My name is Paula McCandlis and I’m an attorney and partner with the law firm of Brett Murphy.
I know that children are highly likely to be injured, seriously disabled or killed in an accident. At my firm we’ve seen children who have been in car accidents, bike accidents, swimming pool accidents, children who swallowed harmful items, and sadly gun accidents.
A child’s case is different than an adult. Typically, an adult has three years from the date of their accident to file a claim. A child has three years from their eighteenth birthday to file their claim. This is called statute of limitations and it would end on their twenty first birthday.
You don’t want to wait to file your claim; evidence gets lost, witnesses forget what they saw, it’s important to build the case now. So when a case is settled prior to a child turning eighteen, there are special rules that apply.
First, a guardian is appointed to file the case on behalf of the child. Typically the guardian is a parent. Sometimes there can be a conflict of interest if there is a claim in which the parent maybe partially at fault for the accident. In those cases I go to court and I ask the court to appoint a guardian on behalf of the child.
Second, the court must approve the settlement. The court appoints what is called a settlement guardian ad litem (SGAL). A SGAL is an investigator, typically an attorney with personal injury experience, who reviews the file and makes sure that the settlement is fair and reasonable, and the attorney’s fees are fair and reasonable.
Finally, the settlement needs to be protected and invested for that child for when they turn eighteen. This can be done by placing the funds into a blocked account or placing the money into an account that the child can access either on their eighteenth, twenty-fifth, or thirtieth birthday.
The court reviews the SGAL’s report, the court reviews the facts of the case and the court signs off on the settlement.
I’m also a parent; I have a child who I spend a great deal of time worrying about. I know as a parent that we feel responsible for things that happen to our children even when we’re no way at fault for what’s happened. What can be upsetting and surprising to parents when they speak to an insurance company, is that while the adjuster on the phone can be professional and polite, they’re simply gathering information, in evidence, to either deny the claim or seriously undervalue the claim.
Do not let your child’s case be denied or undervalued. If you have any questions you can call me, we offer free no obligation consultation.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Brett Murphy today by calling 1-800-925-1875 or by completing a confidential contact form.