Suffering an injury as an adult can be a traumatic experience. But when your child is hurt by the negligence of another, the experience can be even worse. Not only is your child suffering, but parents may be burdened with substantial medical bills and may miss time from work to take care of an injured child. In Alabama, when a child is injured by the negligence of another person or business, there are several legal issues you should be aware of when you consider whether to pursue legal action.
Who has the authority to bring legal action on behalf of a minor child?
Pursuant to Alabama Code § 6-5-390, a father or a mother who are married shall have an equal right to commence an action for an injury to a minor child. When the parents of an injured child are unmarried (whether by divorce or otherwise), both parents may want to pursue the child’s claim. Alabama Code § 6-5-390 states that in the event the parents of the child are not married, the parent having “legal custody” of the child shall have the “exclusive right” to pursue the child’s personal injury claim. In Miller v. Dismukes, 624 So. 2d 1038 (Ala. 1993), the Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit because the father who filed the claim did not have authority to bring the lawsuit under 6-5-390. A divorce decree provided that that child’s mother had legal custody of the child, therefore, the father did not have the authority to file a claim.