Seeking Compensation for Child and Birth Injuries in Florida
Florida personal injury laws protect children under age 18 just as they do adults by providing the right to seek compensation against the person or entity responsible for causing harm. However, these cases are slightly different with respect to one key factor: because minors are not adults in the eyes of the law, they cannot, on their own, file a lawsuit and pursue monetary damages for their losses. Instead, Florida allows children to file suit and seek damages through their legal guardian (e.g., their parents) or a court-appointed guardian.
If your child suffered injuries, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer to handle the legal process on behalf of your family. Still, an overview can help you learn more about your rights and those of your child in such a situation.
How Injury Claims Work When the Victim is a Minor: Because a child does not have the capacity to file a lawsuit under Florida law, someone must stand in his or her shoes to pursue legal remedies in a personal injury case. The law allows a “guardian” to act on behalf of a minor, which is usually the child’s parents. Therefore, you—the parents—can file a claim with an insurance company and/or initiate litigation. However, there are certain restrictions on this default rule:
- You don’t need to be officially appointed by a Florida court as guardian over your child if you’re able to resolve the child’s claim for $15,000 or less.
- When the negotiated settlement exceeds $15,000, you must petition the court and be approved as legal guardian of your child. In addition, the judge must review and approve the settlement to ensure the arrangement is in your child’s best interests.
- If you cannot reach a settlement to resolve your child’s claim, you can file a lawsuit on your child’s behalf, and your next step is to initiate litigation through a civil lawsuit. In such a case, you must also be officially appointed as guardian by a court – regardless of the amount of damage you request or ultimately recover.
Note that you don’t have to deal with guardianship issues if you’re seeking compensation to reimburse your own out-of-pocket costs. You are the party damaged when you pay medical bills or lose wages because you took time off to care for your child, so you can seek amounts for your own losses.
Types of Claims Where Parents Act on the Child’s Behalf: The statute on settlement of claims applies to any personal injury case where your child is hurt through someone else’s negligence. Examples include:
- Car or truck accidents;
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents;
- Slip and fall incidents, and other bodily harm your child suffers because of dangerous conditions on property;
- Injuries because of a defective product;
- Medical malpractice; and
- Many others.
Speak to Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers for Free
To learn more about your rights as the parent of an injured child, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to set up a no-cost case assessment at our offices in Miami or Fort Myers. One of our Florida personal injury attorneys will review your circumstances and decide the best way to proceed in your case.