Has Your Child Been Negligently Injured? Read This
Injuries caused by negligence don’t just happen to adults. Unfortunately, sometimes children are injured by the negligent actions of others. However, minors in Florida cannot bring their own personal injury claim. As such, in the event a minor sustains injuries in an accident, the minor’s legal guardian (usually the parent or grandparent) must bring the claim on behalf of the injured child.
The focus of any claim, no matter the age of the plaintiff, is on what the injured party is suffering. This is defined as the burden of medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, and the impact the injury will have on the injured party’s future. A claim brought on behalf of a childis not focused on the emotional or financial damages of the parents or guardians.
Florida law provides safeguards to protect money recovered for minors as a result of a personal injury. These safeguards are designed to ensure that any damages awarded to the minor is used only in the best interest of the child, and not for the benefit of the legal guardian or parents.
In certain situations, the Court has to approve the amount and terms of any settlement. These are:
– If a lawsuit has been filed for a child’s claim, the Court must approve the settlement amount and terms.Florida Statute Sections 744.301(2) & 744.387(3)(a)
– If a lawsuit was not filed, the Court must approve the settlement amount and terms only if the gross settlement amount is greater than $15,000.00. Florida Statute Section 744.387(3)
The Court will require that a legal guardianship be created, so that the Court alone may determine how the settlement money can be used until the minor reaches the age of majority.
– If the gross settlement amount is $15,000.00 or less, the Court will not require a legal guardianship.
– If the net settlement exceeds $15,000.00, the Court will require a legal guardianship.
If a legal guardianship is required by the Court, the legal guardian will need the Court’s approval to administer the minor’s money. In making the decision to approve or deny the legal guardian’s request to use the child’s money, the Court is supposed to consider what is in the best interest of the child. Once the minor reaches the age of majority, the (former) minor will then be able to use the money how he or she sees fit.
Many parents have asked me the following: What about me? My child’s injury has affected me – do I have right to recover anything for what I am going through?
The answer is: If your child has suffered a “significant injury resulting in the child’s permanenttotal disability,” then you can bring a claim for the loss of “companionship, society, love, affection, and solace” of the injured child. This type of claim is called a filial consortium claim. United States v. Dempsey 635 So. 2d 961 (1994)
Florida is one of the few states in the United States that recognizes a filial consortium claim. It is important to note that the ability to bring this type of claim is limited. If your child is negligently injured but not to the extent that he or she is permanently disabled, you do not have standing to bring a claim on behalf of yourself for your child’s injury.
Claims involving minors require special care. Please consider contacting a personal injury attorney with experience handling the claims of minors to guide you through the process of protecting your child’s legal rights. The attorneys at Fasig & Brooks are experienced in personal injury claims and can help guide you through this difficult time.