In nearly every state, a minor is defined as any individual under the age of 18. Minors are legally unable to file personal injury claims on their own behalf. It is up to the minor’s parent or guardian to file a claim for them.
A child (minor) is entitled to the same legal rights as an adult with respect to personal injury claims and civil suits. A minor has an equal right to compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, and permanent disability in the same way, and for the same amounts, as an adult injured in an accident.
Once a settlement is reached on a minor’s claim, in most states, the settlement needs to be approved by a judge. The lawyer representing the child will petition the court for approval, and if the judge agrees that the settlement is proper and in the best interest of the child, he or she will sign off on the settlement.
Typically, the judge will direct that the child’s settlement proceeds be deposited into a bank account until the child reaches the age of majority. At that point, the money will become the sole property of the former minor. It is not, nor will it ever be, the property of the parent or guardian.
While the child’s money is securely deposited in an account, the parent cannot touch the money. However, there are ways for the parent to petition the court for access to the money. This is often based on a showing that the withdrawal is necessary to meet parental expenses over and above the ordinary ones of parental obligations, such as unusual medical costs. After all, the money is the child’s money. Parents have the obligation to spend money to raise their children and the courts will generally not allow the parents to use their children’s personal injury awards to cover the ordinary expenses of raising a child.
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