Court Approval for Settlement of a Minor’s Personal Injury Claim
Some states, including Colorado, require that claims for personal injury (including injuries caused by medical malpractice) settled on behalf of a minor be approved by the Court if they exceed a threshold amount. Additionally, sometimes the court will require a responsible adult to be appointed as a “conservator” to watch over and protect the child’s settlement funds from waste or inappropriate use.
At Burg Simpson, we do handle the court approval process as part of our minor clients’ claims, but plaintiffs should be aware that these tasks are separate from the pursuit of the underlying lawsuit for the minor’s injuries. This means that, if you’re represented by counsel from another law firm, obtaining court approval of your child’s case or having a conservator appointed may not be part of the work your attorney intends to perform for you.
Since your child’s case might require these additional steps to be completed after a settlement agreement is reached, you will want to know at the outset whether or not the attorney you hire to handle the underlying injury claim can also assist you with the additional proceedings required after a potential settlement.
Thus, when choosing counsel to represent your injured child in a claim for physical injuries, here are a few questions you need to ask:
- Will a settlement on my child’s claim require court approval and/or the appointment of a conservator?
- If so, are these tasks included in the work you intend to do for my child?
- Is the value of my child’s claim likely to be above the threshold for requiring the appointment of a conservator to manage my child’s settlement funds?
- What are the requirements for a conservator? Can I be my child’s conservator?
- Will I (or my child) be charged additional money for the additional service of obtaining court approval of the settlement or petitioning for appointment of a conservator?
- Have you successfully obtained court approval of a minor’s personal injury settlement in the past?
- Do you have experience in petitioning for the appointment of a conservator?
- How long does it take to obtain court approval?
- What involvement will the court and/or court-appointed conservator have in the continuing management of my child’s settlement proceeds?
Choosing an attorney is an important task for anyone who has a claim for medical negligence or personal injury–but it is especially important when you are making the choice on behalf of someone else, such as a minor child, who relies on you to ensure that their interests will be protected. Asking the right questions of your lawyer will help to prevent surprises and frustration later in the process.