Adults aren’t the only ones who get injured in car or motorcycle accidents. Tragically, children often get injured in these accidents as well. Sometimes those injuries are severe and terrifying.
Children are eligible for compensation, too.
For the most part, the process of making a personal injury claim for a child is similar to making one for an adult…right down to having to fight the insurance company at every step.
Parents file on behalf of the child as their “litigation representative.” The claim will have to be handled according to Alberta’s Minor Property Act. In most cases this means any money not paid directly to medical providers will go to the Public Trustee, to be held until the child reaches the age of 18. Parents are not permitted to use those funds to meet their own needs, or even the needs of the household. However, parents may ask the trustee to release some funds to meet the needs of the child, especially if those needs are related to helping the child navigate their injuries.
Children often sustain painful injuries when involved in a car accident. These can include traumatic head injuries, thoracic injuries, spinal injuries, fractures, whiplash, facial injuries, dental injuries, and PTSD.
Alberta is a contributory negligence province. In a normal adult personal injury case, each party is assigned a percentage of fault. It could be 99%/1%, or 80%/20%, or any other mix of percentages.
Children may sometimes be assigned a portion of the negligence, something that shocks many of our clients. Yet negligence is handled a little differently. Adults are held to the “reasonable person standard” which asks what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
When children are involved, the courts ask what another child of the same age, intelligence, and experience might reasonably have done. Obviously the older the child the more likely the court is to hold them to adult-like standards.
The court may also have the option to use the adult standard if the child was engaged in an adult activity at the time. For example, if your minor child was driving the car at the time of the accident then the courts may evaluate that accident exactly the same way they’d do it for an adult driver. This is just one example of the many complications that can arise in a personal injury case involving children.
What if the parent is the at-fault driver?
Alberta law allows children to sue their parents for their injuries. Usually this simply means that the parent’s insurance company pays for their injuries. A legal representative for the child makes a claim on behalf of the child.
It is a strange and emotional situation, but it’s one that’s in the best interests of the child. It ensures the insurance company will pay money that will help heal the child’s injuries and perhaps support the child in the future if their career prospects have been irrevocably harmed by the accident.
Children may be awarded all the normal damages in a personal injury case. This includes medical bills as well as pain and suffering awards. While children don’t normally have a lost wages claim in some catastrophic injury cases they do have a claim for the loss of future income.
It is very challenging to put a dollar figure on that amount. It is nearly impossible to say what profession that child might have eventually held or what salary they might have made. It may be too early to tell whether the child will eventually be able to do some work at a reduced capacity or whether the child can do no work at all. Often the specific dollar figure will boil down to the opinions of experts and the negotiation skill of the lawyers involved. It’s an important calculation, however, as your child may end up relying on those funds to maintain their independence later.
Sadly many accidents result in the death of the child. In addition to paying for funeral expenses, a wrongful death claim would pay an $82,000 bereavement benefit to the parents, to be divided equally between each parent. You may also be able to make a pain and suffering claim.
We know that money cannot return your child to you. Yet we also know that the loss of a child can require many changes. You and your spouse may need counseling to get through the loss. You may also need to move out of your home as the old home may have too many memories. The bereavement benefit is meant to help you face and navigate these challenges.
Why Merchant Law?
“Me and my kid both suffered severe injuries due to a terrible event. We waited awhile before calling a few lawyers since we were unfamiliar with the procedure and chose Mr. Aujila at Merchant Law. Their work and kind advice assisted us in getting our lives back on track. We were handled with dignity and allowed to express our feelings about the situation. Merchant Law’s staff exceeded our expectations in every way. Merchant Law gave excellent advice and service, and I have no concerns recommending them.” -Andre C. Rolland
Here at Merchant Law, we’ve helped thousands of Albertans navigate serious personal injury claims just like yours. We’ve helped adults and children alike recover billions of dollars after their car or motorcycle accidents.
We can help you too.
Choose us because most of our lawyers have more than twenty years of experience. Choose us because our team is caring and responsive. Choose us because we’re known for being some of Alberta’s toughest litigators and negotiators. Choose us because we will not hesitate to fight for you. We’re diligent, focused, and work hard to uncover every bit of evidence we can use to support your personal injury claims, or your child’s.