It is particularly devastating when a child sustains a preventable injury. Beyond simply the additional tragedy that occurs when a child is injured, there are also additional legal considerations. I have represented many Iowa children, injured because of someone else's negligence and have found that it is critical to thoroughly understand the law applicable to pursuing a claim and obtaining a recovery on behalf of a child.
One of the first things to understand is that a child cannot bring a lawsuit on behalf of themselves; the lawsuit must be filed by an adult. Oftentimes, the lawsuit is filed by the child's parents, but when that is not possible, the court will appoint a conservator to pursue the child's claim. Parents of injured children have their own claims, called loss of consortium, that are often brought in the same lawsuit as the child's claim.
Additionally, if the adult bringing the claim on behalf of the child settles the child's claim for more than $25,000, the court must approve the settlement and in part how the settlement money will be spent. It is critical for children who are receiving public benefits like Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps or rental assistance to have their settlement structured in a way that allows the child and their family to retain most benefits. This is also an important consideration if the child has a mental disability and may need public benefits in the future.
I have found that money obtained on behalf of injured children has often been life changing for those children. For some of my young clients, it has provided the means for a safe and healthy home; for others, it has allowed them to obtain additional services not otherwise available to the child. Pursuing claims on behalf of injured children is absolutely one of the most important things that I do as a lawyer.