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Court Approval of a Minor Settlement Via “Friendly” Complaint

woman sculpture holding scales

Car accidents involving injuries to minors often create complicated ethical issues for attorneys, but there are certain situations where one lawyer may represent both the parent and the child.

If your child has been injured in an automobile accident due to another motorist’s negligence, there are potentially two distinct personal injury claims. The primary claim would be that of your child for physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering associated with his or her personal injuries. Assuming you are responsible for his or her care, you would have a separate claim for reimbursement of medical expenses.

While there are several unique issues involved in representation of a minor, one particularly noteworthy aspect is the process for obtaining Court approval of a minor settlement. Any settlement reached on behalf of a minor must be approved by the Court to be binding on the child when he or she reaches the age of majority (18). As such, automobile insurance companies nearly always require that the Court approve any minor settlement to protect them from a second lawsuit by the minor years down the road.

If a lawsuit has already been filed on behalf of your child, obtaining Court approval is relatively straight-forward. Your child’s guardian ad litem or attorney, if he or she has one, simply needs to file a Petition for Court Approval of a Minor Settlement and have the matter heard. The court will determine if the settlement is in the best interest of the child and will decide accordingly. The vast majority of settlements are approved.

In many cases, settlement of a minor’s claim will be reached prior to the filing of a lawsuit. In this situation, a simple method for obtaining Court approval is for the child to have a guardian ad litem appointed and for the child’s attorney to file a “friendly complaint.” Essentially, the child’s representatives will file a lawsuit pursuant to an agreement with the Defendant’s insurance company that the suit is being filed solely for the purpose of obtaining Court approval of the pre-litigation settlement. After a guardian ad litem has been appointed and an Answer filed by the Defendant, the Plaintiff may then file a Petition for Court Approval of a Minor Settlement as described above.

The Raleigh civil litigation attorneys of Maginnis Law, PLLC offer free consultations to all potential new clients, including parents of injured minors. Our lawyers handle all personal injury matters solely on a contingency basis such that you do not pay attorneys’ fees unless and until we recover compensation for your injuries. We regularly assist clients throughout the greater Triangle area, including: Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill, Morrisville, Wake Forest, Clayton, and Zebulon.

If you or your child has sustained personal injury in an automobile accident in or around Wake County, call the Raleigh personal injury civil litigation lawyers of Maginnis Law at 919.480.8526. You may also send a confidential email via our contact page.