Who can file a lawsuit for minor children if their parents were killed in an accident?
Children orphaned by the wrongful death of their parents are entitled to financial compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. After a parent dies, a child may not think about money at all. But pursuing legal action is essential to provide for the child’s future. It is hard to imagine a worse tragedy for a child than to lose both parents in an accident.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action that seeks financial payment for a person’s death. Only specific parties are eligible to undertake a lawsuit for wrongful death. In some states, only the legal representative of the estate may make a claim. In others, family members may file directly. When a child loses both parents in an accident, that child’s future can be provided for in a wrongful death lawsuit.
A minor child can file a lawsuit in Texas through a Next Friend
Texas handles wrongful death cases involving minors differently than it does with situations involving adults. The wrongful death lawsuit takes an adult standing in as the “next friend” because a juvenile lacks the legal power to sue. Typically, this is one of the parents of the child. But if both parents died in an accident, another competent adult can act as next friend. This is usually the guardian of the child. The next friend is not entitled to anything from the child’s legal claims.
Settling a wrongful death lawsuit with a child
When a minor’s injury claim is resolved, there is usually a hearing in front of a judge to assess whether the minor’s interests are protected. In Texas, the child will often receive the settlement money for an injury, not the parent, and the court goes to considerable lengths to safeguard the child’s interests. To represent the minor’s interests, a separate lawyer will be chosen by the court. The judge receives advice from this independent attorney, known as an “ad litem,” on whether the settlement terms are in the best interests of the child. That attorney will owe the minor the duties of undivided loyalty, confidentiality, and competent representation. The expense of the attorney who will represent the interests of the child during the hearing is often covered by the defendant.
There are usually two ways a minor’s injury claim is paid. Either the settlement funds buy an insurance policy called an annuity, which can be paid out at different intervals until the child reaches adulthood, or the money is deposited in the court’s registry to be given to the minor when the child turns 18 years old.
The decision of whether to deposit the funds in the court’s register or buy an annuity insurance policy can be heavily influenced by the parents. Annuities provide more flexible payment schedules and often do not fully pay the money when the child turns 18.
When children are still teens they are typically not very effective at managing their money. For this reason, many people choose annuities, which provide a longer payout period after the children have more life experience.
Some annuities help pay for college and offer regular payouts while students are enrolled. The annuity may be used to payout when they are 30 or even 40 years old. At particular life phases, it is not unusual for the benefits to become lifelong benefits for large settlements.
Wrongful Death Lawyer with Experience Representing Children
Our wrongful death lawyers provide free, no-obligation consultations to assist you to understand your choices, and we don’t charge until your case is satisfactorily resolved. Our firm is devoted to assisting families through this terrible time and getting the compensation that our clients need to cover medical costs, funeral fees, and any associated losses. Our wrongful death lawyer is board certified and has achieved superb results for his clients that total more than $100 million. Please call us at 1-800-883-9858 or contact us online if you suspect a family member’s death was caused by someone else’s misconduct.