Texas Procedures for Settlements that Involve Minors
Written by Greg on May 23, 2019
Accidents can happen to anyone and when they do, the negligent party is responsible. There are some ways that injury cases are treated differently for minor children than for adults. If your child was injured in an accident like a car wreck that was due to someone’s negligence, you need to be aware of how to handle the settlement process.
Settlement Hearing for a Minor
A minor is any person under the age of 18. Minors cannot enter into contracts or settlements with an insurance company since they are not of legal age to do so. A hearing in front of a judge is necessary in settlements with minors. The hearing allows parties to provide evidence in the case. The judge will ultimately make a decision that is in the best interest of the child. Generally, most large cases must go through a hearing process that will facilitate a settlement that will ultimately be approved by the court.
What is an Attorney Ad Litem?
Minors are not legally capable of making important decisions about their cases. Therefore, an attorney ad litem may be appointed. The attorney ad litem is a lawyer who works on behalf of the child. The attorney will review all of the documentation and information in the case including the child’s medical records and bills, accident report and settlement details. The attorney will review the proposed settlement amount and determine whether he or she feels it is an appropriate and fair amount.
Settlements for Minors
The insurance company will usually provide the victim with a settlement offer. This is the amount they are willing to pay for the entirety of the injury. Once a settlement is accepted, there will be no further legal action allowed. Therefore, it is essential that the settlement includes compensation for all of the current and future expenses incurred due to the injury. It is important to note that the insurance company often offers a first settlement that may be too low to cover the associated expenses. An attorney will negotiate a settlement that is fair for the victim, in this case, the minor child.
Registry of the Court
When a minor receives a settlement for an injury it must be used only for the child’s benefit. Parents are not allowed to use the funds for any other reason other than for the child’s injury. Money can be placed into the registry of the court for safekeeping. When placed into this account, the money will accrue interest and will remain safe until the child reaches maturity at the age of 18. Another alternative is to place the funds into a court-approved annuity account. There are some risks involved in annuities, so it is important to get financial guidance before choosing this option. It is essential that you choose a payment plan that will be best for your child.
Generally, the larger the settlement the more likely the money will be placed in an annuity given the higher returns and control over the payout.
The 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 be in agreement 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 document.
Contact Baumgartner Law Firm to discuss the details of the case in a free initial consultation.
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