RM 620 in Steiner Ranch was the site of a serious crash on December 19, 2017, with three adults and three children injured when an SUV collided with a station wagon. While most of those affected will recover without complications, two of the injured were said to have life-threatening injuries. It is worth noting that two of those involved in this accident were minors, and if their injuries are actionable, their parents will have to file specific paperwork in order to help them bring suit, since anyone and everyone is, at least in theory, entitled to compensation if they are injured due to someone else’s negligence.
In every state, Texas included, minors generally do not have the ability to sue or be sued in civil court, though in many cases, a minor may be charged with a crime. Since a minor may not bring suit on their own behalf, they require what is called a next friend to do so for them. Most times this will wind up being the minor’s parent or parents, but in theory, anyone may stand as next friend provided that they agree to the criteria stipulated in the Texas Rule of Civil Procedure that grants next friend status (mostly agreeing to stand surety for any court costs and agree that their decisions are binding upon the court and the minor).
The legal abilities of a next friend are commonly compared to those of a guardian ad litem in a family law case; both actors are concerned only with the interests of the person they are representing, and is under no obligation to work for the betterment of anyone but that person. A next friend is almost always representing a plaintiff in a civil suit, while a guardian ad litem represents the interests of anyone, but otherwise there are marked similarities.
Settlements and Ownership
If the minors involved in the Steiner Ranch crash decided to bring suit and were successful in alleging negligence as the cause of their injuries, they would be in control of any and all settlement money under Texas law. However, the monies disbursed would not be just handed over to the minor plaintiff as a lump sum – Texas’ public policy encourages responsibility with one’s money and perpetuating the best interests of children, and to further this goal, it is not uncommon for the parent or parents (especially if they served as next friend) to be consulted. While the ultimate decision on how to disburse an award is still the court’s prerogative, the parent’s input is often taken into account.
A structured settlement, usually in the form of an annuity, is the most common outcome of personal injury suits with minor plaintiffs. The court may elect to go this route if it sees fit, and it can also prove easier than disbursing funds in another way. There are few requirements necessary for establishing an annuity, and it has the extra advantage of ensuring that the money will be there for the minor once they get older. In your case, the outcome may differ, but annuities are very commonly used.
Call Our Car Accident Attorneys Today
Auto accidents, especially accidents as devastating as the Steiner Ranch crash, can irrevocably alter lives. If your child is involved in one, it can truly be a parent’s worst nightmare. The passionate New Braunfels car accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm can sit down and work with you to try and obtain the best outcome possible. Call us today to set up an initial consultation.