Parents of minors are no strangers to accidents. It’s different, however, when someone else’s carelessness causes injury to your child. Auto accidents alone were responsible for 41% of child deaths in Kentucky in 2020, according to the Department of Public Health. Other common categories of negligence that cause injuries to children include medical malpractice, product defects, and daycare injuries. When children suffer injury because of someone else’s negligence, they have the same right to compensation as adults. There are some differences in the way Kentucky courts treat injury settlements involving minors, however. This is a short guide about those issues and Kentucky personal injury settlements in general.
Bringing a Personal Injury Claim for a Minor
Parents or guardians can bring lawsuits against negligent parties in their own name on behalf of their children. In Kentucky, this person is called the “next friend.” They can also hire lawyers to represent their children. Kentucky courts must approve injury settlements involving minors. Once the parties agree to a settlement, a judge will analyze it to ensure that it is in the child’s best interests.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Calculated?
There’s no easy way to calculate Kentucky personal injury settlements because no two cases are the same. There are a lot of factors that go into the value of a settlement.
Property damage is the actual value of the property that was damaged or destroyed.
Settlements will account for the amount of medical expenses you’ve already paid for treatments. Medical expenses also include prescriptions, transportation fees, therapy, and accommodations like installed ramps. If treatments are likely to continue after the settlement date, you’ll receive an estimated amount for future medical expenses as well. Usually, an expert will have to calculate future expenses.
If the minor had a job and worked before the injury, they may recover the amount of their lost wages. If they’ve suffered a disabling injury that would prevent them from working, they could recover an estimated amount of lost future wages. This could potentially be a very large number, depending on the severity of your child’s injuries. An injury lawyer can offer more advice about how to measure damages based on the loss of potential future wages. You would likely need to use an economic expert to calculate this value.
Non-economic damages are intangible costs. They include pain and suffering as well as emotional trauma. Settlements for more serious accidents can have a higher value for factors like extreme mental anguish (i.e., depression or PTSD) and permanent injuries like scarring or amputations. Catastrophic accidents like plane crashes can also justify greater non-economic damages.
How Long Do Injury Settlements Take?
Injured people are entitled to an efficient settlement. In Kentucky, people have one year to bring most personal injury claims. For auto accidents and property damage, they have two years to bring an insurance claim. For minors, those time limits do not begin to run until they turn 18. But once you initiate a claim, insurance companies must act in good faith to resolve claims without unreasonable delay. For simple claims, the time frame for resolution is about a month—but the higher the complexity of the case, the longer it can take to resolve. Severe accidents and bodily injury claims might take more time and effort to complete discovery and negotiate a fair settlement. Of course, poor communications between parties can also slow down the process.
What Happens to the Minor’s Settlement Money?
Kentucky courts place settlement money for minors in a blocked bank account. The “next friend” is usually the guardian or administrator of the settlement. The court does allow the guardian to make withdrawals before the child turns 18. The person withdrawing must prove that the money is for the child’s well-being. Once the child turns 18, they will receive their settlement.
Kentucky law does allow an exception under Kentucky Revised Statute 387.280. Someone that has custody of a minor can receive the minor’s settlement if it’s $10,000 or less. They must spend it on behalf of the child, however.
What Is My Liability as a Parent If My Child Is the Defendant?
Generally, parents and guardians are liable for the judgments their children incur. In cases where minors cause property damage, the property owner must name the parent or guardian as a party to the lawsuit. However, the parent is only liable for up to $2,500 for a first offense or a maximum amount of $10,000 for multiple offenses. The property owner can then go after the minor in a criminal suit for any amount of loss over what the parent paid. A court can also demand that a parent or guardian pay any attorneys’ fees.
Parents or guardians must sign for the responsibility of minors applying for drivers’ licenses and permits. They are responsible for the minor’s negligence while driving. Anyone who lends a car to a minor is also liable for any damage the minor causes while they are driving.
Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC Can Help You and Your Child with Your Legal Needs
If your child was injured, Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC can help you bring a claim for compensation on their behalf. We understand that dealing with the legal system is overwhelming. It is even scarier when your child is involved. Seth Gladstein is an experienced trial attorney and treats every case with personal care and attention. We can handle all of your injury needs. Our cases include auto accidents, medical malpractice, birth injuries, and wrongful death. Contact Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, to set up a consultation about your child’s claim.