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Negligence Claims Involving Injuries to Children in North Carolina


Some of the most challenging cases any North Carolina personal injury attorney will ever handle are those involving injured children. The sad truth is that car accidents, dog bites, child care negligence, and other serious incidents can have life altering consequences for a young child. They can leave a child disabled and unable to enjoy life in the way they did before the incident. This can have a tremendous emotional impact on not just the child but also his or her family. The lawyers at Maginnis Law have experience fighting for the rights of injured kids and their parents against insurance companies that refuse to treat them fairly. If you would like to discuss your case with an experienced attorney, visit our contact page or send us an email at info@maginnislaw.com to schedule a free consultation. You can also view some of our results in cases involving injuries to children at our case results page.

Some of the issues that come up in North Carolina child injury cases, include:

Parental Claim v. Claim of Minor

When a minor is injured, there will typically be two separate legal claims belong to two separate claimants. The first claim belongs to the parent and is usually limited to recovery of medical expenses incurred and paid because of the injury sustained by the child. The second claim is the minor’s. The types of damages recoverable by the minor will include any future medical expense beyond the age of 18, compensation for physical pain and mental suffering, and compensation for any permanent injury, permanent scarring, and/or loss of use of part of the body.

Appointment of Guardian ad Litem and Motions for Approval of Minor Settlement

While some child injury negligence claims can be settled prior to the filing of a lawsuit, the insurance company will typically want “court approval” for any significant settlement. To obtain “court approval,” a lawsuit must be filed. If a settlement has already been reached, this is referred to as a “friendly suit.” Although it’s referred to as “friendly,” the process is still generally the same as though a settlement had not been reached. A complaint and summons must be filed with the Superior Court Clerk of Court.

Notably, in North Carolina, a minor can only file a lawsuit through a “Guardian ad Litem.” This Guardian can many times simply be one of the minor’s parent, but, in some cases, it may be recommended that the “Guardian ad Litem” be an attorney. This could be the case when, for example, there is limited insurance coverage such that the parent’s medical claim will compete with the child’s claim or when the claim involves very serious to catastrophic injuries. Either way, a petition will have to be filed seeking appointment of the Guardian. After the Guardian is appointed, if a settlement is reached, a Motion for Approval of Minor Settlement will be filed and a hearing will be set. A judge will hear the details of the case, including the terms of the settlement, and determine whether acceptance of the settlement is in the best interest of the child. If the Judge approves the settlement, that will conclude the case. If he or she does not approve the settlement, the claim will need to continue to be litigated.

Structured Settlements

If a lawsuit or claim on behalf of a minor results in a settlement, there are two common ways for the settlement funds to be paid. The first option is that the funds will be deposited into an account with the Clerk of Court in the county where the case is pending. The funds typically cannot be accessed until the child reached age 18. This is usually an acceptable option if the settlement is not for a large amount or the child is close to age 18. However, if the converse is true – the settlement is for a substantial sum and/or the child is young – a structured settlement may be a better option. In a structured settlement, the settlement funds can be used to purchase an annuity plan that pays the child certain amounts at certain times. Using a structured settlement will usually result in the funds earning more interest than they would with the Clerk of Court. Additionally, if the structured settlement is set up properly, the interest is not taxable.

Free Consultation and Contingency Fee

The Raleigh law firm of Maginnis Law regularly represents injured children in negligence cases throughout the Courtrooms of North Carolina. We offer free consultations to parents of children hurt because of the negligence of others. If we are able to help with your child’s case, we will agree to do so a contingency fee basis – meaning that you or your child owe no attorneys’ fees unless we recover a monetary settlement or verdict. Our firm handles cases involving injuries to children from the mountains to the coast, including cases in Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Wilmington, Fayetteville, New Bern, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Greensboro. To schedule a free consult, visit our contact page or email T. Shawn Howard, our lead personal injury attorney.

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