If your child was injured because of another person’s carelessness, you have the right to file a lawsuit on your child’s behalf. If a settlement is offered or your child gets an award from the court, it will be handled differently than your typical personal injury lawsuit.
Motor vehicle accidents are the number-one cause of death for children in the United States, and they are also a leading cause of injuries. Children are also frequently injured while they are riding their bikes, walking on sidewalks, and crossing the street. In addition to this, children are more likely to be attacked by dogs. Many children are also the victims of accidental shootings.
Recovering from any of these accidents takes time and medical treatments. In cases of serious injuries, the caretaking needs of the injured child can last years or even a lifetime. Coping with the expenses associated with an injury can be overwhelming. If someone else was responsible for the accident, you can hold them responsible for these costs.
Can I Access My Child’s Settlement Money?
In some cases yes, and in others no. It all depends on the type of settlement your child receives and whether or not it is being held in trust by a trustee who was appointed by the court. Most of the time, but not always, the trustee will be the child’s parent.
These funds are meant for the benefit of the injured child. In general, you can only access them if a portion of the settlement has been designated for your use. For example, if a certain portion of the settlement has been allocated for paying medical bills or for traveling for medical treatment.
This area of the law can be complex, so you’ll need an attorney’s assistance. If you have questions about a lawsuit or settlement, you can find someone who can help you with your case by clicking this link.
How Is a Child’s Settlement Disbursed?
There are three different ways your child’s settlement may be paid out. It may be paid out in a single lump sum, it may be paid using structured payments, and in some cases it may be disbursed via periodic payments in varying amounts. Funds may be allotted for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical costs
- Disabled access modifications to your home
- Vehicle modifications or purchase of a disabled-access vehicle
- Daily living expenses
- Assistive technology and adaptive equipment
- Loss of future income
In addition to these expenses, parents may file their own claim for income they lost while they were caring for their injured child and other expenses they incurred as a result of the accident. You would be able to access these funds as you see fit in accordance with the terms of your agreement, the same as any other personal injury settlement.
In some cases, the court may deposit the settlement money into a blocked account. When this happens, the minor will be able to access the funds once they turn 18. The court may release these funds in a series of lump sum payments, for example, the settlement may be paid out in three payments at age 18, then again at 21, and the remainder at 25.
When a trustee is appointed to oversee the disbursement of the funds, they must make sure the funds are only used for the child’s benefit in accordance with the trust’s guidelines. Your settlement agreement will include guidelines for how the money can be used. If a trustee wrongly uses these funds for their own purposes, they can be fined.
If you can prove to the court that there are extraordinary circumstances, you may be able to petition the court to release some of the funds for your child’s benefit. If you ever have any questions about whether or not it’s okay to spend your child’s settlement money, talk to an attorney first. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when sanctions are involved.