At times, I have had to file a lawsuit in order for my child client to obtain fair compensation in the form of a settlement. One example was just prior to the actual jury trial date in one case in which I was representing an eight-year-old girl for bodily injuries, and I was in a “settlement conference” with the judge, the defense attorney, and the guardian ad litem (a parent). We were able to secure a fair and just settlement offer from the defense attorney, and the judge immediately approved the settlement value of my child’s injury case. The only thing I had to do was formally file the petition for approval (even though the judge approved the settlement amount [value] on the record), which the judge then approved. Remember, the petition contains all the details of costs, attorney’s fees, medical bills, and reductions to medical bills. All of that still has to be approved, even though the settlement value was agreed to on the court record after a lawsuit was filed. Thus, under California law, there is no final settlement without court approval. Technically, absent court approval, the settlement is voidable by the guardian ad litem (or conservator) prior to approval.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer