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Settling a Minor’s Personal Injury Claim

Injury childIn California, when a minor is injured because of another’s negligence, he or she may reach a settlement with the negligent party to recover compensation for the harm the minor has suffered. California law requires the court to approve any minor’s settlement agreement, with no exceptions, and no matter the size of the settlement.

Minor’s Compromise

The first step in obtaining court approval, once a settlement agreement has been reached, is filing a petition called a Minor’s Compromise. The petition, which is filed by the child’s guardian ad litem, is required to include information such as:

  • A description of the claim, the incident, and the resultant injuries;
  • All medical reports;
  • The amount and terms of the settlement;
  • An enumeration of all expenses and costs to be reimbursed out of the settlement money; and
  • A description of how the settlement money will be managed.

After the Minor’s Compromise is filed, there will be a minor’s compromise and release hearing in court to obtain the court’s approval of the settlement. In some cases, a minor may file an Expedited Minor’s Compromise, which has no requirement for a court appearance.

At the hearing, the court will approve the amount of the settlement if it can ensure that the minor is getting sufficient compensation for the harm he or she has suffered. Additionally, the court will approve the attorney’s fees and costs and approve all payments that must be made from the proceeds of the settlement, including the reimbursement of medical expenses. The court will also make an order instructing how the remaining share of the settlement that goes to the minor will be handled.

Minor’s Share

The court determines what happens to the remaining portion of the settlement proceeds left over after paying attorney’s fees, costs, medical bills, and other expenses. The court must ensure that the money will be used for the minor’s benefit until he or she turns 18. Generally, the court orders the money to be deposited in a blocked bank account, which means no one can withdraw any amount from the account without a court order.

Guardian ad Litem

A guardian ad litem is a person approved by the court who represents the child’s best interests in a personal injury suit. Often, a parent serves as the guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem has the power to agree to a settlement for the child, subject to court approval.

Unapproved Settlements

If the parties do not obtain court approval for their settlement agreement, the minor, upon reaching age 18, can bring his or her own lawsuit against the at-fault party for the injuries sustained in the original accident. Alternately, the child’s guardian ad litem can disaffirm the suit and start anew.

If your child has been injured in an accident caused by another’s negligence or recklessness, please call the dedicated San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. at (408) 289-1417 to schedule a consultation.

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