How Do Virginia Courts Handle Injuries to Minors and Teenagers?

Every personal injury case has the potential to be challenging, but when minors are involved, the chances for complications are much higher. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we have handled personal injury cases for plaintiffs of all ages. The involvement of a minor does indeed make a case more complex, but our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to handle these kinds of cases successfully. 

Are personal injury cases involving minors held to a different standard?

If you would like to understand more about how a case involving a minor is different from one involving an adult, schedule a free consultation with one of our Virginia Beach personal injury lawyers by calling (833) 997-1774 or filling out the form on our website.

In the meantime, some of the questions we are frequently asked by our clients have been answered below.

Are Cases Involving Minors Held to a Different Statute of Limitations?

bike accidents

Yes, they are. In a standard personal injury case, for instance, a negligence-based accident between two adults, Virginia imposes a two-year statute of limitations that begins on the day of the accident. However, if a minor was involved in the accident, the statute of limitations will not begin running until the minor reaches their 18th birthday. In other words, if an 8-year-old was injured in an accident, the statute for bringing a lawsuit would not start running until they turned 18. They would then have two years to file. 

Can a Lawsuit be Filed for a Minor Before They Turn 18?

Again, yes. Although Virginia law does not permit anyone under the age of 18 to file a suit on their own, it does permit a next friend to file a lawsuit on their behalf. A next friend is anyone 18 or older deemed appropriate by the court. A next friend is usually the minor’s mom, dad, or legally appointed guardian.  

What is a Guardian ad Litem and Do I Need One?

Anytime someone under the age of 18 is involved in a case, a guardian ad litem is required. A guardian ad litem is someone who acts as the minor’s representative throughout the litigation process. Usually, the guardian ad litem is a parent. If, however, the parent was involved in the accident, and was partially or totally at fault, then a guardian ad litem will most likely be appointed by the court system. The purpose of a guardian ad litem is to ensure that someone has the child’s best interests in mind.

Why Does the Settlement Need to Be Approved by the Court?

When an adult is injured during an accident, they and the party responsible for their injuries are permitted to reach a settlement agreement without the involvement of the court. When a minor is involved, this is usually not the case. An overwhelming majority of cases involving victims who are younger than 18 are required to have the court approve any settlement. The minor’s lawyer and their guardian ad litem settlement will have to present the proposed settlement to a judge, who will then sign off on it if they decide that the offer is fair and reasonable.

Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp 

Regardless of what type of personal injury lawsuit you wish to file, and whether a minor is or is not involved, the Virginia Beach personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have decades of experience in handling this kind of litigation. The rules governing the statute of limitations for claims by minors for medical malpractice or wrongful death are different than those for personal injury. We work diligently to make sure that our clients receive the maximum amount of financial compensation available under the law. To schedule your free consultation, fill out our online contact form or give us a call at (833) 997-1774.

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