Who Brings a Minors Claim?

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Brittany talks about what happens when a child is in a car wreck or another incident where they’re injured.

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► Hi, my name is Brittany Partridge and I’m an attorney with Butler Kahn Law Firm. Today I’m going to talk to you about what happens when a child is in a car wreck or another incident where they’re injured.
► So, the first big question that’s asked is, “How do I bring a claim on the child’s behalf,” or, “Who gets to bring the claim?” Well, in the state of Georgia, nobody under the age of 18 can file a lawsuit or bring a claim for themselves. So that means somebody over the age of 18 has to bring a claim or file the lawsuit, and there’s usually two scenarios that we see. The most common, I would say 95% of the cases, is the parent or the person who has custody of the child bringing the claim on the child’s behalf. So for example, you may have John Smith is the father and Joey Smith is the child. Well, in a lawsuit, you would see John Smith as natural guardian of Joey Smith, and that simply means that John Smith is the natural parent of Joey Smith, and he’s bringing the claim on Joey’s behalf. You may also see, in that same context, John Smith, next friend of Joey Smith, which basically just signals to the court that this is a child and John Smith is bringing the claim on Joey Smith, a child’s, behalf.
► Now, the other option, which we don’t see as much, just because of the amount of intense oversight that’s involved and the application process for it, but there are some cases where it is in the child’s best interest to have a conservator appointed. Now, what the heck is a conservator? It’s somebody who normally’s full-time job is to take care of people or money, making sure that their best interests are met. So if we have a situation where a child is maybe without parents, maybe they lost their parents in the car wreck, or their parents aren’t exactly stable and they wouldn’t be able to bring a claim. Or maybe the parents just aren’t ready or wanting to handle the claim on the child’s behalf, or even maybe there’s a chance that the parents might be blamed for what happened to the child.
► Well, in any of those situations, you’re going to want to get a conservator involved, and the conservator will apply to what’s called the probate court in Georgia, which is a separate court from the state’s superior court where a lawsuit’s brought, and they will submit an application to the judge and ask to be appointed as a conservator, which means that they will have control of the decisions of litigation and settlement. Now, can a conservator be a family member? The answer is yes, but that’s not necessarily recommended, just because these conservators are people who do this for a lot of cases. This is oftentimes their full-time job. They are trained in this and they know what to do, and they know Georgia law. So if you ever find that your child has been in a car wreck or serious

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