When a minor is injured or harmed by the actions of another, they may need to sue that party to get the compensation they need to move forward with their life. But minors generally cannot manage their own legal affairs. 

How can you solve this dilemma, whether you're a minor yourself or are assisting a minor in their legal efforts? The answer is a guardian ad litem. What does this mean? And how do they participate in the minor's legal case? Here's what you need to know.

What is a Guardian ad Litem?

The idea of a guardian is not uncommon for many Americans. This is a competent adult who is appointed to care for a minor or someone who is not legally competent to manage their own affairs. 

The addition of ad litem simply means that this guardian is appointed solely for the purposes of the lawsuit. This guardian manages the legal suit, but they are not the guardian of the person or other financial affairs. 

Who Can Be a Guardian ad Litem?

The most common guardian ad litem is a parent of the minor or incompetent person. 

However, a parent or grandparent is not the only choice. The court may appoint anyone who they feel will act in the best interests of the child — whether that is a friend, relative, or even an independent professional. 

Who Should Be a Guardian ad Litem?

Just because someone can be a guardian ad litem doesn't mean they should be. This person must be willing and able to do what's best for the child, which can be hindered if the person has a conflict of interest. For instance, a child who sues a parent for negligence may need an independent guardian ad litem. 

In addition, available parents or legal guardians may not have the time to commit to this role or the temperament to achieve the best outcome for the child. In these cases, the best choice may be someone else. 

When Does the Guardian End Their Work?

The guardian ad litem's role ends when the legal matter is completed. This may be relatively quick if the personal injury case is settled or the trial is speedy. However, if the child's financial damages must be managed until they are an adult, the guardian may have the role for some time. 

Whatever stage the case is in, the guardian's role generally ends when the minor reaches legal age. At this point, a legally competent child may retain help, but it is their own case now. 

Where Can You Learn More?

Do you or another loved one need a guardian ad litem for a personal injury case? Find out more about this vital role by meeting with a personal injury attorney in your state today.