Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Pennsylvania on Behalf of a Minor
Generally, people file lawsuits on their own behalf. In certain circumstances, a special relationship may provide for a right to sue on behalf of another person. A common example would be bringing a lawsuit as the parent or guardian of a child, or exerting your power of attorney.
Under Pennsylvania law, typically a parent or guardian handles the legal process on behalf of a minor. Pennsylvania statute 231 Pa. Code Rule 2027 specifically provides that when a minor is a party to a lawsuit, they shall be represented by a guardian who will supervise and control the action on their behalf. To bring a lawsuit on behalf of a minor, that minor must have both suffered an injury and maintain a legal right to compensation.
Minors have a right to compensation for injuries suffered due to the negligence or carelessness of others. This includes a right to recover from a careless property owner or a distracted driver who caused an accident and resulting injuries. Minors can recover damages for medical and hospital bills, pain and suffering, and other losses from the accident. Even very young children who have suffered injuries due to the negligence of another person in an automobile accident, or due to a defective product, have a right to legal compensation.
Pennsylvania law states that minors do not need representation by a guardian in a civil action before a magisterial district judge. Magisterial district judges only hear lawsuits in which plaintiffs seek $12,000 in damages or less. This amount is likely insufficient to compensate for the high medical expenses associated with serious or catastrophic injuries. In this situation, the child’s guardian or parents would manage the legal process, likely with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. This would allow them to file a claim for damages in excess of $12,000.
Personal injury lawsuits on behalf of minors often center on claims for compensation stemming from accidents. Accidental injuries account for millions of childhood injuries, with accidental falls being the most common cause of injury for children up to age 15. Depending on the child’s age, there are other situations that pose a risk of harm, such as being struck by an object, stung by an insect, or bitten by an animal. Burns and non-fatal drowning injuries are most common in young children under age four. As children reach their teenage years, they are at a higher risk of suffering injuries in a car accident.
A skilled attorney can help ensure that deadlines are met and that important documents and information are gathered. If your child has suffered injuries in an accident, they may have a right to recover compensation. At Needle Law, our child injury attorneys advocate for the interests of children harmed by negligent acts or defective products. We provide a free consultation and can be reached by calling 570-344-1266 or through our online form.