Settling a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child...

by Anonymous
(Laramie, Wyoming)

My son was a passenger in a car that was hit by a school bus. The driver of the car he was riding in was found to be at fault. My son sustained broken ribs and lacerations on his head and face. The insurance company says that there is no easy way to settle this until my son turns 18 in 2 months.

Is that true? How do I get permission from the courts to settle this personal injury claim on his behalf?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Settling a Personal Injury Claim on Behalf of a Child...":

It sounds like your insurance company is giving you excellent advice.

From the facts you present they are probably suggesting that to finalize a settlement at this point (just short of 2 months of your son becoming an adult) will take an inordinate amount of time and expense.

If your son is still under the age of 18 the insurance company cannot legally give you your son’s money unless it is in the form of a court approved trust. The insurance company would have to file what is commonly referred to as a “friendly lawsuit” (where almost all the parties have already agreed to the issues before the court). Once the suit is filed there will have to be a court hearing. At that hearing the Judge will appoint an attorney who will serve as your son’s Guardian ad Litem.

A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney the judge chooses whose only job is to protect the best interests of a minor. The Guardian ad Litem’s legal fees are often paid out of the settlement funds which will serve to automatically lower the net amount of your son's settlement.

The Guardian ad Litem, after investigating the child’s circumstances will file a report with the judge possibly recommending the money not be given to your son until he turns anywhere from 18 to about 30 years old. If you disagree you will have to testify in court to convince the Judge otherwise.

The Judge will most probably deny your request and set up a trust fund where the money will be held until your son reaches 18 years or older, depending on the Judge. Many Judges like to set the money release date when the minor turns 25.

If you can wait another two months the money will be given to your son. It will be done without any court intervention. That’s a heck of a lot better than taking a chance with a Judge.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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