Can Minors Sue People for Injuries?

minors and personal injuryA minor under 18 does not have the legal capacity to file a lawsuit on their own. As a result, they are required to have a representative file on their behalf. In Texas, this representative is called a ‘next of friend.’ A next of friend is simply a person who has been chosen to stand in the shoes of the minor and pursue claims on their behalf. Typically, the next of friend is a parent or legal guardian of the child. This is convenient because the parents actually have the right to bring the claim for medical expenses since they are the parent’s legal obligation to pay, not the minor. The role of the next of friend is to act in the best interest of the minor and prosecute their rights.

How Old Do You Have to Be to Sue Someone?

To file a lawsuit on your own and represent yourself in Court you must be at least 18 years old in the United States.  However, a minor can sue someone through a representative regardless of their age. In Texas, we call this representative the “next of friend.”

What if the Parent Caused the Injury?

If there are two parents available and one parent causes the injury, then the other parent is going to be the better choice for net of friend. An example of this is when a child must sue a parent who caused a car accident. If there is only one choice for the next of friend, such as a single parent, and they caused the injury, the court may be asked to appoint another relative or other representative as the next of friend or even appoint a legal guardian.

The Legal Proceedings

The litigation process is the same for minors as it is for adults except that the representative of the child makes the decisions as to how to prosecute the claim with the personal injury attorney they have retained to bring the claim. That representative may appear for depositions or testify in court as necessary. The minor may be permitted and/or required to testify if the Court deems the child is of sufficient mental capacity to understand the oath witnesses must take.

What Happens When a Minor’s Lawsuit Settles?

If the case reaches a settlement, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem to act as an independent evaluator of the case and help make decisions as to what to do with the settlement proceeds. The guardian ad litem will communicate directly with the attorney, the next of friend, and the minor is necessary to see that the needs of the minor are met. Once the guardian ad litem is satisfied that the settlement plans are in the best interest of the minor, he/she will set up a minor settlement hearing in order to seek the court’s approval of the settlement.  The minor is generally not able to receive any funds until he/she reaches the age of majority (18).

If the case is settled before a lawsuit is filed and the amount of money is not insignificant, it is common for the parties to file a “friendly lawsuit” so that a minor settlement hearing can be set up. This is done to protect the parties involved from the minor coming back and later claiming there was some sort of fraud or unfairness in the settlement.



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Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., rooted in Christian values, exclusively handles personal injury cases, advocating for the rights of accident and negligence victims. Our Houston-based team, dedicated to compassion and excellence, handles cases across car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, and other types of cases with a commitment to personalized care. Upholding integrity and client-focused service, we strive for impactful legal outcomes. For a detailed understanding of our approach and team, visit our attorneys page.

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