As parents, you carry the responsibility of providing for a good life for your children. As parents, you carry the responsibility of providing a good life for your children. Apart from finding gainful employment or other sources of regular income, you might have also sought out life insurance plans that can pay for your medical expenses in case you get sick, or give your children a substantial payout upon your death.
It would be your children who’ll be talking to our Los Angeles life insurance lawyers many years down the road in an ideal world. They’ll take charge of claiming life insurance benefits on your behalf, like care services during your senior years. Unexpected events can happen, however. Instead of your grown children talking to your insurers about life insurance benefits, you might have to meet up with personal injury attorneys to seek compensation for an accident involving your child.
Act as the Guardian Ad Litem
In California, minors do not have the legal capacity to sign or enter into a contract until they turn 18 years old. The court also treats child injury claims and cases differently from those involving adults. Through the eyes of the law, minors cannot independently decide settlements, defend themselves from older and wiser people who may take advantage of them, and speak for themselves in court.
For personal injury cases involving minors, the courts appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) who’s expected to act with the minor’s best interests in mind. The GAL can be a parent or adult relative of the child, and must not be directly involved in the lawsuit. The GAL also won’t have legal rights to the financial settlements or reparations that the child is meant to receive.
If you want to avoid the cost and stress of a lawsuit, you can try to settle with the insurers at a compromise hearing.
Parents, guardians, or the appointed GAL must file a settlement agreement to petition the court to approve a minor’s compromise (only the GAL can file this petition if a class action or lawsuit has been filed). The state mandates that a California court approves all settlements made on behalf of a minor, including for personal injury.
If all parties have agreed on the settlement terms, you may sign the papers on behalf of your child. Again, the law doesn’t allow minors to sign legally binding agreements.
The following conditions for the signatories also apply:
- Either parent may sign a settlement on behalf of a minor child if both live with the child.
- In the case of separated parents, only the custodial parent may sign the settlement agreement.
- A legal guardian or GAL may also sign on the minor’s behalf.
If the child has a legal guardian of the estate, they may petition the court to transfer the settlement funds to the child’s trust via a custodian, trustee, or a trusted financial institution.
Receipt of the Settlement
The law only allows the transfer of the settlement funds when the minor turns 21 years old. The California Probate Court typically enables parents and guardians to manage settlements that are less than $5,000. If the settlement is significantly substantial, however, the court could order that the mount be given in structured payments that the child will receive at a specific age (e.g., the first payout at 21, second payout at 25, third payout at 30).
What if your child needs medical treatment now? You may request that the court issue an order to release the funds necessary for treatment and recovery.
Statute of Limitations for Class Actions
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in California is two years. For minors, the two-year limit starts after they turn 18. This extension is meant to give young people the chance to press charges against people who’ve harmed them in the past, and file claims for personal injuries they sustained as minors.
Given the nature of personal injuries and the importance of accurate medical data and police reports, it’s crucial for personal injury claims and lawsuits involving minors to be filed as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the statute of limitations to nearly expire before acting. You could lose any credible evidence by then.
If you’re looking for capable and fearless personal injury attorneys to handle insurance claims or class actions for your child, Haffner Law is here for you.
Call us at 213-514-5681 and talk to our attorneys today.
(This is an attorney advertisement by Joshua Haffner)