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Shapiro & Appleton

Virginia/Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers: Information About Personal Injury Claims/Settlements For Children, Minors, Teenagers

Children under the age of 18 (considered “minors” and including teenagers under 18) are generally considered to be legally incapable of entering into binding contracts and consequently the settlement of personal injury actions involving children are subject  to court/judge approval and supervision of the disbursement of the settlement proceeds, whether the claim arises in Virginia (VA), North Carolina (NC) or any other nearby state.

Typically a parent or
guardian will bring a personal injury action (or wrongful death action) on behalf of their child/minor injured by the negligence of another person or car driver.  Settlement negotiations are conducted on behalf of the child/minor by their personal injury lawyer, with the participation of a parent or guardian.  If the parties agree on the terms of a settlement of the minor’s/child’s injury claim, a hearing is set with a court to review the terms of the settlement.  A court will usually appoint an independent attorney to review the terms of the injury or death settlement on behalf of the child and report to the court.  The independent attorney is typically referred to as a “guardian ad litem.”  In the standard personal injury case, the guardian ad litem will meet with the child and parents to insure there is a complete understanding of the terms of the settlement.  The guardian ad litem may also review relevant information on the injury damages the child suffered such as medical records, bills or photographs of any scars to insure all factors have been reasonably considered in the settlement.

If the court finds the settlement reasonable and approves the terms, it must then make arrangements for the payment or use of the funds in a manner which best serves the interest of the child.  Once again, while there is variation among the jurisdictions of the specifics of handling infant settlement recoveries/proceeds, however, courts tend to follow a pretty uniform procedure.  Courts may order the proceeds be paid to the Clerk of the Court to be held on behalf of the child in an
interest bearing account until the child reaches 18, but many states now allow a safe investment to be overseen by a trustee.  The Court may also order the payment be made to a parent or guardian of the child to be held in trust until the child reaches 18.  Depending upon the amount paid to a parent or guardian on behalf of a child, the court may order the parent or guardian to qualify as a trustee in the clerk’s office and file an annual accounting and inventory with the court.  The court may also approve payments made to a child in the future (as in a structured settlement).  In these instances, courts will often require the annuity company be one authorized to do business in the state and have a high rating applicable to insurance companies.

Settlements involving children/minor or infants involve a large spectrum of situations.  We are typically involved in claims on behalf of children who are injured while passengers in car or truck accidents or wrongful deaths, but many other types of cases can arise.  While the laws governing infant settlements may seem to be burdensome, the one constant we have encountered is that courts and guardians at litem are concerned about the welfare and future of injured children/minors and these rules work well to maximize the benefits of personal injury and wrongful death settlements for children.

Shapiro & Appleton& Duffan personal injury law firm is based in Virginia practicing primarily in the southeastern U.S. and handles only injury law, including car, truck, railroad, and medical negligence cases and more.  The firm's website is: hsinjurylaw.com, the firm edits two injury law blogs:  Virginia Beach Injuryboard & Norfolk Injuryboard, and also hosts a video library covering many FAQ’s on personal injury subjects.

Randy E. Appleton
Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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