Seeking Personal Injury Awards for a Minor
Accidents caused by negligence are a leading cause of trauma and financial loss for adults across the country. However, it is not just adults who suffer. Children can also be victims of negligence, and if their injuries were caused by another person or party, they have the same legal right as adult to pursue financial compensation for damages.
When seeking personal injury awards for minors, the legal process is a little different. The Irvine, CA-based personal injury attorneys from Burke Argos go over the typical procedure for filing a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor.
Who Can File a Personal Injury Claim?
In most states, a minor is defined as any individual under the age of 18. Under the law, minors are not able to file a legal claim or enter into a legal contract. This raises an important question: “Who can file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a minor?”
In California, if a minor is injured in an accident that was caused by another person or party, then a parent, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem (a person appointed by the court to look out for the child’s best interest) must negotiate with the liable party on the minor’s behalf, or file a personal injury claim on their behalf.
Do I Need an Attorney as a Minor’s Guardian?
Legally speaking, parents or guardians do not need an attorney to negotiate on behalf of an injured minor. However, as is true of personal injury cases involving adults, liability laws and compensation rights are complex, perhaps even more so when minors are involved. Having an attorney on your side is a sensible move.
The knowledge and expertise of the personal injury attorneys at Burke Argos can prove invaluable to our Irvine clients. In most cases, injury victims who have professional legal representation collect significantly higher awards than those who choose to negotiate themselves.
Accepting a Settlement on Behalf of a Minor
Many personal injury claims are resolved through a pre-trial settlement, meaning that there is no court trial. When adult injury victims reach a settlement, they sign the settlement agreement and the case is considered closed.
When minors are involved, the process is a little different. If a parent or guardian is accepting a settlement on behalf of a minor, they typically require approval from a judge. To get a judge’s approval, a petition must be filed with the court. The petition includes details such as:
- The child’s name and age
- The name of the guardian filing on behalf of the minor
- A description of the claim and resulting injuries
- Copies of medical reports
- The amount of the settlement
- Plans for how personal injury awards will be managed
Our attorneys can get a petition filed for our clients so that any settlement offer is approved as quickly as possible.
How Are Settlement Funds Distributed?
When minors receive personal injury awards, it is very important that the funds are handled properly. A portion of the awards will be distributed to the minor’s parents. These awards will be equal to the amount of financial losses suffered by the parents to cover expenses like medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages as a result of caring for the child.
After expenses are paid, any remaining settlement awards should be set aside and protected until the child reaches the age of 18. In most cases, the minor’s portion of settlement awards are distributed to a trust fund or protected bank account, where the parents do not have access.
Contact Our Law Firm
To find out how the Irvine personal injury attorneys at Burke Argos can assist your child in a lawsuit, contact us online at your earliest convenience, or call our practice at (949) 644-3434.