According to the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control, an estimated 9.2 million children received treatment in
emergency departments for an unintentional injury. These injuries were suffered
from incidents that included everything from falls, fires, burns, and drowning to
vehicle accidents. While most were non-life-threatening or relatively minor,
others were serious—and the result of negligence or recklessness by the party
who caused harm.
Filing a personal injury claim is a way to get compensation for someone injured in an accident through the fault of another. A settlement offer is made by the insurance company to the injured party to cover costs for medical treatment and other “special” damages, or those that can easily have a dollar amount put on them, such as loss of property or lost wages. However, when a minor is injured, things often get more complicated.
What is a minor settlement?
According to Texas law, a
minor is a child who is not yet 18 years of age or has not been legally
emancipated. As such, the minor is not yet old enough to enter into a contract
or a settlement with an insurance company. That’s where a minor settlement
hearing comes in. Often, and particularly where the settlement is going to be
large, the insurance company requests this to ensure that once a settlement is reached,
the insurance company is released from any additional liability.
The court’s concern is that
any settlement reached is in the best interests of the child and is there for
the benefit of the child. As your son’s or daughter’s parents (or guardian),
you bring the claim on behalf of your child and are named the “next friend of
the child.” To ensure that the child’s best interests are represented, the
court may appoint a guardian ad litem. If appointed, the ad litem has several
roles under Texas Civil Code 173.4: To “act as an officer and advisor to the
court,” which includes determining and advising the court “whether a party’s
next friend or guardian has an interest adverse to the party.”
Lastly, in order to ascertain
whether a settlement is fair to the child, the court may also hold a “minor
settlement prove-up hearing.” This is done to ensure that:
- The settlement amount is in line with the injuries and
damages the child has suffered
- Attorney fees are reasonable
- The child has received proper and thorough medical
treatment to avoid any undiscovered injuries not covered by the settlement
- The funds are secured in a court registry or an
annuity that is held until the child has reached the age of 18. The money does
not go to the parents.
Learn more about minor settlements from an experienced Texas personal
When your child is injured, the first thing on your mind is making sure they get the help they need. In addition to medical attention, make sure that you have the skilled legal guidance you deserve to ensure that the settlement is fair and in your child’s best interest. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, please contact our personal injury lawyers online or call us at (281) 645-5000.