The parents of a minor child injured in a pedestrian accident can pursue a claim or lawsuit on their behalf to recover compensation from the responsible party.
If your child is hit by a car, bicycle, or any sort of vehicle, your immediate and paramount concern is his or her physical wellbeing, which is only natural. However, after your child is out of imminent physical danger, there are some other things you need to do to protect his or her rights:
- Try to find out how the event unfolded—what the weather and road conditions were like, who else was involved and if they seemed intoxicated or impaired, and exactly what happened to your child.
- Make sure your child’s medical treatment is carefully documented. Even if it appears to be a minor accident and your child not seriously harmed, still get your child medical attention so any injuries can be diagnosed or prevented from worsening. This will also ensure there is a record of the child’s injuries that can be used to prosecute a future civil claim.
- Finally, contact an experienced pedestrian accident attorney who can initiate the many tasks required in preparation for a lawsuit including investigation, analysis, and correspondence with the applicable insurers and other parties. This will free you to focus your time and energy on taking care of your child’s needs.
How Long do I Have to Bring Suit on my Child’s Behalf?
Normally, Illinois gives victims of personal injury two years to bring suit against the wrongdoer for damages caused by a pedestrian or any other accident. When the victim is a child, on the other hand, the answer is a little more complicated. Like other states, Illinois affords injured minors more time to file because children are not in a strong position to assert their rights following an injury. To compensate for this fact, plaintiffs who were injured as minors are given until they turn 20 to bring a legal action, even if it is more than two years after the injury. With all the work that needs to be done to prepare a lawsuit, this is still not necessarily an abundance of time.
Can my Child be Held Responsible for the Pedestrian Accident?
Illinois has adopted a modified comparative fault approach, where negligence on the part of the injured is factored into their ability to sue and what amount of recovery they receive. However, state law generally holds that children under seven years of age are legally incapable of negligence because they cannot appreciate the dangers posed by their actions (the “tender years” doctrine). Thus, even if their actions played a part in the accident that hurt them, that will not preclude them, or you as their parent and “next friend,” from bringing a suit for damages (Appelhans v. McFall, 325 Ill. App. 3d 232 (Ill. App. Ct. 2001)).
In cases involving children between the ages of seven and 14, there is a rebuttable presumption that the child is incapable of contributory negligence. This means the law still presumes the child cannot be responsible for their injuries, but the opposing party can overcome that presumption by showing sufficient evidence. The jury must take into account the child’s age, capacity, intelligence and experience in determining his or her fault (Savage v. Martin, 256 Ill. App. 3d 272 (Ill. App. Ct. 1993)).
Given the unpredictable nature of children, drivers who see children in the vicinity are expected to exercise a heightened level of care to avoid hitting them.
Do You Have Additional Questions About Illinois Pedestrian Accident Cases Involving Children?
If your child was injured in an Illinois pedestrian accident, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC will work with you and your family to make sure they receive justice. We will work nonstop to see they get the full recovery they deserve. We represent clients on a contingency fee basis so you only pay our legal fees if we win compensation for your child. To learn more about how we can help your family at this difficult time, call our pedestrian injury attorneys today.