If a minor is injured in a medical malpractice case who receives settlement money, the parent or the child?

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2023Fact Checked

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Jeffrey Johnson

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2023Fact Checked

In many states, in order for a minor (anyone under the age of 18) to file a claim in court, the claim must be filed through a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL, for short). The Guardian Ad Litem, usually one of the minor’s parents, will file suit on behalf of the child and must act for the child’s benefit. All settlements of a minor’s personal injury claim must be approved by a Judge in order for the settlement to be valid.

When a medical malpractice case is settled on behalf of an injured child, first the debts are paid to the people who rendered services or advanced money to the child. This group of beneficiaries usually includes the doctors, the child’s lawyer, the insurance company and the parents. For example, a child’s parents can request reimbursement for their out-of-pocket payments to doctors.

The proceeds of the settlement, after litigation expenses, are normally paid into the court for the use and benefit of the child. When the settlement involves an annuity, it is referred to as a structured settlement. Instead of a settlement being paid in a lump sum, payments are made on a regular basis over the lifetime of the child. When the child reaches adulthood, the court hands over the remaining amount to the child. Parents can ask the court for more money to use for the benefit of their injured child, but the court does not often agree to do this. You may, however, live in a state where the remainder of the settlement money can be paid to you for the benefit of your child.

Case Studies: Settlement Money in Medical Malpractice Cases Involving Minors

Case Study 1: Approval of Settlement by Judge

A minor injured in a medical malpractice incident, the settlement process required the involvement of a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL). The GAL, usually one of the child’s parents, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the child. After thorough evaluation and negotiation, a settlement was reached between the parties involved.

However, before the settlement could be finalized, it needed approval from a Judge to ensure it was in the best interest of the child. The Judge reviewed the terms of the settlement, assessed the compensation amount, and ensured that it adequately addressed the child’s medical needs and future expenses.

Case Study 2: Allocation of Settlement Funds

A minor was a victim of medical malpractice, resulting in severe injuries. Once a settlement was reached, the funds were allocated among various beneficiaries.

These beneficiaries typically included the doctors and healthcare providers involved in the case, the child’s legal representation, the insurance company, and the parents. The settlement funds were used to cover medical expenses, legal fees, and reimburse the parents for any out-of-pocket payments they made towards their child’s treatment.

The remaining funds, after deducting litigation expenses, were placed under the court’s control for the benefit of the child.

In some instances, the settlement was structured, providing regular payments over the child’s lifetime until they reached adulthood, at which point they would gain access to the remaining funds.

Case Study 3: Court Approval for Additional Funds

The court considered a request for additional funds from the settlement to benefit the injured child. While courts are generally cautious about releasing additional funds beyond the allocated settlement amount, they may assess the specific circumstances of the case and make exceptions in certain situations.

For example, if the child’s ongoing medical needs were particularly significant or unforeseen complications arose, the court might approve a request for additional funds to ensure the child’s well-being and quality of life.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

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