When a minor is injured in an accident it is treated slightly different than that of an adult for various reasons. First, you have to make sure that there is no conflict of interest between the parents and the child. Second, because the child’s body may not have formed completely yet, the injury may have long term effects that do not present themselves immediately. Thus, you have to make an informed decision about what funds will be needed in the future for things like medical expenses and loss of earning capacity.
For those reasons, settling a car accident for a child is different. Here are 5 ways that it is different:
- A child cannot sign a contract and therefore, cannot settle their own case while a minor. The claim must be brought by the parents on the child’s behalf.
- If, for some reason, the parents fail to bring the claim before the child turns 18, the 2 year statute of limitations starts when the child turns 18.
- Some insurance companies choose to have the settlement go through the courts for the limited purpose of getting the settlement approved by the court.
- If the settlement goes through the court, the child is appointed their own lawyer called a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem is tasked with making sure that the settlement offer is in the child’s best interest.
The guardian ad litem will investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury and make sure that the amount of money being offered is fair and covers any future consequences of the injury.
- If the child is receiving a large amount of money, the guardian ad litem will usually recommend a structured settlement that places the funds in an annuity until the child’s 18th birthday . The money will be disbursed in increments over time rather than giving the child a big lump sum that they are not mature enough to handle.