If a child is injured an accident in Pennsylvania, the child’s parents can bring a legal claim while the child is a minor or the child can wait until he/she turns 18 and then bring the case as an adult. What is normally a two year time limitation period for starting the legal process against the person or company responsible for causing the injury is extended until the child’s 20th birthday (the 2 year limitation period starts when the child turns 18).
So, what if the case is settled or the child’s parents get a Jury Verdict while the child is still a minor? What happens to the money?
What Happens with the Money in a Personal Injury Case in Pennsylvania involving a Child?
Pennsylvania has special rules protecting Minors in the event that they get a settlement or win a Verdict in a Pennsylvania Personal Injury Case.
The law tries to protect the child in two ways.
First, any settlement must be approved by a Judge to ensure that the child is being fairly compensated and to make sure that the attorney’s fees and costs are fair.
Second, the proceeds of the settlement must be put in a safe account, usually a FDIC insured bank account, and the money cannot be spent without Court approval before the child turns 18. The law protects the minor by not allowing risky investments and by not permitting parental access to the funds without a Judge overseeing any withdrawal. Usually withdrawals will be permitted for medical expenses, educational opportunities or some other good cause. Then, at age 18, the money is the child’s money and any restrictions regarding investment options or spending are lifted.
How About a Structured Settlement?
In some cases, Judges will approve that the settlement funds can be invested in a Structured Settlement, which is an annuity providing pay outs to the injured person over time.
There are three advantages to a Structure. First, the fund will often grow more than a conservative FDIC insured savings account. Second, the Structure can provide for more flexible payments over time. Third, the Structure can insure that the child does not get a huge lump sum payment right at age 18 that might be wasted.
Tim Rayne is a Personal Injury Lawyer with MacElree Harvey, Ltd. For over 25 years, Tim has been helping injured accident victims understand their legal rights and receive fair treatment from insurance companies. Tim has extensive experience settling cases with Insurance Companies but also tries Jury Trials in litigated Personal Injury matters. Tim has law offices in Kennett Square and West Chester Pennsylvania. Contact Tim for a Free Case Consultation at 6108400124 or [email protected]