Minors have no say over legal matters due to their age. While in many cases, this means parents are responsible for making decisions, the court will often step in and make sure a child’s best interest is protected when it comes to settling a personal injury case. This can add time and expense onto a case, which is why it’s important for parents to understand how this process works.
Parents are supposed to protect their children, which is why they will typically work with an experienced personal injury attorney to handle their child’s case. However, sometimes the dollar signs can cloud judgment and parents make decisions that aren’t particularly in the best interest of their injured child. Requiring approval from the court prior to accepting a settlement will ensure a neutral third party is looking at it from the child’s perspective, providing an additional layer of protection to ensure a child is compensated appropriately for the injuries they have suffered.
Once a settlement has been reached, the courts require the funds received in the settlement are placed into a conservatorship so they will be used for the child’s needs. Even parents with the best intentions can make mistakes that lead to using the money in a way it shouldn’t be. This process works by naming a conservator to take control of the settlement funds. In many cases, this money is placed into a high-interest bearing account so it can grow and the child will have the finances needed to maintain a good quality of life as they go through their lives. If the money isn’t required immediately, it’s best to leave it to gain interest. However, if the parents do need assistance with bills and other costs directly associated with the injury, the conservator can withdraw the funds as needed. This money cannot be used for clothing, food or shelter because these are considered basic needs every parent should provide.
Anyone can be named conservator over a personal injury settlement. When the settlement is on the lower end, the parents are typically named as conservators because there is little risk of abusing the money. However, when a larger sum is obtained, it is often wise to choose an outside party who has nothing to gain personally by controlling the money. In these situations, the conservator must be bonded and will be required to check in with the courts on a regular basis to ensure the money is managed properly. Any conservator must be approved by the court.
No one wants to see their child injured, especially when someone else is at fault. However, if this does occur, it’s important to understand how these settlements work so you can more easily navigate through the case and get the compensation your child deserves.