vehicle crash lawyers in Silver Spring want you to be able to focus on your child’s health. Take advantage of our free, no-obligation consultation to get more answers to your legal questions.
Call 24/7 to schedule your free case review. (888) 213-8140
Can You File a Car Crash Claim on Behalf of Your Minor Child?
When a minor child is not yet an adult, the parents or legal guardians can sue for damages on his or her behalf. If negligence is the cause of your minor child’s injury, there may be two separate causes of legal action:
- The minor child has a legal claim because of the injuries he or she sustained
- The parents or legal guardian may bring a claim for loss of services and for any medical costs incurred for treating the minor child’s injuries.
These two claims are often combined. However, an attorney can help to advise you on whether these two actions should be filed separately or together.
Who Can Bring the Minor Child Crash Claim?
If one of the child’s parents has sole custody, only he or she can bring a claim for that child. However, that only applies for the first year after the crash. After that first year, other eligible parties can bring a claim.
For instance, the non-custodial parent may opt to file a claim on behalf of his or her minor child. If an eligible person intends to do this, however, he or she must first notify the custodial parent. If the parents are married, or both share custody of their child, either parent may file an injury claim on behalf of their child.
What is a Minor Child in the Eyes of the Law?
In Maryland, a minor child is an individual who has not reached the legal age of an adult. In Maryland, a child becomes an adult when he or she turns 18 years. More specifically, and for the sake of a claim, a child becomes an adult at midnight on the day before he or she was born.
For instance, say your child was born on May 5th at 1:00 p.m. Under the law, your child becomes an adult on May 4th at midnight in the year he or she turns 18, not at 1:00 p.m. that day.
Are Claims to Recover a Minor Child’s Medical Bills Handled Differently?
In Maryland, parents are responsible for the care of their minor children. In prior legal cases, the law has interpreted this definition to include medical bills. If eligible, parents may have the right to file a claim to recover their child’s current medical bills, along with their future medical costs.
However, the ability for a parent to recover these damages before a minor child turns 18 is not an absolute right. Additionally, it is vital that parents are aware of the statute of limitations for recovering these costs.
Car crash injury claims in Maryland must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. If you file on behalf of your minor child, that same statute of limitations applies. If you miss that date, you are barred from filing a claim to recover medical costs on behalf of your child. However, your child may still be able to file his or her own claim once he or she becomes a legal adult.
What if a Parent is Unable to File a Claim for a Minor Child’s Medical Bills?
If this happens, the minor child may be named as the responsible party. However, the claim will not proceed until after the minor child turns 18. In that situation, the statute of limitations is tolled (paused) until that minor child’s 18th birthday.
However long you may believe you have to file a claim on behalf of your child, we urge you not to delay calling an attorney. Even if you end up waiting to file until your child becomes a legal adult, an attorney can explain what needs to happen before then.
If you miss filing by the statute of limitations, the law bars you from recovering any of your damages.
Who Has the Final Say to Accept or Decline a Settlement Offer?
When filing a claim on behalf of your child, a settlement agreement may only be accepted under the following conditions:
- If you are the child’s only living parent, you can agree to an acceptable offer on your own
- If not the only living parent, you must also get the approval of the other parent. At the very least, you must satisfy the court that you made reasonable attempts to notify the other parent.
- In a claim where both parents have passed and you are pursuing the claim on behalf of the child, you must get the court’s approval to accept any settlement offer.
What Happens to Compensation Awarded in a Minor Child’s Crash Claim?
If your child is awarded compensation, there is still a question of what happens to those funds. Who controls the money and how can it be used?
If your minor child receives less than $5,000, the awarded funds can be deposited into a parent or legal guardian’s account. This happens regardless of whether the award was from a settlement or verdict, however, these funds must be used to benefit the child.
Any award of $5,000 or more must go into a trust fund; the child must be named as the beneficiary. The money in the trust fund gets held until the child reaches his or her 18th birthday. At that time, he or she has full and exclusive access to those funds.
Our Trusted Law Firm is Ready to Help
Minor child crash claims are complicated, so seeking legal help may benefit your ability to recover maximum compensation. An experienced attorney can also help you to avoid missing deadlines and making mistakes that could damage your claim.
At Goldberg Finnegan, we have helped injury victims for decades in all kinds of claims. We understand the law, and we are dedicated to protecting your child’s interests.
If your minor child was injured in a crash, we encourage you to contact our law firm today. There is no risk in meeting with us in a free consultation. If you have a case and we represent you, there is also nothing to pay up front. We do not get paid unless you do.
Call Goldberg Finnegan today to learn more. (888) 213-8140