Children often suffer serious injuries in car accidents caused by negligent drivers. They may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, filing a claim for them will be different than filing your own claim if you were also hurt in the crash.
Who Can File a Child’s Claim in Virginia?
In our state, a minor child under 18 years old is referred to as an infant under personal injury laws. They cannot legally file a claim, sign legal documents, or settle an auto collision claim.
Under Virginia law, a “next friend” must file a claim on behalf of a minor child. This person must be at least 18 years old and is usually the child’s parent or guardian. A parent does not need to go to court if both parents agree on who should act as their child’s next friend.
Do Settlements of Car Accident Claims for Children Have to Be Approved by the Court?
In most cases, the court must approve an out-of-court settlement or settlement of a lawsuit filed on behalf of a minor child. This procedure is referred to as an infant settlement. The judge may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child and report to the court. There would be a hearing on whether to approve the settlement where the parents, child, and guardian ad litem would need to be present.
If the judge approves the settlement, they would also decide how the funds could be used. Some possible options include:
- If the compensation is $15,000 or less, the funds could be released to the parents to be held for the child until they are 18 years old.
- The money could have to be placed in an interest-bearing account and only be used for specific purposes that would benefit the child’s health, welfare, and education.
- The funds could be distributed through a structured settlement with payments to be paid at set times to be used for purposes specified by the court.
- If the settlement is large, the judge could order that the court clerk hold the funds for the child. When the minor turns 18, they could file a petition with the court asking that the money be released to them.
Was your child hurt in an auto collision caused by a negligent driver? Our experienced and compassionate car accident lawyers are here to help you file their claim and obtain court approval of their settlement. Call our Norfolk office at 877-960-3441 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation today to learn more about how we can assist you and your child.