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Injuries to Children

As a parent I understand the concerns that arise when a child is injured.  Any child under age 18 is considered a minor.  Certain special rules and concerns come into play in the handling of minor's injury claims.

Types of Injuries

The types and causes of injuries to children are diverse.  Automobile collisions, playground accidents, dog bites, burns and mishaps with toys and recreational equipment are but a few of the most common causes of injuries to children.  Children are also injured in medical negligence scenarios; these incidents often occur during the birthing process.

Handling a Minor's Claim

The three areas that distinguish a minor's case from that of an adult are (1) The need to wait until the injury has resolved or stabilized; (2) the necessity of court approval to settle or compromise the child's claim; and (3) the manner in which money damages are handled and ultimately dispersed.

(1)  Many injuries to children involve scars or fractures to bones.  In these cases it is often difficult to evaluate the injury until an appropriate amount of time has passed.  In almost all cases a medical report needs to be obtained that addresses the particular nature of the injury, the most likely future medical treatment course and the most probable medical outcome of 
the injury.  

(2)  In California, no minor's claim in excess of $5,000.00 can be settled without court approval.  Settlement of a minor's claim involves the filing of a Petition to Compromise and the scheduling of a Minor's Compromise Hearing with the appropriate court at which time the injured minor, the Guardian ad Litem and the representing attorney, if any, appear before 
the court.

Once court approval is obtained the Guardian ad Litem has authority to sign all documents necessary to the closing of the minor's claim.

(3)  In California, no minor may have access to any settlement monies until age 18.  Under most circumstances the courts will not allow any parent or Guardian ad Litem access to the minor's funds at any time for any purpose.

California courts only approve settlements that protect a minor's settlement monies.  Settlement monies are generally placed in "locked" or "blocked" bank accounts or in a "structured settlement" which is a single premium insurance annuity contract that guarantees future payouts in accordance with a payout schedule chosen by the minor's parent(s) or Guardian ad Litem.

Please contact me if you have any questions specific to a minor's claim.  I look forward to talking with you and answering your questions.  

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