When a minor child’s case is settled with an insurance company, special court rules apply to protect the best interests of the minor child. The Court requires that a neutral attorney be appointed as a Settlement Guardian ad Litem or “SGAL”. A court-appointed SGAL will review all of the minor child’s case-related information, records, and complete an overall investigation of the claim. The SGAL will also call or meet with the parent/guardian to discuss the settlement and confirm the parent is agreeable to the overall terms of the settlement for the minor child. Once completed, the SGAL files his or her report with the Court recommending approval of the settlement.
Once the SGAL report is filed with the Court, an approval hearing is scheduled. The parent/guardian will be required to attend the approval hearing in case the Judge has any questions. Hearings take about 15 minutes and are conducted via Zoom in almost every case. The SGAL and your attorney will also appear for the approval hearing. If everything is in order, the Judge will sign the Order Approving Minor Settlement.
After the settlement is approved by the Court, the insurance company will send some documents for the parent/guardian to sign on behalf of the minor child. Once signed and returned, the insurance company will mail the minor child’s settlement check to our office. We will pay attorney fees, costs, and any unpaid medical bills or insurance reimbursements from the minor child’s total settlement, then issue a check in the minor child’s name, in accordance with the Court Order.
The parent/guardian will take the settlement check to a bank of his or her choice, open a blocked account (or Get/529 account, annuity, etc.), have the bank sign a receipt, then return the receipt to us. We will file the receipt with the Court and close the case. This process takes approximately 90 days to complete from the time the tentative settlement is reached with the insurance company.
Upon the minor child’s 18th birthday (age of majority), a simple hearing will be set with the Court for an Order releasing the settlement funds from the blocked account and the funds will be released to him or her. We are available to assist you and your family with the release of funds process when your child turns 18 years old.
For information about different types of accounts in which to deposit the settlement funds, please contact us and we will make recommendations as to the best type of account to open for your minor child.