Settling a Minor Child's Personal Injury Claim Now vs. Waiting for the Age of Majority

My daughter is turning 18 in a few months. Should we wait for her to turn 18 before she settles her bodily injury claim? Myrna, Atlanta

The value of your daughter’s bodily or personal injury claim will not increase or decrease just because she reaches the age of majority in Georgia, or anywhere else for that matter. I realize that is probably not the reason you are asking this question. There are some other issues that you may wish to consider.

Once your daughter turns 18, the insurance company is allowed to speak with her directly to discuss and negotiate her personal injury claim settlement if she wishes. While she is still a minor, they need to speak with her parents. If an attorney is involved, the attorney represents the minor child and her parents, but the child becomes the only real client once she is no longer a minor.

For a minor child’s personal injury claim settlement over a few thousand dollars, a court approved settlement may be necessary. This is true whether your have hired an attorney for your daughter or not. This means that you and your daughter, an attorney for the insurance company, and the attorney appointed to represent your daughter’s interests (the insurance company may pay for one if you do not already have one) will schedule a hearing before a Judge who will approve the settlement amount if he or she deems it an appropriate amount.

The length of time between the actual settlement agreement and the court approval will depend on the Court schedule as well as the schedules of everyone involved. If your daughter’s 18th birthday is coming soon, it might be difficult to get a settlement approval hearing scheduled while she is still a minor.

This article is written for informational purposes only and should not take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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