Officers from the Rocky Mount Police Department were called to the scene of a head-on accident on the morning of Thursday, October 26th that left one driver dead and a minor passenger in critical condition. Local sources indicate that the collision took place in the 3000th block of Sunset Avenue at about 7:31 a.m.
Is a minor allowed to file a personal injury claim in North Carolina?
Investigators were able to determine that a 2008 Mazda 6 was heading westbound along Sunset Avenue when the driver drifted across the center turn lane and crashed head-on into an oncoming 2015 Chevrolet Suburban.
The driver of the Mazda, an 18-year-old male, died at the scene. His 15-year-old female passenger was taken by ambulance to East Carolina University Health Medical Center in Greenville where she is listed in critical condition.
The driver of the Suburban was taken to Nash UNC Health Care in Rocky Mount with injuries believed to be non-life-threatening.
It is unclear if speed or intoxication were factors. The accident remains under police investigation at this time.
If you were injured in a head-on accident, the North Carolina car accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help you gather evidence, prove liability, and protect your right to financial compensation. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.
Personal Injury Claims for Injured Minors
In North Carolina, anyone under 18 is considered a minor. There are several important distinctions between a personal injury suit brought by an adult and one brought on behalf of a minor. If your child was injured in a car accident, there are some issues that could impact their claim.
Medical Bills for an Injured Minor
As with other personal injury claims, medical expenses are recoverable. However, any claims for expenses incurred while the victim is underage are owned by the parents or guardian. So, a parent may recover for the medical expenses of their 14-year-old, but once their child turns 18, any claim for medical expenses incurred from that point on must be made by the victim. For this reason, personal injury claims for minors are usually accompanied by a companion claim for the parents’ medical expenses.
Statute of Limitations for Injured Minors
Where North Carolina personal injury claims are concerned, the statute of limitations for an adult is typically three years from the day the accident occurred. When the victim is a minor, however, the statute is tolled until their 18th birthday. From there, they will have three years to file a lawsuit. It is essential to keep in mind that a parent’s claim for medical bills is still subject to the initial three-year statute. If they fail to bring a claim for medical costs during this timeframe, they will be unable to collect compensation regardless of the child’s age at the time of the accident.
Who is Eligible to File a Lawsuit on Behalf of an Injured Minor?
Minors are not permitted to file a lawsuit on their own. In cases involving minors, a lawsuit will have to be filed by either a guardian ad litem appointed by the court or the child’s parents. It sometimes is the case that there is a conflict between the minor and their parents, especially if the minor was a passenger in a car driven by a parent. In this situation, the parent might not be eligible to file a lawsuit on their child’s behalf.
Court Approval for Settlements for Minors
No settlement involving a minor is enforceable until it is approved by the court. If the settlement is not approved, the minor can void the agreement at a later date. Getting the court’s approval generally requires going in front of a judge so they can ensure the minor’s best interests are being represented.
North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers
Car accidents involving minors can be complex. Defense attorneys like to undervalue the impacts that serious injuries can have on children by claiming they are resilient and can’t experience the same level of pain and suffering as someone who is of age. This is simply not true. If your minor child was injured in a car accident, the experienced North Carolina car accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. Call us at (833) 997-1774 to schedule your free case review. We can give you the reliable advice you need to see a successful resolution to your North Carolina car accident case.