Minors are not allowed to pursue personal injury lawsuits on their own. They must be represented in court by a parent or guardian. Sometimes those people have a stake in the outcome. In those cases, a guardian ad litem might be appointed.
The court wants to ensure the best interests of the child are met. Personal injury cases involving a minor can be different from those involving adults. Sometimes the court needs to provide extra safeguards for children and at-risk adults.
Who is the guardian ad litem?
The court can appoint a guardian ad litem when a child or vulnerable adult needs someone who is not a family member representing them.
In Wisconsin, the person appointed is a lawyer who has received specialized training. The court will record in writing why the person was appointed. They have the power to examine, cross-examine and subpoena witnesses. They also have access to records related to the child and the case.
In many personal injury cases, they evaluate a settlement to determine if it is fair. That report is presented to the court. The court then accepts or rejects the agreement. The agreement cannot become binding until the court approves.
The process offers protections for both sides
That process can also protect defendants in personal injury cases. There is less chance the agreement can be challenged in court when the minor becomes a legal adult. The process is usually necessary when there is a large settlement. Cases that involve smaller settlements may not require a guardian ad litem.
There are additional requirements when a personal injury case includes a minor. Depending on the details of a case, the court might take extra measures to safeguard a minor’s rights.