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Texas Procedures for Injury Settlements that Involve Minors

Texas injury claims for minors

 

There is not much more difficult for a parent then dealing with an injury to their child. All of us with children have made the trip to the emergency room when an unfortunate accident occurred. Children get hurt but it is extremely difficult to accept when some third-party through their negligence injures your child. We have been protecting the rights of children after an injury accident for over three decades. This article is to cover the basics of a personal injury claim of a minor in Texas.

NEXT FRIEND

Personal injury claims of children under the age of 18 within the state of Texas are handled differently from personal injury cases of an adult. Because a minor does not have legal capacity to sue or be sued, the personal injury litigation comes in the form of an adult “standing in” for the injured minor as “next friend”. Usually this is one or more of the parents of the injured child. However, anyone may stand in as a “next friend” for an injured child if a parent is unable to do so.

SETTLEMENTS

If the personal injury claim of a minor is settled, the defendant’s counsel usually requires that a hearing takes place in front of the judge in the court where the lawsuit is filed. The court will appoint an attorney to represent the interests of the minor. That lawyer is called an “ad litem” and advises the judge whether this settlement terms are in the best interest of the minor. The defendant customarily pays the cost of the attorney to represent the minor’s interests at the hearing. This an “ad litem” and is in addition to the attorney who handled the case on behalf of the injured minor and the family. A court hearing is where the judge approves the decisions made on behalf of the child. This includes the settlement and the determination of how the funds will be kept for the minor. Everyone should already agree as to the decisions and the entire hearing will thus only take a few minutes. Testimony will be taken so there is a complete record of the case. Your attorney will review the questions before the hearing so that you are prepared. Once the judge approves the settlement, all parties will sign the release document.

THE MONEY

When a personal injury claim of a minor is funded and usually takes one of two forms. Either the money is placed in the registry of the court to be paid to the minor when the minor turns 18, or the settlement funds are used to purchase an insurance policy called an annuity which can be paid out at various times after the child becomes of age. Parents can have substantial input on whether the money is placed in the register the court or an annuity insurance policy is purchased. Annuities have the benefit of being more flexible and payments and do not usually completely fund the money when the minor turns 18.

Based on our three decades of experience as a daycare negligence lawyer, minors are usually not very good at shepherding their money when they are still teenagers. For this reason, many people choose the annuity route that allows a longer payout after the children become more experienced. Some annuities are set up to fund college and provide for monthly payments during the college years. Others can be set up to pay when the child gets older such as when the child is at age 30 or even 40 years old. For larger settlements, it is not uncommon that the benefits become lifetime benefits at specific stages of life.

What About Parents?

One area of concern for a lot of parents is what about their individual damages when their child is injured (missed work etc.) Courts in Texas seem to look at the obligation of a parent as one that comes with the territory. Many courts are reluctant to even reimburse the parents for out-of-pocket medical expenses from a child’s settlement. However, how the money is handled is up to the judge in the case. But liens such as a hospital lien, usually must be paid out of any settlement proceeds.

In short, the settlement funds for an injured minor in the state of Texas will generally belong to the minor and not the parent and the court takes great effort to protect the child’s interest.

Speak with a Houston Child Injury Lawyer

If your child has been seriously injured in an accident that was caused by another such as a car accident, daycare injury or other accident, you should consider contacting an experienced child injury lawyer as soon as possible after the event.

It is also important to document the injuries during the recovery process by photographs or video. Early investigation can sometimes pay dividends when conduct of a third-party are in question regarding causing an accident.

Our daycare accident attorneys have protected the rights of injured children for over 35 years. Let us help your family!

Call (281) 587-1111    Never a fee unless we win your case.