Kids are going to get injured, that’s just part of life. But if your child is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or actions, you have the right to collect compensation for your child’s injuries. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how the process is handled in Minnesota, and what you should do in the event your child is injured because of someone else’s actions.
Collecting Compensation On Behalf Of A Child
An injury case involving a minor is a little bit different than a standard injury case, because while the minor is the focus of the case, it’s the parents who are footing the medical bills and the expenses related to the accident. In other words, we need to make sure both the parents and the child are taken care of while we’re in the process of pursuing a claim.
Children – When pursuing compensation on behalf of a child, a lawyer takes into account a number of different factors that affect or will affect the child. For example, the lawyer will work to put a number to things like pain and suffering, future medical and care expenses, and any lingering side effects associated with the physical or mental trauma. Putting together an accurate figure can be a complex process, which is why it’s so important to trust the process to a lawyer.
Parents – While the child is the one who suffered the injury, it’s the parents who are legally on the hook for medical expenses and other costs they incur as a result of the accident. A good injury lawyer will also work closely with the parents to see how they have been financially and otherwise impacted by their child’s injuries. Aside from being compensated for current and future medical costs, they can also recoup things like travel expenses that are incurred traveling to and from appointments and injury-related therapy sessions.
Assuming all goes as planned throughout the process and your lawyer can reach a settlement that you’re happy with, you’ll sign off on the agreement, but that doesn’t mean the case is over. Because the matter centers around a child, a judge will have to verify that the settlement is fair for the child. This is known as a Minor Settlement Approval Hearing. In most instances, the parent or guardian and the child are required to show up to this hearing alongside their lawyer. The lawyer and judge will ask a few questions about the case and the settlement, and after the judge reviews all the facts, they’ll likely sign off on the settlement.
But again, that doesn’t mean you can expect a lump sum to just arrive in your bank account to be divided as your please. While the expenses you incur as a parent or guardian will be taken into account, since it’s the child that suffered the injuries, any money that is awarded to the child will typically be placed in holding until the child reaches the age of 18. The court may grant partial or full access to this settlement if there is a clear benefit for the child, but otherwise it is typically set aside in a bank deposit or guaranteed annuity that cannot be withdrawn until the child reaches the age of 18.
Finally, as the parent or guardian, you have some control over how your child gains access to this money once they turn 18. Obviously there could be some problems if a teenager comes into a windfall on their 18th birthday, but at the same time, you can’t dictate that the money has to be used for specific expenses. However, you and your personal injury lawyer may be able to set up a structured settlement so that your child has a steady income instead of a lump sum that could be used irresponsibly. For example, you may be able to set it up so that your child receives $5,000 a year for 10 years once they turn 18 instead of $50,000 all at once. These structured settlements typically aren’t adjustable after they’ve been developed and given approval, so consult with your lawyer if you are concerned about how your child will have access to money down the road.
If your child has been injured and you’re considering filing a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf, reach out to the experienced legal minds at Margolis Law Firm. We’ve helped children and their families collect what they are owed, and we can do the same for you. For more information, or for answers to any questions you might have, give Dean and his team a call today.