You never want to think about your child suffering an injury, but if it happens, it is important to be prepared. One way that you can be better prepared is by knowing what your child’s legal rights are in terms of how they can sue if they are injured. While there are many similarities between a personal injury claim for adults and for children, there are also some important differences that you should be aware of if you intend to start a claim for your child.
1. Can a child sue in their own name?
According to the Alberta Rules of Court, children under the age of 18 are not able to start a lawsuit on their own. Instead, someone over the age of 18 must bring the action on behalf of the child in question. This means that a parent or guardian is required to step-in and act as a “litigation representative” for the child.
2. How long does a child have to start a claim?
As an adult looking to start a personal injury claim, you only have two years from the date of the accident to start a claim and sue for your injuries (Limitations Act). However, for children under the age of 18, the limitation period is extended so that they have 2 years after the date on which they turn 18 to bring a claim.
3. Will my child receive the money directly?
Depending on the circumstances and the sum of the awarded money, the Public Trustee may get involved until your child turns 18.
4. Who is the Public Trustee?
While parents and guardians can make certain decisions for their children, for example, regarding education and medical care, they are not automatically entitled to deal with money for their children. This is where the Public Trustee comes in. The Public Trustee is appointed by the Alberta government to protect and manage the property and financial interests of minors.
5. When does the Public Trustee get involved?
When a child is awarded a sum under $25,000 for their personal injury claim, a parent or guardian may manage the funds for the child (although there are certain exceptions). In this case, the parent or guardian is responsible for managing the funds in the “best interest of the minor”.
When a child is awarded a sum over $25,000, the money goes to the Public Trustee who has a duty to act in the best interests of the child and is responsible for confirming the amount of the settlement. Once the Public Trustee has confirmed the settlement amount, they become responsible for managing those funds until the child turns 18, at which point the money is paid out to the child.
Overall, starting a personal injury claim for your child comes with some additional complexities that are not involved when a claim is started by an adult. Therefore, it is important to contact a personal injury lawyer who can assist you with bringing your child’s claim.