This month, in Ireland, a woman brought a personal injury claim before the country’s High Court on behalf of her child, who was catastrophically injured in a motor vehicle accident in February 2016. The child was just three and a half months old at the time of the collision and suffered ‘multiple skull fractures,’ according to the Irish Times. She spent many months in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities before being released. She will require significant long-term care.
In the following article, we will examine what happens when a child is injured in an accident in Ontario, what legal option the child and its parents have, and how an experienced personal injury lawyer can help.
Who Qualifies As A Minor In Ontario And What Are Their Legal Options?
Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor in Ontario. Minors who have been injured as a result of the negligence of another party are not able to personally launch an injury claim. However, they are able to seek financial compensation for their damages with the help of a “litigation guardian.”
A litigation guardian is an adult who represents a minor during personal injury litigation. Most often, this role is filled by an injured minor’s parent. In situations where neither parent is able or available to fill this role, another adult may step in. In order to be confirmed as a litigation guardian, the adult must file an affidavit stating that they consent to make decisions on the child’s behalf, that they carry no adverse interest to the child, and that they are willing to personally pay any costs awarded against them or the child.
If, during the course of the litigation, the child turns 18, they will be able to request to continue the litigation without the guidance of their litigation guardian.
Once a litigation guardian has been assigned, the child has equal rights to any other plaintiff in Ontario, with additional protections. For example, most personal injury victims have two years from the time of their accident to file a claim; for injured children, the two-year limitation period doesn’t start until the moment they turn 18.
Additionally, the Ontario courts must approve any and all settlement offers entered into on a child’s behalf; until the courts have certified that the offer is in the child’s best interest, it will not be legally binding.
Also, compensation awarded to a child in a personal injury lawsuit receives certain legal protections. Funds payable to a child are sometimes “paid into the Court” and held by the accountant of the Superior Court of Justice, to be paid out when the child turns 18. In some cases, such as when the child requires funding for ongoing rehabilitation treatment, the settlement money may be released earlier.
What Are Some Common Causes Of Childhood Injuries?
Many of the main causes of childhood injuries also affect adults. Hundreds of children are injured each year in car accidents, for example. Many are also injured in snowmobile, ATV, and boating mishaps.
Others are more child specific. Injuries incurred in organized sports leagues, for example, fall into this category, as do playground injuries, schoolyard injuries, and injuries caused by childcare negligence. When a school or other establishment agrees to assume responsibility for your child, they are expected to provide a certain standard of care. When this standard is breached through negligence or omission, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help your child recover compensation.
What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured?
If your child is injured, the first thing you should do is check on their condition and, if necessary, contact emergency responders. Your next steps will depend on the specific circumstances of the injury. If it occurred during a car accident, for example, you should seek out the insurance and contact information of all other individuals involved and get the names and numbers of all witnesses.
If your child has been injured at a community swimming pool, you should also secure contact information from as many witnesses as possible – this is a sound practice in any circumstance.
Once you have checked your child’s wellbeing and collected witness contact information, your next step might be to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer, preferably with experience helping families access compensation for children’s injuries.
Contact Will Davidson LLP
If any member of your family, including your child, has been injured in an accident caused by the negligence or omission of another party, contact Will Davidson LLP today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our team will review your claim, outline your legal options, and explain as thoroughly as possible what to expect on the road to medical and legal recovery. At Will Davidson LLP, we have represented seriously injured accident victims from across Ontario for decades. Reach out today to learn how we can help.