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Different Types of Damages in a Child Injury Case

Different Types of Damages in a Child Injury Case
Home Blog Personal Injury Different Types of Damages in a Child Injury Case

Key Takeaways:

  • Washington State law stipulates minor children can have personal injury claims filed on their behalf by a parent or guardian.
  • Washington’s legislation protects children and their injury settlements through the Minor’s Compromise law.
  • The physical and emotional impact of a severe injury can be devastating for a child.
  • Children can receive specific types of damages for their injuries, and the amount correlates with the severity of their injuries.

“Our tears became tears of grief, tears of future memories lost, and tears of hearts truly breaking. Our son — our football player, our baseball catcher, our wrestler — was paralyzed and would spend his life in a wheelchair.”

This story from The Heart of Every Home brought us to tears. If you and your child are going through similar traumas, you’re not alone. The state of Washington permits minors to seek compensation for injuries suffered due to someone else’s negligence.

Can A Minor File A Personal Injury Claim in Washington?

Washington State allows minor children to file a personal injury claim after sustaining an injury due to another party’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. A parent or guardian can pursue compensation from the at-fault party for the child’s injuries, but the state has laws to protect children who have adults signing settlement agreements on their behalf.

The Spokane and Moses Lake personal injury attorneys at McPartland Law Offices are here for you. If your child has suffered injury from an accident, contact our understanding, compassionate attorneys today at 509-495-1247. Our child injury lawyers are happy to provide you with a free consultation.

Understanding Minor’s Compromise Cases in Washington State

Parents and guardians in Washington State can sign personal injury settlements on their minor child’s behalf. Washington courts want to ensure the child’s rights are protected and that their parent or guardian’s decisions won’t adversely affect them post-settlement. To accomplish this, Washington State has a Minor’s Compromise law.

  • Settlements involving an injured child need court approval.
  • The Minor’s Compromise requires a court to approve settlements made both in and out of court.
  • Courts determine if a proposed settlement’s terms are acceptable for the minor both now and in the future.
  • In most cases, a court’s acceptance of a minor child’s settlement offer will likely prevent them from pursuing additional support once they reach adulthood.
  • The money from an award or settlement in a child injury case can only be used for the child’s benefit.

This legislation ensures that a responsible adult’s decision to finalize an agreement doesn’t negatively impact the child’s future.

Compensation in a Minor’s Compromise Case

As a part of the Minor’s Compromise legislation, a judge decides the appropriate time for minor children to receive settlement money.

  • Use of any monetary distributions is for the benefit of the child for current necessities, such as medical bills or other injury-related expenses.
  • Money not immediately used is under protection until the victim reaches the age of majority (18th birthday).
  • No one else must benefit from the distribution of compensation. The money is strictly used for the minor’s benefit.
  • Undistributed settlement funds go into an interest-bearing account or annuity.

Types of Damage in Child Injury Cases

People filing personal injury cases for their child in Washington State may pursue several different types of damages.

  • Compensatory damages provide money to the plaintiff for injury-specific losses.
    • Special damages are those easily calculable damages, such as medical bills, surgeries, and therapy.
    • General damages include difficult-to-quantify losses, such as pain, disfigurement, emotional anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Washington State law is specific about child injury cases and who can file. It’s a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable attorney to discuss the types of damages your child is eligible to receive.

The Emotional and Psychological Impact of Child Injuries

Child crying holding her head in her hands

Children often suffer physical injuries, but the emotional and psychological effects can persist long after the accident, impacting your child’s:

  • Friendships and social life
  • Appearance
  • Ability to engage in activities
  • Performance of basic daily tasks

Victims may also require levels of support their peers don’t need, which can draw unwanted attention. Many parents count their blessings their child survived the unthinkable, as the story “The Heart of Every Home” describes, but this doesn’t mean the road to recovery is easy.

Calculating Damages for Long-Term Care Needs

Calculating damages for a child’s long-term care needs can be difficult, depending upon the nature of the injury. For instance, after a child sustains a traumatic brain injury, it’s uncertain what kind of care they will need long-term or if they will be able to be self-supporting as an adult. It’s simply too soon to know.

Insurance companies and attorneys do not use a standard formula to estimate long-term needs when estimating damages for personal injury cases. The primary driving factor is the severity or long-lasting nature of a child’s injury.

Why Clients Choose McPartland Law Offices

Clients know they can trust McPartland Law Offices PLLC to handle their cases with compassion, understanding, and competence. Since 2012, we’ve worked tirelessly to protect accident victims, helping them get the compensation they need to care for themselves and their families.

Recent Client Testimonials

“My family and I had the opportunity to work with Bryce and his team during a very difficult time in our lives. The service and representation that McPartland Law Offices provided were absolutely exceptional. I was thoroughly impressed by their professionalism, knowledge, and ability to help us understand everything throughout the entire process. To say they left no stone unturned would be an understatement. I will be forever grateful for the compassion and dedication consistently demonstrated by Bryce and his team. I highly recommend McPartland Law Offices.”- Claudia V.

“I was in need of Bryce’s expert representation on a difficult case. He was outstanding and negotiated a very reasonable settlement for my permanent injuries. I don’t believe I would have been treated fairly without his representation and expertise.” Thanks, Bryce and team. – Lucy P.

“I had a great experience, and my lawyer and office staff treated me well and listened to everything I had to say. They did everything possible to get me what I deserved from the insurance company. I never had any doubt in them. They were very good at communicating with me, and I recommend them 100%. Thank you for making me feel valuable.” – Aurora P.

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Injury Cases in Washington

Child injury cases are complex, and clients often have many questions. Here, we provide answers.

What is the Role of a Guardian ad Litem in Legal Settlements for Minors?

Smiling family with child speaking to their attorney

In Washington, a court rule (SPR 98.16W) requires a Settlement Guardian ad Litem (SGAL) to evaluate a minor child’s settlement, assess its overall fairness, and develop a report to the court of that settlement. This report is developed at the insurance company’s expense. Many insurance companies will try to avoid this expense by settling low when claimants don’t have a lawyer to fight for them.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Child Injuries in Washington State?

Children are vulnerable humans who rely on others to act appropriately concerning their safety and well-being. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for children to suffer injuries from birth through their teen years. Children frequently suffer injuries:

  • During birth
  • At daycare
  • While traveling to and from school and while getting on and off buses
  • At school or after-school activities (e.g., sports)
  • In car accidents

At hospitals and clinics, children rely on physicians and their assistants to do appropriate testing, as they cannot often speak for themselves. Then, they rely on their personal injury lawyers to fight for their financial recovery.

How Do I Prove Negligence in a Child Injury Case?

To prove negligence, you must prove the following four points:

  1. The defendant owed a duty to the victim.
  2. The defendant breached this duty.
  3. This action caused the child’s injury.
  4. The victim suffered damages due to the defendant’s breach.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Settling a Minor’s Personal Injury Claim in Washington State?

Washington State stipulates a three-year statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. It’s vital to speak with a knowledgeable child injury attorney because children can also wait to file themselves at 18 years old. In some cases, it’s best to settle within three years so medical expenses can be paid. Still, depending on the nature of the injury, it may be in the child’s best interest to wait and get a more accurate estimate of the extent of their damages.

Who Receives the Minor’s Settlement in Washington State?

After a settlement amount is determined, the child should receive any compensation paid. Washington law has protections in place to safeguard the funds in a blocked account until the child turns 18. If money is needed, the court will approve where funds go.

Don’t Navigate This Challenging Time Alone

“Every child you encounter is a divine appointment.” – Wess Stafford

When parents see their children hurt, it’s a devastating experience, especially when life-altering and serious injuries occur. The caring attorneys at McPartland Law Offices PLLC are here for parents and guardians who need help navigating a complex legal system. Let us handle the legal aspects so you can focus on helping your child heal.

Contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation at 509-495-1247 or by filling out our online contact form.