When a child is injured due to a car accident or negligence on someone else’s part, it can be a tricky situation to settle or litigate because they are not yet 18 years of age. These cases require an attorney who is knowledgeable about the special procedural requirements in cases that involve children. Minors in Florida cannot pursue their own personal injury claims because they are not of the legal age to do so. That means that a parent or legal guardian must pursue the case on the behalf of their child. And in some cases, parents must obtain court approval regarding settlement agreements when a minor is involved because Florida law requires it. The law is intended to protect the interests of the child by providing judicial oversight.
When Can a Parent Settle a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Child?
Florida statutes allow parents or guardians to settle a personal injury claim on their minor child’s behalf without approval from the court when the settlement amount does not exceed $15,000. However, when it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit (if the claim isn’t settled by insurance companies), court approval is required. Additionally, some insurance companies will require that court approval is given prior to making any payments on a settlement on behalf of a minor.
If the settlement that is reached is over $15,000, then the parent or guardian is required to seek court approval by filing a Petition for Approval of Settlement. This petition includes the details of the facts of the case, issues of liability, a number of damages, the amount of the settlement being sought, and lawyer’s costs and fees. The judge then reviews the terms of the settlement to determine if they are in the child’s best interest. It’s important to understand that the law requires that the parents or guardians of the child also act in the best interests of the minor, and the judge will make sure that they are complying with that requirement.
How is the Settlement for a Minor Distributed?
Just as there are special requirements for filing and settling a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor, there are also special procedures for the distribution of monetary settlements when they are awarded to a minor.
If the net amount of the settlement (after attorney’s fees are paid) is $15,000 or less, the process is usually simple. The judge will typically have the funds distributed to the parents so they can be used for the best interest of the child. However, when the net amount is over $15,000, it’s required that a formal guardianship is set up to safeguard the funds for the child. In this type of situation, once the judge approves the settlement amount, the money is placed in a restricted annuity or bank account which can only be accessed by court order. The court will then use its discretion when allowing funds to be withdrawn based on the necessity and the reason for the withdrawal. Usually, when the funds are used for housing, education, or medical care, the court will approve the transactions, however, that can depend on each specific case.
Get the Right Help for Your Child’s Personal Injury Case
If your child has suffered an injury in an accident that was someone else’s fault, he or she may be entitled to compensation for injuries. Settlements that are pursued minors can be complex, which is why you need to find the right personal injury attorney to handle your child’s case. Contact Boca Raton personal injury lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 296-2600 or complete the online contact form to get the ball rolling in your child’s case. He will ensure that your child’s rights are protected and help him or she obtains compensation for the injuries suffered.