Texas Personal Injury Cases & Minors: A Guide for Parents & Legal GuardiansMarch 14, 2019
In Texas, personal injury cases for minors work differently than claims for adults. That’s because Texas law does not grant minors the legal authority to file their claim alone.
Revealing more about these claims, this guide explains how personal injury cases for minors work in Texas so parents and guardians know how to seek justice whenever their child is harmed by another’s negligence.
If you need answers specific to your situation now, simply contact a Houston personal injury lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm. We’re ready to discuss your situation, explain your legal options, and vigorously advocate your rights.
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4 Key Facts about Texas Personal Injury Cases for Minors: What Parents & Guardians MUST Know
This guide is broken down into the four main facts that parents and guardians must know when it comes to the differences between personal injury claims for minors versus adults.
Fact 1: A ‘Next Friend’ Will Need to Initiate & Stand in for a Minor’s Personal Injury Claim.
Since Texas law doesn’t permit minors to file their own cases, a legal adult will need to start these claims on behalf of injured minors. This adult, referred to as the minor’s ‘next friend,’ can be a:
- Parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or another relative
- Legal guardian.
Once the case is underway, the next friend will stand in for the minor and make decisions on his or her behalf moving forward. Specifically, this means that the next friend will do things like (but not limited to):
- Sitting for depositions and/or testifying in court
- Appearing in court, mediation, and/or arbitration proceedings when needed
- Making decisions regarding how the claim will be handled.
The only role the minor might have as his or her case proceeds is sitting for a deposition or testifying in court IF (s)he is old enough or mature enough to understand and comply with the witness oath.
Fact 2: Minors’ Claims Can Be Divided Into Two Parts.
Another key difference in minors’ personal injury cases in Texas is the fact that these cases can be split into two distinct parts, based on the nature of the damages. These two elements of the case include:
- Claims for losses sustained by the parent or guardian – These are focused on compensating the adult for any financial losses incurred in treating the minor’s injuries (covering past and future medical bills), as well as replacing any damaged property.
- Claims for losses and suffering sustained by the minor – These are aimed at compensating the minor for the harm (s)he’s suffered, potentially covering both physical and psychological injuries.
Fact 3: A Minor Settlement Hearing Will Occur If a Settlement Is Reached.
If the minor’s claim is settled (i.e., resolved out of court), this hearing will occur to ensure that the settlement:
- Truly promotes the minor’s best interests
- Is fully understood the parties that have agreed to it
- Is properly protected until the minor may be able to manage the funds on his or her own
These hearings, which can be referred to as friendly lawsuits, will also involve the court appointment of a guardian ad litem, who is usually an attorney responsible for ensuring that:
- The settlement is fair, based on the facts of the case.
- The lawyer representing the minor properly negotiated the settlement.
- Anything else that should have been done, like negotiating down any medical liens, was completed on the minor’s behalf.
Fact 4: Compensation for Minors’ Personal Injury Claims Will Be Held in a Court-Managed Trust Fund
Again, protecting the minor’s best interests is the intent here. When financial recoveries for these cases are placed and held in court-managed trust funds:
- The funds will accrue interest while they’re being managed by the court.
- When the minor turns 18 or has been emancipated, (s)he will gain access to the funds (unless it can be proved that releasing the funds earlier is necessary to serve the minor’s best interests).
Has Your Child Been Harmed by Another’s Negligence? The Amaro Law Firm Can Help
If your child has been harmed by any form of negligence, an experienced Houston personal injury attorney at the Amaro Law Firm can help you and your child seek the justice and financial recovery you likely deserve.
Call (713) 352-7975 or Email Us for your FREE Consultation
While we know that compensation can reverse serious injuries and losses, we also know that the recoveries from these cases can help victims and families rebuild their lives. Our attorneys are ready to tirelessly advocate your child’s rights and work relentlessly to set his or her claim up for any possible recovery possible.
The Amaro Law Firm’s record of outstanding advocacy and success in all types of personal injury cases has earned us a 5-star rating on Google and Facebook, glowing testimonials from former clients, and a 10 rating on Avvo.