A Child’s Personal Injury Case and the Guardian ad Litem
In personal injury lawsuits, Texas law considers that children (under 18 years old) lack the experience and judgment to represent their own interests in cases where the parent or parents are judged as incapable of representing their child’s interests. Both federal and state laws have provisions to protect children. In the state of Texas, a court will appoint “guardian ad litem” to represent the child’s best interests, whether the minor is the plaintiff or the defendant. (“Ad litem,” from Latin, means to “litigate” or “represent in litigation.”)
An attorney ad litem provides legal services to an incapacitated or minor person. According to Texas statutes, a guardian ad litem can be:
- A volunteer advocate from a charitable organization;
- A licensed professional other than an attorney whose training relates to evaluating a child’s best interests;
- An adult with the competence, training, and expertise determined by the court to be sufficient to represent the best interests of the child; or
- An attorney ad litem who has been appointed to serve in the dual role.
The GAL will meet with and interview the child, and also independently investigate the facts of the case. She or he will:
- Appear with the child at all proceedings, and prepare the child, as necessary, to testify in accord with the child’s interests;
- Advise the child in understandable terms about the GAL’s role and responsibilities and the child’s rights (the same as an adult’s in personal injury cases);
- Explain the court process and the court’s decision, and what the decision means for the child and other important people in the child’s life; and
- File the appropriate briefs, petitions, motions, and appeals on the child’s behalf.
A GAL who makes a good faith effort to determine and understand the child’s wishes, establish a positive, trusting relationship with the child and those close to her or him, and advocate for those wishes can be very helpful during a distressing time, and work toward a positive outcome the child.
At Hudson Law Firm, we put PERSONAL back into Personal Injury
Law. For an injury claim evaluation, call us at (972) 360-9898, or visit our website to chat with an
associate. We understand and care about your injury, and look forward to
helping you with your accident claim.