Anyone who has been around children knows that they can be injury prone. They often cannot recognize and respond appropriately to danger or other hazards in the same way adults can. Children can also lack the mental capacity and the experience to avoid injury and they are more likely to be injured as they lack the same durability that adults have. In Florida, minors cannot file their own lawsuits due to lack of mental capacity and therefore must be represented through a legal guardian. In many cases, the legal guardian will be the child’s parents. Depending on the type of settlement in a minor child’s personal injury case, court approval may or may not be necessary. The amount of the settlement and the status of the case upon settlement are the driving factors regarding court approval.
If the case is settled prior to a lawsuit being filed and the settlement is for less than $15,000 or the child’s net proceeds from the settlement will be less than $15,000 court approval is not usually required. If the case is settled after a lawsuit has been filed, court approval if necessary. Additionally, if the amount of the settlement is over $15,000, a guardianship usually needs to be established. The guardianship will normally be required by the court to put the funds in a conservative account and make them available to the child when the reach the age of majority. The legal guardian usually oversees the proceeds and reviews the settlement terms to make sure the settlement is in the child’s best interest. The Court will maintain jurisdiction over the settlement funds. Those funds can sometimes be distributed prior to the child reaching the age of majority with court approval. Whenever a minor is involved in a personal injury matter there are many details and technicalities to be aware of and we invite you to call Givens Givens Sparks if you or your minor child have been injured in an accident.