Mesa AZ | Personal Injury attorney Brian T. Allen offers an answer to the question:
Q: Are personal injury claims of minors handled differently from injury claims of adults?
A: The biggest difference in handing a minor’s injury claim comes at the time of settlement. Except in claims involving very small settlement amounts, defendants and their insurers will usually require that the court appoint a conservator to act on behalf of the minor. A conservator is appointed by the court after a petition is filed and a hearing is held. Usually the conservator is one of the parents of the minor because the parents have statutory preference. However, it can be another family member or even a professional fiduciary if the parents either do not want the appointment or are unable to serve. Once the conservator is appointed, the court will then determine if the proposed settlement is in the best interest of the minor. The court does this by reviewing the total amount of the settlement and the injuries involved. The court will also review the attorney fees and other expenses that are proposed to be paid out of the settlement.
Once the settlement funds are received, the court will typically require that all the minor’s funds be deposited in a court-restricted conservatorship account with a FDIC insured bank. The restricted funds remain in the conservatorship account unless the court approves a specific disbursement. After the minor turns 18, the conservator will need to file a petition with the court to terminate the conservatorship. There will be a brief hearing on the matter and the court restriction will be lifted from the account, allowing the funds will become available to the minor to spend in his or her discretion. The conservatorship termination hearing is a very simple process that can be done without a lawyer by using the probate forms available on the superior court website.
Minors’ settlement funds can also be used to purchase what is often called an annuity or structured settlement. Structured settlements provide a great deal of flexibility on how the funds can be disbursed to the minor as well as the added benefit of allowing for some control over disbursement of the funds after the minor’s 18th birthday. They can also provide what amounts to tax-free gain on the original settlement investment.
If you or someone you know has a question about a minor’s personal injury claim, call Mesa AZ Personal Injury Attorney Brian Allen at (480) 461-5335 or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options.
This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not create and attorney-client relationship and should not be construed as legal advice.