Imagine that your child is seriously injured. How do you get the money to pay all those medical bills? What about your lost wages and emotional distress? Since a child cannot enter a contract to hire a lawyer or approve an insurance settlement in Alabama, you must step up and be the parent.
Who gets to file? In Alabama, married parents each have a right to file a lawsuit for a minor child. If the parents are divorced, the parent with legal custody has that right. If neither parent is available, a legal guardian may be appointed.
Alabama’s usual 2-year limit to file an accident lawsuit is different for children. The time limit does not begin until the child reaches 19-years old. So yes, you can conceivably pursue a case that is decades old. However, it has been my experience that the older the case, the more difficult it is to collect evidence and prove who caused the injury.
Proving who caused the injury is significant in Alabama. We have a rule called contributory negligence, which means that if you are even 1% at fault, you cannot collect anything for your injury. It doesn’t matter that the injured person is a child; insurance lawyers will spend a lot of time and effort to try and prove that 1% fault.
If the settlement is over $5,000, it most likely will have to be approved by the court. Using a judge to oversee the agreement is a way to protect the child and try to ensure that the settlement is fair. How the money is spent also has rules. These court supervised actions are meant to stop the money from being squandered or outright stolen from the child.
Getting money for an injured child is very different than collecting for an adult. A parent may have to do a lot of things that do not directly benefit him or her. But perhaps that is part of being a parent.
If you suffer a personal injury like an auto accident, or slip and fall, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet.
Also, join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30, right after the news. We will take your calls live.