Does a Minor Obtain Compensation in the Event of a Vehicle Accident?

Las Vegas Child Car AccidentThe short answer is that yes, a minor can receive compensation if they are injured in a car accident. However, because they are minors, special rules apply if you are trying to negotiate a settlement on behalf of your child. Minors cannot enter into legally binding contracts. But that’s what a settlement agreement is—a contract between the injured victim and the defendant for a sum of money to settle a legal claim.

Ladah Law Firm is very experienced at negotiating car accident settlements for minors. Reach out to our firm to learn more.

What Does It Mean to “Compromise” a Minor’s Claim?

This is the legal lingo for reaching a settlement. Like adults involved in car accidents, minors can receive compensation for certain losses, such as:

  • Medical care for treatment.
  • Future medical care for long-lasting or permanent injuries.
  • Lost income or wages, if your teen had to stop working due to the car accident.
  • Pain and suffering.

Of course, minors can only receive compensation if someone else is at fault for the crash. If your teen was driving and was primarily responsible for the crash, then they probably will not receive any compensation.

Who Can Negotiate & Sign a Settlement Agreement?

As mentioned above, minors cannot form legally enforceable contracts, so someone will have to sign on their behalf. Generally, a settlement must be signed by the child’s parents or, if the parents are divorced, the parent with custody. A child with a legal guardian can have the guardian sign.

Of course, you should hire an attorney to help negotiate for you. But ultimately, it is the parent or a guardian who will sign the compromise agreement.

Must a Judge Approve the Agreement?

Yes. This requirement offers some protection for your injured child. Nevada law doesn’t assume that parents will always reach a fair settlement on behalf of their children, so Nevada requires that an agreement be approved by:

  • The district court for the county where the child lives, or
  • If the child lives outside Nevada, the district court for the county where the accident happened.

For example, your child might have been injured in a car accident on the Strip. If you live in a different part of Nevada, you can have the judge in your home county approve any settlement agreement. If you live in Michigan or Ohio, you can have the judge in Clark County approve it.

How Do We Request a Judge’s Approval?

You must draft and submit a petition to the court. This is a legal document, so it is vital that you draft it correctly. It should contain certain information, such as the following:

  • Your child’s name, age, and place of residence
  • Background facts about the dispute, including the date and place of the accident
  • The defendant’s name
  • The parents’ or guardians’ names and place of residence
  • The amount of the proposed settlement
  • How the settlement will be apportioned, e.g., how much will go to lawyer’s fees or other expenses
  • An acknowledgement that you, as petitioner, recognize the settlement will bar your child from receiving more money from the defendant for the accident.

Nevada Revised Statute 41.200 contains the full requirements.

You will also need to submit detailed medical information, including health records and a breakdown of expenses.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Submit this Petition?

It absolutely helps. The courts require detailed information, and we have only touched on some of the most important information up above. At Ladah Law, our attorneys know how to create a valid petition which a judge will find acceptable. Those who represent themselves are at risk of having a judge reject the settlement, which means you need to start all over again.

What Is the Judge Looking For?

The judge is looking to ensure the settlement is fair for the child based on the facts presented. Once the judge approves a settlement, your child has no right to future compensation from this defendant. For this reason, judges take a hard look at any proposed settlement.

Do the Parents Get the Settlement Money?

Initially, yes. But Nevada doesn’t let parents hold onto the money or use it for whatever they want. Instead, you will need to create a “blocked financial investment” if you receive more than $2,500.

In a few cases, Nevada judges have appointed a guardian ad litem to accept the money on the child’s behalf. That rarely happens, however.

What Is a Blocked Financial Investment or Blocked Trust?

Parents or guardians must create this investment after receiving the proceeds for a personal injury settlement. Those who don’t have lawyers usually overlook this step, which gets them in trouble with the judge.

The funds can be invested in only certain financial instruments, such as:

  • Savings accounts
  • U.S. savings bonds
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Annuity contracts
  • Reliable investments approved by a judge

As you can see, the law requires essentially safe investments. You can’t plow your child’s settlement into the stock market or Bitcoin, and you can’t use it to invest in your cousin’s new restaurant. In a way, this makes sense. The money really belongs to your child, who will take ownership of it when they reach maturity.

If you are confused about which investment to pick, reach out to an attorney. Our Las Vegas car accident lawyers have helped many parents create block trusts. We can represent you throughout the entire process, including after a family receives proceeds from a settlement.

Is the Process Over Once I Invest the Money?

Not yet. You have 30 days after receiving the settlement funds to submit proof to the court that you have established the required financial investments.

You may also have continuing reporting obligations:

  • If more than $10,000 is invested, then you will file a yearly report explaining any investment activity to the court.
  • If $10,000 or less is invested, then a judge might require the filing of periodic reports with the court.

A judge can also hold a hearing if he or she thinks it is necessary. For example, some investment activity might look suspicious or confusing, so the judge wants some explanation. Put simply, the judge retains a supervisory role so long as your child is a minor.

How Can My Child Access Funds?

Your child can get money from the trust by requesting an order from the judge. This is the judge who ran the compromise hearing. You would submit a written request. Remember not to remove the  money before you receive judicial approval.

Once your child reaches 18, he or she is an adult. At this point, they can use the funds however they see fit. You should request certification from the court that your child has reached 18. At that point, your child can either take control of the trust, or the money should be distributed to your child and the trust will be closed.

Can my 18-year-old Use the Money Any Way She Wants?

Yes. At this point, your child is an adult. It is really no different than if your child had been 18 at the time of the accident. They would have negotiated their settlement and received the settlement proceeds directly.

Have Questions? Contact Experienced Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyers

Minors in car accidents in Nevada need experienced legal counsel to ensure they receive fair compensation for their injuries. Few people know how to aggressively negotiate a settlement, and insurance companies love hearing that victims and their families are unrepresented. To protect your child’s future, contact Ladah Law today, (702) 252-0055. We can answer any questions you have in a free consultation and immediately begin negotiating a settlement if you hire us.