There are, unfortunately, many times when a minor is injured in an accident. As minors cannot typically represent their own interests, it is oftentimes up to the parents or legal guardians to bring a claim or a lawsuit on their behalf.
Once there has been a settlement or judgment, if it is a sizable amount, the party paying the settlement or judgment may require what is called a “friendly suit” before they disburse the money to the minor child. So what is a friendly suit?
A friendly suit requires the person making the claim to bring suit against the adverse party in an accident. The parties then let the court know that the case has settled. The court will appoint an attorney, known as a guardian ad litem, to represent the interests of the minor child. Essentially, this person’s job is to make sure that the settlement is fair to the minor and that all the money is being disbursed to the appropriate parties for the appropriate amounts. If the guardian ad litem is satisfied with the settlement, then the parties can determine what the best approach is for the minor to receive the settlement funds.
Many clients feel like this is a process that is overly complicated. It is in place to ensure that minors receive the settlement money that they have a right to due to any injuries they may have incurred. For example, if a minor is permanently disabled and has a sizable settlement, it is not in the minor’s best interest for anyone else to have access to the money without court intervention. This ensures that they will have money available to them for the foreseeable future in order to cover any future medical care they may need.
Another example would be if the minor’s parents are divorced. We do not want a system in which the parent that brings the claim on behalf of the child receives a monetary reward while the other doesn’t; this would cause unnecessary court battles and stress amongst families. The system in place ensures that the money is the minor child’s and for their benefit alone, either to see to their medical needs or to be given to them once they become an adult.
Though friendly suits may seem unnecessary, they are in place to protect those children who may not be able to speak for themselves. They ensure that money awarded for injuries and pain and suffering goes to the party that deserves it.
It is always helpful to have experienced legal counsel to guide you through this process. This is to help ensure that all of the appropriate steps are taken to ensure the best outcome for the child. If you have dealt with an injury to a minor, please feel free to call Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C. for a free case consultation today.