Getting Compensation for Your Child’s Injuries
No one ever wants their child to suffer a serious injury. After such an accident, you may be scared, worried, and angry about what has happened to your child. If the injury occurred due to another person’s negligence, such as a reckless school bus driver or a dog owner, then you may be able to recover compensation for your child through a personal injury claim. However, in order to file a claim, you must first understand the unique legal regulations that govern child injury cases in Colorado.
Legal Representation for Your Child
Colorado state law does not allow children to file personal injury claims or accept personal injury settlements until they are 18 years old. While adults can make their own legal decisions, children are not considered mentally fit enough to approve legal agreements, which is why adult consent is required for all legal proceedings.
To get around this issue, Colorado courts can assign a legal representative to represent the child in a personal injury claim. This individual can be either parent, a grandparent, a legal guardian, or any other individual the court deems fit to fulfill this role. In most cases, one of the child’s parents can petition the court to be named the legal representative.
Deadlines and Extensions for Child Injury Claims
Typically, in order to get compensation for an injury, a plaintiff must file a personal injury claim or lawsuit with an insurance provider within a specific deadline. For adults, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury, while car accidents have a statute of limitations of three years.
If your case involves a government agency, such as a school district, you must submit notice to the agency within 180 days of the accident, then you have to wait 90 days to hear back from the agency. If the agency denies your claim before the 90 days, you can file a lawsuit against it.
With child injury claims, on the other hand, the statute of limitations can be extended. While the statute of limitations starts rolling on the date of the accident for adults, it does not begin until a child turns 18. In claims against private individuals or companies, a child has until the 20th birthday (21st in the case of car accidents) to file a claim or lawsuit. This does not apply to government tort claims.
Compensation for Child Injuries
With a standard personal injury claim, the goal is to recover compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries, including the financial cost of medical treatment and lost wages, as well as the physical and emotional toll (pain and suffering). Typically, in the case of a child, the main focus will be on recovering compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering damages.
However, parents can still recover lost wages if they had to take time off work to care for the child, or out-of-pocket expenses if they directly paid for any medical treatment. If you are working with an attorney on a contingency-fee basis, then the attorney’s fees will be added on top of the total value of your claim (30-40% on average).
Following a settlement agreement or jury verdict, the following parties will be paid from the claim:
- Medical providers, such as those who agreed to a medical lien
- The plaintiff’s attorneys
- The plaintiff
With child injury claims, however, the process has another step: court approval. Once a plaintiff agrees to a settlement or is awarded compensation via a jury verdict, both parties must go before a judge who will review the award. The judge will determine if the amount of compensation is enough to cover the child’s injuries, if it is fair to the child, and if the attorney’s fees are justified. If the child needs long-term care, then the judge may approve regular payments to the parent to cover the costs.
Upon approval from a judge, the claim will be distributed in the following order:
- Medical providers
- The plaintiff’s attorneys
- The child’s parents for out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages
- The child
Children do not get access to their compensation immediately. Instead, the court will place their award in a trust that will accrue interest until the child turns 18. On that birthday, the no-longer-a-child can access the rest of the funds.
Standing Up for Injured Children in Grand Junction
The complex laws surrounding child injury claims can be difficult to navigate on your own. Right now, you just want to give your child the chance to heal and to cover the costs of the injuries. Our Grand Junction personal injury attorneys at Peters & Nolan, LLC, know how frustrating the claims process can be, which is why we handle all of the heavy lifting for our clients every step of the way. We can sit down with you and your family in a free consultation and learn about how your child was injured. If you hire us to represent you, we will aggressively advocate for your child in a personal injury claim or trial. Call us at (970) 243-4357 to discuss your case today.
Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.
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