Can a Parent Sue on Behalf of Their Child for an Injury?

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When your child has been injured in an accident, they cannot file a lawsuit on their behalf until they turn 18. However, you must begin the legal process now while you still have the evidence to prove your claims.

South Carolina law allows parents to file a claim on behalf of their child, albeit subject to several protections. As a parent, you want to ensure that you are doing right by your child. The best way to advocate for your child’s rights in the strongest possible manner is to hire a lawyer to represent them.

Call the Rock Hill personal injury attorneys at Schiller & Hamilton to discuss your case involving an injury to your child.

Child Injuries That May Lead to Settlement

Personal injuries that children suffer tend to be more serious, given the smaller size of their developing bodies and brains. Your child may need to live a lifetime with the impacts of the physical injuries that they suffered when they were younger.

The ways that children can be injured vary from adults because of their active lifestyle and where they spend their time. Most often, parents can file a claim when children are injured in motor vehicle accidents.

Other accidents that can injure children include:

  • Playground accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Bicycle accidents

Parents may also sue when someone has intentionally harmed their child, such as injuries from physical or sexual abuse.

Special Factors Impacting Child Injury Settlements

Parents should look at both the short and long term when settling a case on behalf of their child.

Seriously injured children will have interim needs before they turn 18, such as:

  • Care to help them with the activities of daily life
  • Special education costs
  • Adaptive medical equipment
  • Summer camps and other activities for children with injuries

You may also have to think about the far-reaching impacts of an accident because your child may not be able to live a normal life. Your child may still be dealing with the physical effects of their injury for the rest of their life, and they may still need medical care and not be able to work.

While it may be difficult to see so far into the future, it is what you have to do because you only get one chance to settle a personal injury case on behalf of your child.

How Old Does Someone Have to Be to Sue in South Carolina?

Children are generally not allowed to file lawsuits on their own when they are minors. There are two options for them to obtain financial compensation after a personal injury:

  • Their parents can’t file a lawsuit on their behalf
  • The child can file a lawsuit for themselves once they turn 18 (the statute of limitations begins to run again when the child turns 18)

The parents are the ones who often end up waging the legal battle on behalf of their child. As a parent, you owe it to your child to get the highest possible compensation for them. There are certain safeguards built into the process to protect your children. Still, you can anticipate a lengthy legal battle, so you can do what is right for your child.

There are some special procedures in place to protect your child once you have agreed to a settlement. The first protection is that the court would need to approve settlements above a certain dollar figure to ensure that it is fair and in your child’s best interest.

Below are the rules for court approval:

  • If the settlement is above $25,000, a circuit court judge must personally approve the settlement.
  • If the settlement amount is between $10,000 and $24,999, and the child does not have a conservator, either the South Carolina Circuit Court or the Probate Court must approve the settlement.
  • If the settlement is between $2,500 to $9,999, then the court has the right to appoint a conservator on behalf of the child.

What Happens After the Settlement Money Is Received?

The settlement money is for your child. If it is to be used, there are strict controls, and the use must be for the child’s benefit. Under South Carolina law, there are two primary ways that settlement money could be used and managed.

The court may appoint a conservator whose responsibility it is to manage and use the money on behalf of the child. Conservators are subject to very strict rules. First, they must post a bond to assume the role. Then, they can only use the money with prior approval from the court. A conservator generally places the money in some type of interest-bearing account or very safe investment. The goal is to preserve the money for the child when they turn 18 while funding their necessary interim needs.

Alternatively, the parents could agree to a structured settlement on behalf of the child. Then, the court would not need to appoint a conservator to manage the money.

A structured settlement pays out money at certain points in time. Parents can manage how and when their child gets the money over time, instead of the child getting one large lump sum when they turn 18. If that is the case, the child may spend the money that they need to care for them later in life.

Our injury attorneys can discuss what arrangement may be in your child’s best interest. We do our best to help you decide on accepting the settlement money on behalf of your child.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in South Carolina About Your Child’s Injury Case

When you are trying to do right for your injured child, hiring an experienced attorney is the best first step that you can take. The team at Schiller & Hamilton believes in pulling out every stop necessary to get the highest possible compensation for our clients. We do everything in our power to keep the insurance company from putting your interests beneath theirs.

The first step in the legal process is to speak to one of our attorneys during a free initial consultation. You can schedule an appointment today by sending us a message online or by calling us today at 843-379-5006.

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