Does a Person under the Age of 18 Have a Legal Right to Sue?
Under many aspects of the law, the rights of minors are somewhat limited. For example, a person under the age of 18 in New Jersey may not be legally bound by a contract. How does that apply to personal injury claims? Can a minor file a legal claim to recover compensation for losses suffered in a car accident, slip and fall or other instance of carelessness or negligence by another person?
The Need for a Guardian Ad Litem
Under New Jersey law, anyone under the age of 18 lacks the legal capacity to either file a lawsuit for personal injury or enter into a settlement agreement on a personal injury claim. A minor may, however, be a party to a personal injury lawsuit when such a legal action is initiated on their behalf by a person referred to as a “guardian ad litem.” This legal term translates to “guardian for the lawsuit,” and allows the person appointed to act in the child’s best interests in the legal proceeding.
Who May Act as a Guardian Ad Litem?
The New Jersey Court Rules allow “any natural parent” of a minor to serve as guardian ad litem. There’s no separate filing required to create such an arrangement, but the personal injury complaint must state the nature of the relationship between the child and the parent and must indicate the parent’s agreement to act as guardian ad litem. As guardian ad litem, the parent will be deemed a fiduciary of the child and must act in the child’s best interests at all times. Guardians ad litem may be compensated for their services, but must typically request such compensation in writing from the court.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
At the Law Offices of Howard D. Popper, we can help protect your rights. For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after any type of personal injury, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton.
We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.