Typical car accidents are complicated enough on their own. When a minor is involved, things get even more complex.
People who are involved in car accidents generally expect to see an adult come out of the other car. What might surprise you is how often minors are involved in collisions. Additionally, you might get into an accident while having a child in your vehicle. In both cases, your legal situation will be slightly different than the standard personal injury lawsuit framework.
What’s the Same
Car accidents with minors are very similar to those with adults. First, fault is assessed based on negligence. Next, the party with less liability has the option to pursue a lawsuit against that other driver. Doing so will lead to compensation for expenses like medical bills, lost wages, emotional suffering, and more.
Which Side of the Equation?
One factor that informs how a case will be different is which side the minor is on. The first option is getting injured by a liable party. The other is a teen driver causing injury through negligent actions. We will discuss both sides in the following sections.
Statute of Limitations
If a minor injures you in an accident, your statute of limitations stays the same. If, instead, a minor is the one that is hurt, this law changes. What happens is that the statute of limitations starts at 21 years old, rather than right away. The purpose of this adjustment is allowing a person to reach a mature age before being forced to make an adult decision.
The Role of Parents
Parents play the following roles in accidents involving minors.
Pursuing Compensation – If the minor is the one that is injured, a parent can seek compensation on behalf of that child. When that person is very young, they almost always do so. If the minor is close to being an adult, a parent might decide to wait and let their child do as they please a few years later.
Defense – As you might imagine, minors do not have much ability to defend themselves from legal action. Instead, their parents usually take up this task by hiring a lawyer, helping with decision making, and taking on any financial burden.
The goal of having different laws for minors is to make the process more friendly towards them. One more way in which they do so is settlement approval. What this term means is that a judge must approve any settlement that a parent comes to. While most adults have their children’s best interest in mind, some are either bad actors or merely incompetent. This law protects minors from parents that are malicious or do not understand what is best for their child.
Typical car accidents are complicated enough on their own. When a minor is involved, things get even more complex. While the differing legal structure of these cases is relatively straightforward, it is always best to speak with an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney if you or your child have been involved in a car accident.