When a minor (under 18 years of age) brings suit in Maryland for a personal injury, the lawyer will bring the suit under the “next friend”. This person is either the parent or the guardian of the minor.
Specifically, Md. Rule 2-202 (2006) provides that a parent has the exclusive authority to sue on behalf of his/her minor child for the period of one year of the accrual of the cause of action. After the period of one year and person “interested in the minor” shall have the right to institute suit on behalf of the minor.
While the parent as “next friend” is often the named Plaintiff in the case they are considered a non-party in the eyes of the court. Parker v. Housing Authority of Baltimore City, 129 Md. App. 482 (1999) (“The [next friend] is, in contemplation of law, admitted by the court to prosecute for the infant; though, according to the practice of our courts, never by any actual order passed for that purpose….Maryland Rule 2-423 does not authorize the circuit court to order an examination of a non-party next friend.”).
In addition, Maryland personal injury law mandates that any recovery by a minor of $5,000.00 or more be placed in a special trust for the use of the minor after the minor turns eighteen.
For more information about minors and Maryland personal injury law, please contact us.