If your minor child suffered injuries in a car, pedestrian, bike, or other personal injury accident caused by another’s negligence, you'll need to pursue their claim for them and follow special procedures under California law to get the settlement of their claim approved by the court. This will most likely involve attending a court hearing. Here's what you can expect to happen at that hearing.
Filing a Petition for Court Approval of a Minor’s Settlement
A petition to approve the compromise of a disputed claim must be filed. If the settlement was reached out of court, the petitioner can be the child’s parent, guardian, or guardian ad litem.
However, the petition must be filed by the guardian ad litem appointed by the court to represent the minor child if a personal injury lawsuit is filed.
Who Must Attend the Court Hearing?
In most cases, the minor child and the guardian ad litem are required to attend the court hearing. If a parent or guardian filed the petition to compromise the child’s claim to protect the minor's rights, they should also attend the hearing.
What to Expect at the Court Hearing to Approve a Minor’s Settlement
Once the petition to have the settlement approved is filed, the court schedules a hearing. In limited circumstances, an expedited hearing can be set to approve the settlement faster.
At the hearing, the judge or the petitioner’s attorney questions the guardian ad litem about the minor’s condition, the terms of the settlement, and the guardian ad litem’s involvement in settlement negotiations. The judge could also ask follow-up questions about specific terms of the agreement and where the proceeds will be held.
In deciding whether to approve the petition, the court considers these factors:
- Amount of money included in the settlement
- Severity of the child’s injuries and whether they're permanent
- Amount of attorney fees and other costs to be paid out of the settlement
- How the proceeds will be held
In California, settlement proceeds for a minor can only be held in certain restricted accounts, such as a blocked account, that requires court approval for the release of any funds. If the judge approves the settlement, they'll have specific requirements as to how the funds must be held and what they can be spent on.
If your child suffered injuries in a personal injury accident, you need a skilled child injury lawyer to fight for the compensation they deserve and obtain court approval of their settlement. To learn how I can assist you, call my San Diego office to schedule a free consultation today.