When your child is injured in an accident, you have many obligations as their parent. Your first obligation is to do everything in your power to ensure that they are well cared for. You must also work on their behalf to get settlement money when someone else was to blame for the accident. Personal injury settlements for minors involve some unique characteristics that your family must consider.
Because of the child’s age, they do not have the legal status to act on their own. However, as the injured party, they also need money now to help pay for their care and to compensate them for what they are going through. It is incumbent on you as the parent or guardian to act now on their behalf (when the child turns 18, they can act on their own, but they should not have to wait that long).
Working with a personal injury attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, you could maximize the amount of settlement money that your child receives. The personal injury settlement is critical. Contact us today for a free consultation.
You Need the Settlement Funds to Last a Long Time
When you reach a settlement agreement on behalf of a minor child, the child’s settlement money needs to last into their adult years. They would need to use the money on their own behalf in the future when they are old enough to care for themselves.
If the minor’s personal injury case involves a permanent injury, they would suffer damages for the rest of their life. They may incur medical expenses in the future, and they may not even be able to work.
A Child’s Settlement Looks Well Into the Future
When you are acting on a child’s behalf, you owe it to them to fight for the most possible money. The at-fault party needs to pay for both past and future damages. A minor’s injuries can last for a lifetime. Your lawsuit must account for the money that they need for the rest of their life. While the money is for the minor’s benefit now, it will pay for continued expenses as an adult.
Here are some things that you would need to consider when you are fighting for money on behalf of the minor.
You Can Establish a Trust Fund to Handle Medical Expenses and Other Critical Items
Your family may need money to pay for medical and other expenses for the rest of the child’s life. Not only would you have medical bills, but your family could ever need help with things like college tuition (even though the at-fault party is not obligated to pay for that).
As the minor’s parent, you can take the critical step of establishing a trust fund to help ensure that the minor receives the care and support that they need for the rest of their life. A trustee would manage the settlement funds, following the terms of the trust. The money could be released at certain points, such as when the minor turns 18 or 21.
How the Minor’s Personal Injury Claim Is Paid Is Critical
There are ways that you could help ensure that the money from the minor’s personal injury claim is there when your child needs it. One of your biggest fears is that a child can spend their entire personal injury settlement as soon as they become an adult and have access to the money. At that point, a parent or guardian can no longer control how a new adult spends their money.
Working with an attorney, you could ensure that personal injury claims are paid as a structured settlement, as opposed to a lump sum. Structured settlements can pay some money at a time, so the minor’s settlement cannot be spent all at once.
Your family must be careful if you take a lump sum. Having that much money in a bank account in short order presents dangers.
You Need Court Approval When Handling Personal Injury Settlements for a Minor
Since parents are acting on behalf of their child in bringing the minor’s claim, a court would need to approve the agreement. The court’s approval would be contingent on the settlement agreement being in the child’s best interest. You may have heard of this standard being used in child custody cases. The settlement must be approved by the court.
Obviously, the court is looking out for the child’s best interest. The fear is that some parents may be settling their claim for too little, or they may use money that their child needs for their own benefit. There must be a court order before the settlement agreement can be signed.
When a minor under the age of 18 receives any type of property, such as a personal injury settlement, it must go through the probate court. Jurisdictions have different rules about the threshold that requires the probate court to approve a settlement for a minor child.
There are some cases where a court may appoint a guardian ad litem for approval of the settlement. This person acts as an attorney for the child, and the court requires that they review the settlement on behalf of the child. Their role is to consider only the child’s best interest.
In many cases, the court orders the money to be placed in a bank account for the benefit of the minor child. The parent or guardian would need the permission of the court in order to access the funds. In other words, there are controls and restrictions on how they can use the money.
Insurance Companies Will Still Make the Settlement Process Difficult
What is not unique about settlement agreements for child injuries is the fact that the insurance company will try to underpay the claim to the best of its ability. In fact, the more money that a claim is worth, the more opportunity that the insurance company has to pay less than your child deserves.
Your minor’s attorney must be committed to taking on the insurance company, and that is exactly what we do at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
As a parent or guardian, you should hire an attorney for your child who you know will fight for them when necessary. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers has a track record of delivering results for our clients. You can talk to a lawyer today by sending us a message online or calling us at (800) 424-5757.
You do not owe our law firm any money for attorney’s fees unless we are able to help you win your case.