If a child (or anyone under the age of 18) is injured because of the negligence of another in Kansas, the courts will treat the claim differently for numerous reasons. First, a “Next Friend” will need to be appointed by the court to act on behalf of the minor. Usually, a parent will file a motion petitioning the court to appoint he or she as the “next friend,” who will actually be the child’s representative in any lawsuit and have some discretion as to case strategy and the authority to enter into a settlement.
Statute of Limitations
Under Kansas law, the statute of limitations to bring a cause of action based on a personal injury claim is two years. Most of the time (but there are exceptions), that two-year time limit starts from the time the accident causing the personal injury occurred.
For children, however, Kansas law allows minors in almost all personal injury claims to file a suit up until one-year after the minor’s 18th birthday. This exception for minors shows that Kansas has a special interest in protecting the best interest of children.
When a Minor Child is Injured by another Person
In car accidents alone, 116,000 children (ages 12 and younger) in the United States were injured in 2017 according to the CDC (Centers of Disease Control & Prevention).
Other common activities where children sustain injuries include:
- Bike accidents
- Dog attacks
- Defective Kid’s Products
- Unsecured Furniture
- Birth Injuries
When a minor child is injured by another person’s negligence, both the parents and the child may be entitled to recover damages.
The child can be compensated for:
- Pain and Suffering
- Permanent Disability
- Loss of earning capacity
- Actual medical expenses paid for by the child
- Physical therapy
- Funeral & burial costs
- Punitive Damages
The parents can be compensated for:
- Ongoing medical expenses for injured child
- Lost wages from caring for injured child
- Loss of child’s services as a minor
In Kansas, the special relationship between parent and child allows the parent to recover on behalf of the child. If the injured child requires long-term medical care, the parent(s) can recover 100% of the medical costs.
Handling The Personal Injury Claim
If your child has been personally injured by another person’s negligence, the attorneys at Foster Wallace will guide you through the entire process and ensure you receive the compensation you and your child deserve.
As mentioned above, under Kansas law, a minor does not have the legal capacity to settle his or her own injury disputes. The solution is a “Friendly Suit.” In a “Friendly Suit,” a representative of a minor files a lawsuit just so the parties [the different sides of the suit] can get in front of a judge so the court can determine whether the settlement is fair and in the best interest of the child. The court then legally binds the minor to the conditions of the settlement. The settlement in a “Friendly Suit” is for the benefit of the child, and one of the injured child’s parents or grandparents act as the child’s representative (or “next friend”).
When Minor Child Causes Injury or Property Damage
Just like minors can be injured, they can easily injure others as well. However, just because a minor child injures another or damages their property does not mean that the minor is automatically liable. Factors like age and mental capacity may make it impossible for the minor to have the necessary intent for liability of another’s injuries. But under Kansas law, even when the minor is not liable, the parents of the minor may be.
Parental Responsibility Laws
These laws, which are common in many states, hold a parent liable to third-parties for the injuries inflicted by their minor child (or for property damages caused by their minor child).
Kansas law will hold a parent liable for damages caused by a minor who “maliciously or willfully injures a person or damages property.” In most situations, the parents are liable for damages up to $5,000 unless the act of the minor is the result of parental neglect and then there is no dollar limit on the parents’ liability. (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 38-120).
The normal $5,000 cap on damages is limited to medical expenses only. Under K.S.A. § 38-120, the injured party cannot collect pain and suffering or other non-economic damages from the parents of the minor.