A previous post on this blog discussed how many victims of bicycle accidents are minor children, which is not surprising since the bicycle is one of the best ways for Orange County children under 16 or so to get around independently.
While many of these bicycle accidents are relatively minor, some are, sadly, quite serious and leave a child hospitalized with broken bones or other serious injuries. In the most serious accidents, a child could even die or come out of the accident with a permanent disability that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
California parents in these situations are entitled to seek legal justice for their child if a negligent driver caused their accident. However, it is important for these parents to remember that, legally, children do not have the right to file a lawsuit on their own behalf.
Rather, a child in California who is under 18 will need a guardian ad litem to file suit on their behalf. While the phrase guardian ad litem also is used in the family law context, in a personal injury case, a guardian ad litem is simply a responsible adult who will help handle the lawsuit on the child’s behalf. A parent or someone who already has guardianship over the child can act as a guardian ad litem.
To be a guardian ad litem, one needs to file a special request with the court that will be hearing the case. While these requests are often uncontested, it is still an important detail that someone, particularly someone trying to handle his or her child’s case, can overlook.
There are also other special considerations when an Orange County child has been injured on a bicycle and needs to sue a negligent driver. An experienced attorney can be helpful in navigating through these considerations.