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Is Court Approval Required for Settlements Involving Minors?

Many people, and perhaps you, engage directly with the insurance company to negotiate your own settlement. Your decision is likely based on an assumption that you have the ability to negotiate a "good" settlement yourself and your gamble that you can net more that way by excluding the need to pay a portion of the settlement to an attorney.

If I'm describing your situation, you are probably making a mistake. The mistake is not necessarliy based on a lack of ability to negotiate, although that may be the case, too. Rather, it is based on a lack of information. You simply can't negotiate your best deal if you don't know the alternative.

The alternative is more than just recognizing that you will need to "go to court" or hire an attorney. To settle the case properly, you need need to have a sense of what the case is worth. That is, how much of a recovery you will likely receive if you went all the way to trial.

This concept is so well understood and accepted that our law has special provision to protect minors from entering into settlement agreements in personal injury cases. The law says, essentially, that if a minor enters into a settlement agreement, he or she can invalidate it when reaching the age of majority. Why would he or she do that? Well, when you get to the age of majority, which could be as many as 18 years later, the minor may have medical issues unforseen at the time of settlement.

What all parties may have viewed as a head laceration may later be determimned to have caused minor brain damage. Obtaining judicial approval may be justified on the grounds that conflicts and financial pressures may arise from coping with an injured child and such pressure can create the potential for parental/guardian action contrary to the child's ultimate best interests. Sharon v. City of Newton, 437 Mass. 99, 109 n.10, 769 N.E.2d 738, 747 n.10 (2002). In the event a settlement is entered into without court approval, in the absence of fraud, bad faith, or conscious disregard of a minor's interests, a settlement for a minor will not be set aside. Nagle v. O'Neil, 337 Mass. 80, 81, 148 N.E.2d 183 (1958).

So, is court approval required? No, but insurer and parents alike should consider the benefits of obtaining it. For the unrepresented parent trying to negotiate settlement, it is at least worth considering that you will probalby need an attorney to help you with court approval. Do yourself a favor and speak with an attorney today. To speak with a personal injury attorney for free, call our office today at 866-995-6663. Our Boston Personal Injury Attorneys will give you a free case assessment and advice. Call today.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Phone: (866) 995-6663
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