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Personal Injury Lawsuits Involving Adults vs. Children

May 02, 2019

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

Accidents happen, and they’re often the fault of another person. These types of accidents don’t only happen to adults, though. Children are also often the victims of these accidents. When children are injured due to someone else’s negligence, parents often wonder what recourse they have, and if there is a possibility of a lawsuit.

Just like adults, children can also receive compensation after an accident that was the fault of someone else. However, personal injury lawsuits involving children work slightly different than those involving adults. Below are just a few of the ways these lawsuits differ. All parents should understand these differences, and the possible action to take if their child is injured.

Statute of Limitations

All Pennsylvania personal injury lawsuits have a statute of limitations. This is the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit. When lawsuits are filed after this time, it’s likely the courts will dismiss the case, barring an individual’s chance at receiving compensation.

Most personal injury cases in Pennsylvania have a statute of limitations of two years. However, this isn’t the case when the person injured is a child. The courts understand that injuries incurred in childhood are often not readily apparent. Children also often have a difficult time explaining their injuries, or the circumstances surrounding it. In some instances, such as in sexual assault cases, children are often not ready to come forward until they are much older.

For this reason, personal injury cases involving children have an extended statute of limitations. In these cases the statute is extended until two years after the child’s 18th birthday.

Comparative Negligence

The courts recognize that sometimes an adult is partially responsible for the accident that caused their injuries. Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence statute, a person can still claim compensation under these circumstances.

The courts will assign the plaintiff, or person filing the lawsuit, a percentage of fault and reduce any compensation awarded by that same percentage. This is true as long as the plaintiff was 50 percent or less at fault at fault for the accident. When children are partially to blame for the accident though, the courts may not hold them partially responsible, depending on their case..

This is due to the fact that the courts recognize children do not have the same awareness of possible dangers as adults do. The courts will typically presume that children aged 1 to 6 aren’t capable of negligence although the defense can dispute this when the child is aged 7 to 14.


When an adult is awarded damages in a personal injury case, it is expected that they will receive them as soon as possible. When a child is awarded damages through a lawsuit, the money is typically placed into a trust account until the minor’s 18th birthday if the lawsuit was filed before that time.

In addition, the court must approve the minor’s settlement and order the money to be placed into an interest bearing account. This stipulation ensures the settlement will benefit the child, such as providing for college tuition or medical expenses, and that the parents are not going to use them for their own benefit.

Contact the Pennsylvania Personal Injury Lawyers Experienced with Lawsuits Involving Children

Not all personal injury lawsuits involving children are filed on or after the child’s 18th birthday. In some cases, when the injury is apparent, the parents of the child can file a lawsuit on their behalf. Whether this is the case, or a child waits until the courts recognize them as an adult, accident victims should trust only an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney to handle their case.

If your child has been injured due to the fault of another person, contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123. We understand the differences between these lawsuits and most others, and we will fight to ensure your child’s rights are upheld in court. Call today so we can begin discussing your child’s case.


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