Drivon Turner & Waters,PLC

May my child file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

Children have rights. In California and throughout the nation, children have the right to their basic needs, like education, medical care and to be safe in their own homes. Just as adults, children cannot be discriminated against based on their inclusion in protected classes and cannot have rights taken away from them without due process.

Children do not, however, have all of the same rights that adults enjoy. For example, children may not sue others or be sued in their own names. If a child becomes the victim of a personal injury-causing accident and requires the payment of damages to move their life forward, it may be up to their parents or guardians to initiate litigation on their behalf.

If a child becomes the victim of medical malpractice, then it is possible that the child's "next friend" will step in and sue the responsible party or parties on the child's behalf. A next friend is a person who may speak for the child, as minors generally do not have the capacity to make responsible choices about their legal rights and options. The next friend is not a party to the litigation, but is a responsible representative on the child's behalf who may help the child enforce and protect their rights.

Just as adults may become the victims of dangerous doctors, nurses and other negligent health care professionals, so too can kids suffer injuries when their medical care suffers from delinquencies. With the help of a next friend, a child may pursue litigation against the party or parties whose negligence resulted in their personal injuries.

Source: FindLaw.com, "What Does 'Next Friend' or 'a/n/f' Mean in Legal Documents?," accessed on July 26, 2017

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