Society looks at violent crimes against children as being absolutely reprehensible, so all US states have laws that enhance criminal charges when the victim is a minor. Unfortunately, statistics from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) reveal that harsh punishment for offenses does not deter criminal activity. Around 40% of American children are the direct victims of violent crime or abuse, including assault, battery, sexual assault, molestation, and many others. For a child, the physical pain may be significant, but the emotional and psychological effects are also profound.
In Florida, it is possible for parents to seek justice after their child is the victim of a crime. You can pursue the offender, as well as any property owner or party that negligently allowed the offense to happen. However, there are some laws that make these civil cases different from personal injury cases involving adults. A Miami crime victims attorney can explain details on the important factors when a child is the victim of a crime, and some general information is useful.
Statute of Limitations
There is a deadline for filing a lawsuit to recover damages for your child’s injuries as the victim of a crime, and it is two years in Florida. If you do not initiate litigation before the statute of limitations expires, you are barred from suing for compensation on your child’s behalf. However:
- The clock is paused in situations where the child takes legal action. This means the statute of limitations does not begin until the minor becomes an adult, except that no lawsuit is allowed after seven years.
- There is a separate statute of limitations when the crime is sexual battery against a child who is 16 years or younger. No deadline applies, so it is possible to file a lawsuit at any time.
Options for Settlement and Civil Suits
Many personal injury claims settle by agreement, but special rules exist when a minor is a victim. They apply to any cases where a child is harmed by criminal acts as well as negligence. Under Florida law, a parent can only agree to a settlement that is less than $15,000. For any award above that amount, parents must go through legal guardianship proceedings.
The law is a way of protecting the funds that a child receives since the guardianship process monitors income and expenses. It is also necessary to go through the guardianship process if you will sue in court for your child’s injuries, regardless of the amount. The guardian acts on behalf of the child as a party to the litigation.
For both settlements and civil suits, the award amount could easily exceed $15,000. You will likely need to work through guardianship as well as the personal injury lawsuit.
Discuss Options With a Miami Crime Victims Lawyer Attorney
For more information about the process and compensation you can recover, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA, to set up a no-cost consultation. You can reach our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL, by calling (305) 371-6000 or visiting us online.