A person under the age of 18 is considered to be a minor in Michigan. This is known as "age of majority". Minors receive special treatment under the law.
One of the most important of these is the fact that minors have an extension on the statute of limitations. For example, normally the statute of limitations on an automobile accident case in Michigan for an adult is three years from the date of the accident. However, if a minor is involved in an accident, the statute of limitations would be extended until the day before the minor's ninteenth birthday. Up until age eighteen, a case can be brought on behalf of the minor by what is known as "next friend", which is normally the parent. However, it can be any person the lawyer suggests and that person is appointed by the court to be the minor's "next friend". The "next friend" of the minor brings the case on behalf of the minor.
After eighteen, when the minor reaches the "age of majority", then he or she can bring a case on his or her own behalf until the day before his or her nineteenth birthday.
In the area of medical malpractice, a minor is subject to different statutes of limitations, which are shorter. These depend on the date when the medical malpractice occurred in relation to the age of the child at the date of the occurrence of the medical malpractice. Thus, in the medical malpractice area, care should be taken to consult with an attorney immediately if medical malpractice is suspected involving a child (such as a birth injury-cerebral palsy) because it is often much shorter than the statute of limitations extension mentioned above for minors in general negligence type cases.
Even though there is an extension of the statute of limitations and accidents involving minors, it is important not to wait a very long time since witnesses have a way of disappearing, memories fade, and insurance policies are lost or forgotten. Also, there may be notice requirements (such as in the case of an injury caused by some governmental negligence), which may be important to comply with.
Another important aspect of minors cases is no settlement is truly effective with a minor unless it is approved by judge, usually in the probate or circuit court. A judge must approve of the appropriateness of the settlement and any moneys received by the minor (in excess of $5,000.00 net of attorneys fees) must be kept safe for the minor until that minor reaches at least the age of majority (eighteen years old). Sometimes, it is possible to extend that even beyond age eighteen through structured settlements, which are basically annuities for the benefit of the child, which benefit from tax-free accumulations during the period of the annuity.
Child injuries also involve some medical differences between adult injuries. Often, injuries to bones must be considered in relation to the future growth of the child and this is true for scars also. Settlements must take into consideration these factors, as well as other insurance factors, before being approved. Also, of course, settlements for children who are benefiting from certain governmental programs, such as ADC, Medicaid, etc., have to be carefully scrutinized in order to avoid jeopardizing those benefits.
Children are special! The lawyers at Gary M. Bloom P.C. recognize that fact and handle those cases accordingly. If a child has sustained an injury, whether it be from an automobile accident, dog bite, or some type of birth trauma, call for free consultation. We will tell you what we think in a straightforward and objective manner. We will answer your questions.
In addition, you should know that, in the event of the death of a child from negligent conduct, the only proper party to represent the child is the Estate of the child, which must be set up through the probate court. Cases can be brought for unborn children who are killed prior to birth but only in the event that the child could have lived outside the womb had it not been for the accident.