Bumps, scrapes, and even fractures are not uncommon injuries people may suffer in youth. However, when another person behaves recklessly, they can put children at risk of devastating harm.

When the carelessness or neglect of another causes harm to a child, the parents could pursue damages against the negligent party with help from a local injury attorney. A Maryland Heights child injury lawyer could help you hold the negligent parties accountable and ensure proper care for your child.

Who Recovers Damages When the Claimant is a Minor?

Under Missouri law, minors may not bring a claim seeking compensation for their personal injuries. Instead, a parent or guardian may bring a lawsuit on the child’s behalf. In many cases, the parents will join the suit, seeking damages on their own behalf.

Damages for the Child

Children are entitled to receive damages for expenses they might be responsible for paying once they reach the age of majority as well as for the losses they suffered since the injury and might suffer into the future. Examples of damages a severely injured child might claim include:

  • Future medical care
  • Long-term care expenses
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Rehabilitative therapies, durable medical equipment, and adaptive devices
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Diminished quality of life

A well-practiced attorney in Maryland Heights could bring in an expert witness to help quantify future losses the child faces due to their injuries.

Damages Available to Parents

Caring for an injured child can cause parents financial and emotional turmoil. Parents could seek damages for all the medical expenses they incurred and will incur to care for the child until their 18th birthday. If parents missed work as a result of the child’s injury, damages could include lost wages. Parents also could claim damages to compensate for their mental anguish, loss of the child’s companionship, and diminished quality of life.

Settlement on Behalf of a Child

Most personal injury lawsuits settle out of court. Negligent parties and their insurers typically prefer the certainty of a negotiated settlement to taking their chances in court, especially when the plaintiff is a child.

However, the state wants to ensure that settlements on behalf of children are fair to the child, so they cannot be finalized without a court’s oversight. Missouri Revised Statutes §507.184 requires a parent or guardian who wishes to settle a child’s claim to secure an appointment as the child’s “Next Friend.” The Next Friend then files a “Friendly Suit” against the settling party with the court.

The judge will explore the circumstances of the child’s injury and their current and ongoing needs at a hearing. Once satisfied that the agreement the parties reached is in the child’s best interest, the judge will approve the settlement.  If the settlement exceeds $10,000, the judge will usually appoint a conservator to ensure that it is used only for the child’s benefit. A local child injury attorney could explain this process further during a case consultation.

What is the Statute of Limitation for Minor Plaintiffs?

Missouri has a generous statute of limitations for personal injury cases. While the law allows injured adults five years from the date of their injury to file a lawsuit seeking damages, injured minors must file suit within five years of their 21st birthday.

Despite this lengthy deadline, it is important not to delay taking action. Over time, evidence of negligence could be lost or destroyed, witnesses’ memories can fade, and defendants might disappear or become “judgement-proof.” The sooner a skilled Maryland Heights attorney may begin building a child injury case, the stronger the case is likely to be.

Seek Guidance from a Maryland Heights Child Injury Attorney

A child suffering severe harm is a devastating experience for the entire family. Securing professional guidance through the process of seeking fair and appropriate compensation can help a family focus on what is most important–the child and their recovery.

A Maryland Heights child injury lawyer could help you prepare for your child’s future while holding negligent parties accountable. If your child has suffered an injury and you believe someone’s negligence is to blame, schedule a consultation to speak with a compassionate advocate.