Can a Minor Sue for Compensation from an Accident By Themselves?
No one wants to think about their children getting injured in an accident. But it happens. And when it does, the parents naturally want to ensure that their child gets the care they deserve – as well as a way to pay for it.
It’s natural to assume that the parents will file the claim on the minor’s behalf. But there are circumstances where that might not be possible. So, that raises the question: can a minor file on their own behalf through a representative?
Exploring What the Law Says
The law – Rule 17(c) of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure – says that a minor, through a representative (i.e. a lawyer), can pursue claims after an accident on their own behalf. The claim can include compensation for medical bills, physical therapy, and other losses – even if they are incurred by the child’s parents.
Of course, in law not everything is cut and dried. It took two decisions from the Alabama Supreme Court to affirm that an unemancipated minor can pursue medical expenses and other costs.
Under the Court’s decision, a parent can waive his/her right to recover medical expenses in favor of his/her child. This prevents the parent from recovering expenses in a separate suit, though, since the parent and child both receiving damages would be double recovery.
Why Does This Matter?
There are situations in which a minor needs to pursue compensation on their own accord, with their representative (or through a parent as something in law called a ‘next friend.’)
For example, the parents may no longer have custody of the minor. The courts have rightfully realized that a minor should not be prevented from being made whole just because he or she may not have parents to recover damages on their behalf.
In this case, the legally-appointed representative or guardian for the minor – such as a guardian ad litem – could pursue compensation on the child’s behalf.
You do not have to be emancipated to pursue legal action as a minor. Minors also do not have to have their parents file a claim. A minor can – through appropriate representation – file a claim on their own behalf.
Wettermark Keith has a roster of experienced personal injury attorneys who have represented families from all walks of life in serious injury cases. Our commitment to caring for you and your family is built on a strong foundation of compassion. Contact our team to learn how you can get justice for your case.