Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Personal Injury Lawsuits Involving on a Minor’s Behalf

Posted Saturday, April 8, 2017 by Chris Thayer

A junior high school north of Salt Lake City, Utah, had an interesting exercise for teaching students the dangers of alcohol impairment. But in 2014, the exercise itself proved dangerous for a 13-year-old girl.

Kylie Nielsen was a student at Centennial Junior High School when she participated in the alcohol impairment exercise. She and her classmates ran around the the classroom while wearing “drunk goggles,” which slow reaction time, distort vision, alter depth perception, reduce peripheral vision and simulate other effects of alcohol impairment.

Kylie was running around the room when she got her foot stuck in a desk, breaking it in multiple places. The injury required two surgeries and resulted in one of her legs being shorter than the other. Sadly, Kylie had just qualified for an all-star track meet and was unable to compete after the accident. In fact, she quit running track all together and switched to playing golf.

The Seattle Times reported that Kylie’s school district agreed to a $100,000 settlement with the family, including $13,000 in medical expenses, $26,000 in legal fees and $61,000 put into a trust account that Kylie can access when she turns 18.

Who Can File a Personal Injury Lawsuit on a Minor’s Behalf?

While the legal process for a minor’s personal injury claim is similar to that for an adult’s claim, there are some differences. For example, Washington law does not permit minors – children under the age of 18 – to file lawsuits on their own behalf. The lawsuit must be filed by a guardian ad litem, someone appointed by the court to represent the best interests of the child.

The first step is petitioning the court to appoint a suitable guardian. The court will often appoint the child’s parents, but there are some situations where the parent is not the best option. For example, if the child’s injury was caused by the parent’s negligence, then there is a conflict of interest that could prevent the parent from acting in the child’s best interest. Once the court appoints a guardian, he or she can file a lawsuit on the minor’s behalf.

Different Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims Involving Minors

Generally there is a three-year statute of limitations in which to file a personal injury lawsuit. Adults have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. But Washington law delays the limitations period for children. The clock doesn’t start running until the child’s 18th birthday, which means the child has until his or her 21st birthday to file a claim.

Of course, the lawsuit may be filed while the claimant is still a minor (hence the need for a guardian ad litem). Once the case has been resolved the damages owed to the child may, like Kylie’s, be placed into a trust account until a specified point in time.

Contact Us Today

If your child has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, your child has the right to compensation. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Pivotal Law Group today for a free consultation.