When a minor is injured, can they sue? Well, the answer is yes and no. Anyone under the age of 18 cannot commence a lawsuit for the injuries they suffered personally, however, a parent or guardian can bring a case on their behalf.
When a claim is brought on behalf of a minor by a parent, the parent doesn’t get to just pocket the funds or even exclusively call all of the shots. Instead, there is a procedure that must be gone through whenever a case is settled on behalf of a minor, and that is a petition for approval of a minor’s compromise (the petition is a form petition created by the Judicial Counsel and can be found here).
The petition is filed in probate court, and the court looks at the claim, what the settlement offer is, what the injuries were, where the money is going, etc. and decides if the claim was sufficiently prosecuted and if the settlement amount fairly compensates and protects the minor.
While it is always best to pursue a claim relatively shortly after it occurs, due to evidentiary reasons among others, sometimes a minor doesn’t have a parent or guardian that wants to sue on their behalf. What happens when a 10 year old kid is permanently injured in a car accident and cannot seek justice for 8 more years?
Well, the answer is that they simply wait those 8 years and then seek justice. I know what you are saying to yourself right now, “What about the statute of limitations?” Well, the California legislature has the minor covered. Under Code of Civil Procedure section 352, if the person is a minor then the statute of limitations for their cause of action doesn’t start to run until they turn 18.
While waiting 8 years may adversely effect the minor’s claim as evidence may have been innocently destroyed in those intervening years, they can still seek their justice, and depending on the claim, succeed in finding it.