If we win my child’s swimming accident lawsuit, who receives the money, us or our injured child?

Who receives the settlement money depends on the laws of your state. In many states, in order for a minor (anyone under the age of eighteen (18) years) to file a claim in court, the claim must be filed through a Guardian Ad Litem. The Guardian Ad Litem, usually one of the minor’s parents, will file suit on behalf of the child and must act for the child’s benefit. All settlements of a minor’s personal injury claim must be approved by a judge in order for the settlement to be valid.

In most injury cases that are settled, first the debts are paid to the people who rendered services or advanced money to the injured child. This group of beneficiaries usually includes doctors, lawyers, the insurance company and parents. For example, a child’s parents can request reimbursement for their out-of-pocket payments to doctors.

The proceeds of the settlement, after litigation expenses, are normally paid into the court for the use and benefit of the child. When the settlement involves an annuity, it is referred to as a structured settlement. Instead of a settlement being paid in a lump sum, payments are made on a regular basis over the lifetime of the child. When the child reaches adulthood, the court will hand over the remaining amount to the child. Parents can ask the court for more money to use for the benefit of their injured child, but the court does not often agree to do this. You may, however, live in a state where the remainder of the settlement money can be paid to you for the benefit of your child.

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