Can a Parent Waive a Child’s Right to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

When your child wants to play on a school sports team and school officials ask you to sign a waiver of liability, should your child be hurt, even if it’s a result of the school’s negligence? Are such releases valid? Can they be legally enforced to prevent your child from filing a lawsuit for any type of injury, even if it’s a result of the school’s carelessness?

The answer varies from state, but Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws are quite clear on the subject—a minor child generally cannot waive a right to sue and cannot have his or her right to sue waived by a parent.

Different organizations take different approaches to obtaining a waiver of liability (release and waiver are essentially interchangeable terms here). Some require the child and the parent to sign the waiver, but others only require the parent to sign. In both contexts, though, Pennsylvania and New Jersey apply long-accepted principles of contract law.

Where only the parent has signed the waiver, the parent’s right to sue may actually be waived. This waiver means that parents may not recover for medical expenses paid by them or any out of pocket expenses incurred.  However, since only the parent has signed the waiver, that does not preclude the child from suing for negligence or carelessness and recovering other damages, like pain and suffering.

In a situation where both the parent and the child sign the waiver, the child’s agreement to release or waive liability is generally not valid. One of the requirements of a valid contract is that the person entering into the contract must have the legal capacity to do so…i.e., the person must understand that he or she is entering into a contract, and must understand what that means. Someone who is mentally ill or under the influence of drugs or alcohol may lack the capacity to understand the nature of a transaction. The same principle applies to someone who is under the age of 18.  Anyone under the age of 18 cannot enter into a contract unless it is for a necessity or they have been emancipated. Any contract signed by a minor is “voidable’ which means that the minor may choose to “disaffirm” or void a contract entered into before reaching the age of 18.

Contact Fritz & Bianculli

At the law firm of Fritz & Bianculli, we have more than 30 years of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered nearly $200 million in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at 215-458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.

Who Pays Your Medical Bills When You Are in a Car Accident?

When you’ve been injured in a car accident, or as a result of someone else’s carelessness or negligence, one of the first concerns will likely be about paying your medical expenses. Will the at-fault party have to pay all medical bills on an ongoing basis?

The answer to most personal injury cases is no if you own a car and have your own car insurance policy.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, when you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, your own insurance company pays your medicals bills, through PIP (Personal Injury Protection).  Therefore, when you pick your insurance coverage, it is important to make sure to get enough PIP coverage to protect you in case you have a car accident.

Once your insurance company has paid to the policy limit, you will be responsible for any further medical costs. Any bills that are not paid by your own PIP, can often be submitted to your health insurance carrier but any co-pays and deductibles will apply. You may also be able to get coverage from Medicaid, Medicare or other state health insurance programs.

Contact Fritz & Bianculli

At the law firm of Fritz & Bianculli, we have more than 30 years of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered nearly $200 million in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at (215) 458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.

Today’s ‘Great Toy’ Can Lead to Tomorrow’s ER Visit

Just a few months ago, hoverboards were all the rage. Celebrities were seen on them every day and most teenagers had one on their Christmas list. The craze has died, and unfortunately, so have a number of users, mostly children, including a six-year-old boy. Hundreds of injuries have also been reported, and not just from falls, although one death in London came when a 15-year-old fell into the path of an oncoming bus. Many users –at least 22 as of January 2016—had also reported that the devices had a risk of spontaneously catching on fire, apparently from overheated batteries.

Just after Christmas, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released a report indicating that, to its knowledge, there had been more than 70 emergency room visits related to hoverboards, including:

  • Falls
  • Smoke-inhalation when a hoverboard caught fire
  • Broken finger caused when a hoverboard ran over a bystander

 

In Philadelphia, local doctors said they saw a dramatic spike in hoverboard-related accidents in the days following Christmas. According to Dr. Michael Rivlin, a hand and arm specialist at Jefferson University Hospital, he’s never encountered as many injuries in such a short period of time in his entire medical career. He treated seven patients for broken bones in just over a day. The ages of the injured? All across the board, says Rivlin, who treated a patient as young as 10 and one as old as 50.

Rivlin says most fractures come when users try to brace a fall by putting out their arm. He cautioned, though, that the injuries could be much more severe, including neck or head injuries, and even paralysis or death. The hoverboards apparently do not negotiate changes in ground level very well. Safety experts have said that a slight rise in the pavement can stop a hoverboard in its tracks, possibly throwing the rider off balance.

Contact Fritz & Bianculli

At the law firm of Fritz & Bianculli, we have more than 30 years of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered nearly $200 million in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at 215-458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.

Are Personal Injury Lawsuits Taxable?

If you have been hurt by someone else’s carelessness, and your lawyer negotiates a settlement, will you have to pay income taxes on the amount received? The answer—according to the IRS, is, for the most part – no.

As a general rule, if your settlement is for injuries and pain and suffering, you will not be required to pay back any taxes.

Compensation for Medical Expenses for Personal Injury – Sickness

Any amount intended to compensate you for physical injury or illness will not be taxable, provided you did not take an itemized deduction related to the injury or illness in any year before you received the settlement. If, however, you had a tax benefit in prior years (i.e., took a medical deduction related to the injury), you must report the settlement on a pro rata basis to the extent that you deducted medical expenses in earlier years.

Emotional Distresses the Result of an Injury or Illness

If you suffer emotional distress as part or as a consequence of a physical injury or illness, it will not be taxable, unless you had some prior tax benefit tied to the emotional distress (i.e., took a medical deduction in prior years for treatment for the distress). If, however, the payment is not tied to a personal injury or illness, it will always be taxable as income.

To fully determine whether your recovery is taxable you should always speak with an accountant. Taxability of recovery is different if you have an employment-related lawsuit, a breach of contract action or loss of property.

Contact Fritz & Bianculli

At the law firm of Fritz & Bianculli, we have more than 30 years of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered nearly $200 million in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.
To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at 215-458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.