Personal injury claims help those injured recover damages when someone else is liable for the accident that caused their injuries.
Although most people are able to file a claim on their own – with help from an attorney in many cases – there are circumstances where legal issues or mental incapacity prevent it. This may be true for both minors and elders, which would necessitate filing a claim on their behalf.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Minor
Minors cannot enter into a contract. Therefore, when a child is seriously injured and compensation is necessary to cover expenses and losses, a parent (or legal guardian) must file the personal injury case. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Colorado is two years. If the injuries stem from a motor vehicle accident, it is three years.
For minors (and those deemed mentally incompetent which might also apply to an elder), the statute of limitations is tolled for noneconomic losses. In most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations for a minor wouldn’t actually begin until he/she turns 18 years old.
Another important issue when filing a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor is when a settlement is awarded. Generally the monies will go to the minor on his/her eighteenth birthday. However, parents would be entitled to recover damages for expenses paid out of their own pockets, such as medical bills. They must do so within the normal statute of limitations.
Probate court must approve a personal injury settlement for a minor. The main reason is to ensure the award is in the minor’s best interest. The court must also establish the terms for payment.
For instance, the court will consider if the settlement appropriately addresses future medical treatment that may be required. Or the nature of the minor’s injury may impact what it considers a reasonable settlement.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of an Elder
As mentioned, the statute of limitations is tolled if the injured person is found incompetent. This can sometimes be the case with older adults, whose age or health conditions may impact their ability to make sound and reasonable judgments.
Therefore, the court often appoints a guardian (which may or may not be the elder’s child) to oversee the claim. Let’s say an elder was a passenger in a car and sustained serious injuries when the driver of another vehicle ran a red light. If the injured person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the court may decide he/she is not competent to seek legal action. It may appoint someone else to give him or her that responsibility.
As with a minor, the court will keep the elder’s best interests in mind; not only in the total amount of damages but in the distribution of those monies.
Get in Touch with Legal Help Today
Are you pursuing legal action on behalf of a child or elderly individual? Talk to D.J. Banovitz about being appointed a guardian to manage the claim and pursue compensation on your loved one’s behalf. Call us at 303-300-5060 to get started.