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Personal Injury Involving Minors

Posted in on September 11, 2019

child with injured leg

When a personal injury case involves a minor, there are some special issues and steps to be aware of. All personal injury cases are complex. It’s critical for the victim to get the compensation they deserve. It’s also essential to handle the case in the right way and structure the final settlement in a way that is helpful to the victim long into the future.

If a minor is a victim in an injury case, the case requires special attention. The child’s rights and interests must be protected both during and after the case. But what does that mean? What happens when a minor is the victim of a personal injury accident? Here’s what you need to know from our Denver personal injury lawyers.

Personal Injury Claims Involving Minors in Colorado

Personal injury claims involving minors in Colorado require court approval of the final settlement. In addition, the court must approve of a guardian to act on behalf of the minor in court. This guardian is in addition to an attorney that represents the minor.

The court must review all of the details of the case and the proposed settlement. In addition, the court must approve of a plan for handling the funds in the child’s best interests after the case ends. Personal injury claims involving minors in Colorado require court oversight to ensure that the minor’s interests are represented and that justice is done on their behalf.

Approval of Minor Settlement Colorado

Approval of minor settlement in Colorado is called Compromise of a Minor’s Claim [1]. It’s the official court proceeding that takes place when a settlement for a minor goes through the approval process in Colorado. All interested parties must receive formal notice. The court must conduct a hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to approve the settlement with a finding that the settlement is in the best interests of the minor child.

Compromise of a Minor’s Claim in Colorado

Compromise of a Minor’s Claim in Colorado is the legal proceeding to finalize and approve a personal injury settlement for a minor. The settlement must be submitted in writing to the court. Everyone acting for the child must sign it. The parents or guardians must also state that they understand that the settlement bars any future claims regarding the circumstances causing the injury. Here is the information that must be included in a Compromise of a Minor’s Claim in Colorado:

  • Name of the victim
  • Age of the victim
  • Residence of the minor
  • Accounting for attorney fees deducted from the settlement
  • Summary of the factual circumstances that surround the claim
  • Custody information for the child
  • Total settlement amount
  • Details of what damages are covered
  • Affirmation from the child’s representatives that the settlement is fair and final

In addition to requiring all of these details, the court will also inquire as to how the child’s funds will be managed in the future.

Colorado Court Procedure for Approving a Minor’s Injury Settlement

Rule 16 of the Colorado Rules of Probate Procedure contains Colorado’s court procedure for approving a minor’s injury settlement. The petition that the parties file is commonly called a “Rule 16 Petition.” There is no official form to use for a Rule 16 Petition. Instead, the parties draft and submit their own petition that contains all of the required language.

When the parties file the Rule 16 Petition, they must give all interested parties notice of the hearing. Interested parties include:

  • Parents
  • Any other conservator or guardian
  • Anyone seeking conservatorship or guardianship
  • The other party or parties
  • Any government entity that may be involved in paying benefits (Medicaid, SSDI, SSI)
  • Insurance companies involved in the case
  • A party that may have the right to subrogate
  • Other parties as ordered by the court

The court must conduct an evidentiary hearing. But the details of how to hold the hearing are up to the judge. When deciding whether to approve the petition, the court looks at conflicts of interest. For example, whether the parents are also victims of the same accident may be a conflict. If the parents are friends of the defendant, that might be another type of conflict.

What Happens If a Child Wins a Lawsuit in Colorado

If a child wins a lawsuit, the guardian or custodian that acts on their behalf receives the funds. In Colorado, the court must approve of a plan to handle the funds for the benefit of the child. Sometimes, the funds are placed in a guardianship or a conservatorship. Parents or family members may manage the funds, or the court may appoint a professional third party to manage the funds.

There are pros and cons to each option. In some circumstances, family members are capable managers of a child’s funds. They might know the personal details of the child’s needs. On the other hand, a professional manager may be less susceptible to a conflict of interest. However, professional conservators come with fees and a lack of privacy. The court considers all of these circumstances when they determine what to do after a child wins a lawsuit.

Personal Injury Minor Statute of Limitations Colorado

When a personal injury involves a minor, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run until the child’s 18th birthday. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case is usually two years. It’s three years for car accident cases. But when the case involves a minor, the minor has until their 20th or 21st birthday, respectively, to file their claim.

However, if you’re the parent of a minor child, you don’t have to wait until the child turns 18 to seek the compensation that your child deserves. You may petition to bring a claim on behalf of your child. As the child’s parent, you can petition to bring the claim at any time after the personal injury accident.

Colorado Attorneys for Personal Injury Claims Involving a Minor Child

If your child has been hurt in a personal injury accident, we can help. We’re the skilled legal team at Bachus & Schanker, LLC, and we are experienced in all injury claims, including ones that involve minors. Let us help you fight for justice on behalf of your child. Call us today for your free consultation.

Sources

[1] Compromise of a Minor’s Claim

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Super Lawyers - Kyle Bachus
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
Super Lawyers - Darin Schanker
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyer
5280 Top Lawyers of Denver