How is a Minor Child’s Personal Injury Case Handled by the Courts in Missouri?
Like adults, minor children can also be victims of negligence of others. However, the Courts have additional rules related to the recovery of personal injury damages differ between adults and children in order to protect the child’s interests.
This is because children are unable to make decisions to:
- Reasonably respond to the negligence of others
- Describe in detail how they have been injured
- file a personal injury claim
- negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement
That is why minor children are required to have someone agree to make these decisions and act on their behalf. The following may be approved by the Courts to make this decision:
- A guardian
- A conservator
- A “next friend”
- A guardian ad litem (a lawyer responsible for advocating the best interest of the child)
If a settlement has been reached Missouri Supreme Court Rule 52.02 provides that the parties must motion the Court to approve the settlement. The motion should include:
- Statements of the facts of the case
- Request that a “next friend” be allowed to enter into a settlement on behalf of the child
- Be signed by all of the parties involved in the settlement and their respective counsel
The court then makes a determination as to whether to approve the settlement agreement on behalf of the minor. Then the next friend, guardian ad litem or guardian or conservator will be ordered to sign a release of judgment and complete the terms of the settlement.
Once a settlement is approved, the child’s next friend or guardian ad litem may receive the child’s personal injury award on behalf of the child. However, there are rules in place to protect the children from the next friend or guardian ad litem misappropriating the award.
The court must approve any settlement that a minor’s next friend reaches on behalf of the child. There are additional requirements that must take place if the personal injury award is greater $10,000. The court will appoint a conservator to receive the settlement on the child’s behalf. However, if the award is less than $10,000, then a conservator is not required by the court. In those situations, the next friend may handle the child’s affairs and see that any award money is transferred to the child or a parent of the child.
Bond is required to be posted by the next of friend to receive and administer the settlement. The court will approve the bond. Failure to execute the bond and receiving the award, may result in the representative being liable for an amount double the amount of the award that received.
Schedule a free consultation to see if RKB LAW LLC can assist your minor with their personal injury case.
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