Can Children Sue when their Parents are Injured?
Children rely on their parents for food and shelter, as well as other necessary goods and services. When their parents are badly injured, the children can also suffer right along with Mom and Dad.
Fortunately, there is a little known law on the books that provides children with a legal cause of action. Found at Florida Statutes § 768.0415, the law identifies when a child can sue for a parent’s injuries. Please contact Earnhart Law if you would like to discuss this option with a seasoned Delray Beach personal injury attorney.
The Parent Must Have Suffered a Serious Injury
The statute does not give children a legal cause of action every time their parent suffers an injury. Instead, according to the words of the statute, the injury must be a “significant permanent injury” that results in “permanent total disability.”
For example, a parent who is permanently paralyzed after a car accident would have suffered a sufficiently serious injury. Someone who broke an arm would not be, since the injury would heal and the parent is not totally, permanently disabled.
In our experience, spinal cord injuries and brain injuries are the most common causes of these disabling injuries. However, you should consult with an attorney to determine whether your injuries qualify.
Children Can Receive a Variety of Damages
The purpose of this lawsuit is to provide compensation to children for certain losses. The compensation will be in the form of money damages and can cover things like:
- Lost services. Parents provide many services to their children, such as cooking, cleaning, and transportation. A disabled parent can no longer perform these tasks.
- Loss of comfort, society, and companionship. Parents also extend love and protection to their children. When a parent is fully disabled, the parent-child relationship can suffer permanent disrepair.
Meet with a Delray Beach personal injury attorney to calculate the amount available. The cost of hiring someone to cook and clean is fairly easy to estimate, since there are market rates available for those services. The loss of love or protection, however, is much harder to express in monetary terms.
The Defendant Must Have Been Negligent
The defendant must have injured the parent by failing to use reasonable care. This means they must have been negligent.
In some situations, a victim can be injured through their own fault or through no one’s fault. For example, a neighbor’s tree might fall during a storm and land on you. This does not mean that your neighbor is automatically responsible for the accident. However, if the tree was diseased, it should have been cut down, and a neighbor’s failure to do so could qualify as negligence.
The Adult Must Have Been a Parent
According to the statute, a child can sue for injury to a natural or adoptive parent. A live-in partner who has not yet adopted the children does not qualify. Nor does an adult sibling who is raising the children. This might sound unfair. After all, many adults play parent-like roles in the lives of young children. But it is currently the law.
Contact Earnhart Law Today
We will gladly discuss your child’s possible right to compensation after a horrifying accident. Please call us at Earnhart Law today to schedule a free consultation at 561-265-2220.