Settlements Involving Minors
If you have a child injured in a car wreck, medical malpractice action, school incident, or other tort, you likely need to be thinking about what happens if the case results in a verdict or settlement.
South Carolina's minor settlement laws are fairly straightforward, but the client and the attorney must understand them to both (1) protect the child's money and (2) facilitate the conclusion of the case.
South Carolina's Minor Settlement Laws
As of 2021, South Carolina laws state that in certain situations, a court must approve minor settlements. Also, if the child is to receive more than a specific amount, the court may require a conservator. What is a conservator in South Carolina? A conservator is a person appointed to protect the child's particular interests in a legal matter. In each of the scenarios below, more facts about your case are needed; these are simply synopses of section 62-5-101 et seq. of the South Carolina Code:
< $2,501 - court approval of the settlement is not typically required
$2,501 - $15,000 - a guardian may need to be appointed, and a court must approve the settlement; however, a conservator is normally not required
> $15,000 - a court must appoint a conservator and approve the settlement
The purpose of these laws is simple: the money is for the child, and the court wants to protect the child by ensuring the money is traceable and used solely for the injured minor.
Why Are Minor Settlements Important
In addition to protecting the child's money, planning a minor settlement allows our clients to benefit their child. Some clients have Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI). Some clients have disabilities. Some clients have Medicaid benefits or insurance. Some clients have 529 plans to pay for their child's college education. In each of these situations, these are important points to know.
Additionally, if the parent has paid for their child's medical expenses, that parent may have a personal claim for these expenses. For example, looking at the types of damages in South Carolina, if the parent has incurred $20,000 in medical expenses, and the child's non-economic damages are $30,000, the parent may be able to obtain reimbursement of that $20,000, while still permitting the child's recovery for his or her damages.
When we come to a settlement agreement in a case involving injuries to a minor, attorney Andrew Littlejohn Johnson sits down with the client and explains the different options and how each may hurt or benefit the minor. Then, if necessary, we help obtain the advice of an investment company, which can act as the conservator on a case. In these situations, we meet together with the client and financial advisor to ensure the client has no unanswered questions and chooses the best plan for their child.
Columbia Child Injury Attorney
If your child was injured in a Columbia automobile accident, at a Greenwood school, by an Allendale doctor, or in any other way because someone broke the law or was negligent in South Carolina, give Littlejohn Law a call today. Our consultations are always free and confidential.