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What is a Compromise of a Minor’s Claim in California?

Kids get injured in accidents too, and sometimes, their injuries are severe. If a personal injury case involving a minor settles, that minor isn’t legally competent to sign off on a compromise and settlement agreement until such time as he or she reaches 18 years of age. It’s for that reason and the best interests of minors that the California legislature has implemented specific procedures to be followed in the compromise of personal injury settlements involving minors.

The purpose the procedures is threefold.

  • First, California wants to be sure that the minor’s settlement is fair and equitable.
  • Then, a person will be appointed to assist the minor in monitoring his or her proceeds.
  • Finally, the state wants to be assured that when the time comes, victims who were underage the time of an accident receive the full balance of the proceeds due to them. California courts have seen too many cases involving parents squandering the proceeds of settlements involving injured children.

If you or a loved one is a minor with a personal injury settlement, contact us for a free consultation and we will explain your rights to you.

Settlements With Net Proceeds Under $5,000

If the net proceeds of a compromise and settlement involving injuries to a minor are less than $5,000, California judges ordinarily permit independent administration of those funds by a child’s custodial parent. Insurance companies don’t usually have a problem with this either. Regardless of the lack of any objections, courts are still required to approve any minor compromise no matter how small it might be.

Blocked Proceeds Accounts

If the net proceeds to be derived by the minor are $5,000 or more, those funds are typically deposited into what is known as a blocked bank account pursuant to Cal. Prob. Code section 3611(b). Once such an account is established, withdrawals can only be made pursuant to court order until such time as the minor reaches the age of 18. Parents and any attorney involved in an approved settlement have 30 days thereafter to file documentation with the court evidencing the deposit of net proceeds into the account.

Who Can Participate in Settlement of a Minor’s Settlement?

Only a custodial parent of a minor can participate in the child’s settlement of a personal injury claim, commonly called a petition to approve a minor’s compromise. If a child resides with both of his or her parents, either of those individuals can bring the petition. In a small minority of cases, a guardian or guardian ad litem might bring it. Most California counties have their own forms for this purpose. 

Procedure Before Settlement of a Minor’s Injury Claim

The insurer of the party who caused the child’s accident and injuries will likely forward a release for signature the custodial parent(s). They shouldn’t sign it just yet. A copy of the release should be attached to the petition for approval. Your presiding judge might even ask you to sign the original of the release in his or her presence. When you return your signed release to the insurer, forward a copy of the court’s order approving the settlement too. 

Contact a California Compromise of a Minor’s Claim Lawyer Today

We recommend retaining a dedicated and qualified California personal injury lawyer in any personal injury case, especially when a child is the victim. Without proper counsel and representation, there are likely to be issues that go unrecognized until such time as somebody seeks approval of a minor’s compromise. If you’re the parent or guardian of a minor child who was injured in an accident as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else anywhere in California, contact us here at Maison Law for a free consultation and case review as soon as possible. We’ll be pleased to speak with you about the legal options available for helping you and your child. If we’re retained to represent you, no advance legal fees are even due.

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