Litigation of any kind can be intimidating, especially when a child or an incapacitated adult is involved. In these cases, the court often appoints someone to bring legal action on their behalf – that’s what we refer to as Ad Litem; literally meaning “for the suit”. It ensures justice for those who cannot advocate for themselves in court proceedings.
Guardians ad litem are often appointed by the court to ensure that a minor or adult who is unable to make decisions on their own legally has someone advocating for them. These figures also frequently appear in family law proceedings and can even be used as representatives of an estate when somebody passes away.
When is “Ad Litem” Used in a Personal Injury Case?
In the event of a child experiencing injury in an accident, it is often necessary to appoint an ad litem. This typically occurs due to grievous losses that may be faced by caretakers such as parents or guardians – for instance:
- Medical bills (past, current, and future)
- Loss of earnings due to having to provide care for the child
- Mental distress caused by their child’s injury
The young plaintiff will have a separate suit, seeking reparations for losses such as:
- Mental distress
- Future loss of earning capacity due to injury
- Lost wages if the plaintiff was working as a teen
- Medical expenses that the child may incur for the rest of their life
It’s important to note that even though a child and his or her parent may have similar legal claims, those claims do not necessarily go hand-in-hand — they can involve different damages. To ensure the best outcome for children, who aren’t legally able to make their own decisions on such matters, a third party will often be appointed as decision maker in these cases.
When parties come to an agreement in a personal injury case, they may enlist the assistance of an ad litem – typically a lawyer with no prior connection to the situation. The court-appointed attorney will review all relevant information and make recommendations as to whether or not it would be beneficial for them approve settlement reached by its constituents. Ultimately, their aim is always focused on what’s best for those involved – especially minors caught up in legal proceedings beyond their control.
In most cases, the court relies on recommendations of guardians ad litem when deciding whether to accept a settlement. This is because all parties have an interest in ensuring that children’s needs are addressed and fulfilled. Unfortunately, there are some instances where parents’ aims may not be in their own child’s best interests; however these situations remain relatively rare.
The guardian ad litem serves as a crucial safeguard of justice on behalf of the child, ensuring they receive all possible compensation in both settling and litigation. This added measure helps to provide an equitable result for those whose cases most merit it.
A guardian ad litem can also guide parents or guardians on how to manage settlement money for their minor child. It cannot be sent directly to minors, therefore establishing a trust or annuity may offer an appropriate solution. In addition, the court requires reports from the appointed administrator of any such account that allows parents and administrators alike peace-of-mind in ensuring funds are properly managed until they can legally access them upon maturity at age 18.