Just like adults, minors, too, can be involved in accidents, sustain severe injuries, or even lose their lives. When your child has a personal injury claim, and you reach a settlement, also known as a compromise, on their behalf outside court, the child cannot sign the contract because they cannot enter into legally binding contracts under eighteen.

Even after you sign the settlement contract for the child, you will not receive the settlement money before undergoing a minor’s compromise process, where you provide the details of the minor’s settlement or compromise to the judge for approval. Discussed below is how to compromise a minor’s claim in Nevada.

Legal Definition of a Minor’s Comp Claim

A compromise refers to a settlement for compensatory damages in a disputed legal claim involving injuries or illness of a minor. Under NRS 41.200, a minor’s compromise is when an adult, parent, or legal guardian enters into a settlement for an underage child in a legal claim stemming from the child’s injuries or disease. You, the parent or guardian, act for the child because they cannot sign binding agreements in Nevada. Even if no lawsuit has been filed against the liable party, the settlement must go through court for approval.

The court plays the role of the minor’s advocate by reviewing the terms of the settlement contract to ensure that it favors the minor because once the agreement is signed, the child loses their right to bring a lawsuit against the same third party. Also, the court recognizes that underage people can be quickly taken advantage of compared to adults, which is why it puts in place special procedures to protect their interests. Therefore, before approval, the court must establish that the compromise is in the minor beneficiary’s best interest and that all parties to the contract fully comprehend their obligations provided in the compromise.

Before the court approves a compromise, it must satisfy particular conditions. It furnishes all the relevant parties with sufficient details to ensure they understand their rights and that the minor’s representative has information pertinent to making an informed decision for the beneficiary.

Also, the contract must use language that deters future lawsuits against those involved and offers clear terms on the compensatory damages and payment period. Lastly, you should know that compromises are only legally binding to those signing them, not third parties, unless under unique circumstances.

When parties enter a contract, they can prevent litigation and still receive reasonable compensation for damages obtained by the child. A minor’s compensation is an effective way to settle an injury claim outside court. However, before committing to the agreement, all individuals must understand the contract and its impact.

So, before signing the agreement, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. The attorney will examine it and advise you on the most favorable course of action to protect your interests and those of the minor.

Cases where Compromises are Common

Minor’s compromise happens in almost all personal injury claims, but it is prevalent in negligent-based claims like:

  • Car accident injury claims
  • Medical malpractice cases
  • Wrongful death claims

The compensation you seek for the child in these claims includes damages for harm sustained from the car crash, medical expenses, lost wages for missing a holiday job and replacing a damaged bicycle.

Parties that Can Enter an Agreement for the Minor

Children below 18 are not allowed to enter legally binding agreements. Nevertheless, Nevada statutes allow particular contracts to be lawfully binding when they obtain approval from a court in the relevant jurisdiction. These contracts include outside court settlements, otherwise known as compromises.

Several parties can sign the compromise for the minor, including:

  • Either parent of the child, if they are not divorced,
  • Custodial parents, if they stay separately
  • The parent living with the minor if the court has yet to rule on custody
  • Guardian ad litem (GAL)

A legal counsel can represent a child in the compromise petition if they are authorized to do so or have been chosen by a GAL. The attorney will represent the child in the petition.

The court can also appoint a GAL to represent the minor’s legal interests, review evidence, and make suggestions for the child’s best interests.

The judge hearing the petition is also a party to the compromise and must listen to arguments from all parties and make a decision based on Nevada law. Also, before approving the compromise, the judge must ensure it is fair, impartial, and in the minor beneficiary’s best interest.

As a parent, you can also act on behalf of the child to reach a reasonable settlement that serves the child's best interests. The settlement process can be lengthy because it has to go through many stages before reaching a final contract. Even though it takes a long time, the goal should be to achieve the best compensatory damages for the minor.

The Legal Process

For a minor’s insurance claim to be compromised, it must receive approval from the court in the minor’s county of residence or the county of the accident if the child lives outside Nevada.

For the petition to obtain the court’s approval, it should be written and presented to the relevant court. The petition must set forth:

  • The official name, residence, and age of the child
  • The facts bringing the minor to the statute's purview, like the circumstances making it a disputed insurance claim for funds, the liable party’s name, and the date, location, and situation, indicate that the personal injury claim stems from an accident.
  • The official names and addresses of the minor’s parents or lawful guardians
  • The addresses and official names of individuals with physical control or custody of the child
  • The official name and address of the claimant and how they relate to the ill or injured child
  • The settlement sum, including in-depth details of the recovered compensatory damages. The information should also include apportionment of the damages to attorney fees, medical bills, and other damages from the accident.
  • Details regarding legal fee deductions, if any
  • If the plaintiff believes that signing the compromise serves the child’s best interests,
  • The plaintiff or claimant has been knowledgeable and recognizes that by signing the compromise, the minor will relinquish their right to seek additional damages from the liable party offering the settlement in the future.

Petition Documentation

When a claim entails a personal injury sustained by the underage, you must submit all the documents related to the petition, like medical records, to the relevant district court during or before the compromise petition proceeding.

Your personal injury legal representative must include these documents for the court’s evaluation. The documents that must accompany your compromise petition are:

  • The kind of injury, diagnosis, treatment, and the child’s healing progress. The details assist the court in comprehending the degree and type of the minor’s injuries.
  • The total medical costs accrued up to the date of the petition include but are not limited to, medical bills and all other expenses relating to the harm.
  • This document provides information regarding the type, total paid medical costs, and the parties that received the payments. The court relies on these documents to corroborate financial obligations and transactions associated with medical bills.
  • Any outstanding figures are owed for the child’s medical treatment. These include unpaid balances or debts for medical treatment provided to the injured child.
  • Future medical cost appraisal. These estimates help the court assess the possible ongoing and future treatment the child will need for their injuries or illness and ensure they are captured in the compromise or settlement contract.

Additionally, ensure that the report captures all the relevant medical records related to the harm or illness. The medical records provide additional proof of the injury and support your claim for medical treatment and incurred costs.

Once you file the petition, the judge will schedule a date and time for the proceeding. In the court hearing, the representative of the minor beneficiary and the opposing side will present their evidence, including financial records and valid contracts, to support or against the compromise. After the judge listens to the arguments from all sides, they can determine if it is in the child’s best interest. When it is, the judge will approve it.

Also, in the petition proceeding, the judge will be open to recommendations or objections to the compromise from all relevant parties. Once the hearing is concluded, all parties will await the court’s verdict granting or rejecting the compromise. You should know that the minor cannot appeal any court decisions. Only an adult can appeal the decision if they are unsatisfied with the court’s verdict.

Parties that Receive Money After the Minor’s Claim is Compromised

When a child's claim is compromised and the judge approves the settlement contract, the judge directs the funds to the child’s biological parents, legal guardians, or guardians.

Typically, the judge can:

  • Direct the funds to the child’s legal guardian, father, or mother, with or without submitting a bond
  • Order the appointment of a GAL or general guardian to receive the funds, with or without a bond, directly.

Eventually, the court has the final say over which party should receive the money for the child, depending on what best serves the minor’s interests. The judge will give the money to the party that it feels will benefit the child, considering the child's present and future monetary needs and the claim’s nature.

Blocked Trust

Per Nevada statutes, once the court grants the minor’s compromise claim and the parents or guardians of the injured child receive the settlement funds, they must create a blocked trust or financial investment for the child’s benefit. The investment account comprises the following:

  • A savings account created at a Nevada depository institution
  • A deposit certificate
  • An American savings bond
  • A variable or fixed annuity agreement
  • Any other court-approved and reliable investment option

The law mandates the minor’s parent or legal guardian to create a secure investment after the court approves the compromise. The objective is to protect the settlement proceeds and apportion them reliably for the child’s benefit.

Obligation to Continue Reporting to the Judge

After the child’s crime is compromised, the minor’s parents or guardian managing the trust account must maintain particular reporting obligations.

Within thirty days of obtaining the compromise funds, the party trusted with the settlement must furnish the judge with evidence that the blocked trust has been created.

If the account balance is at least $10,000 after reliable investments, the person responsible for the investment should present annual reports to the judge detailing the ventures in the account for the last twelve months.

When the balance on the investment is at most $10,000, the court must obtain periodic and verified reports on the account’s activity. It is critical for the party managing the accounts to understand the rules of these investments to ensure the child receives the funds when they become adults or when bills need paying.

You should understand that in particular circumstances, the court can schedule a proceeding on periodic reports to obtain detailed explanations of the blocked trust's activities.

Acquiring Funds from the Investment Account

The two primary ways a beneficiary can obtain money from the blocked financial trust is through a court order or certification of the minor beneficiary’s age.

The minor beneficiary can acquire money from or control the blocked trust account or investments through a court order from the district court that approved the compromise. The court injunction authorizes the release of the blocked financial investments to the minor beneficiary.

Alternatively, the child beneficiary can obtain the funds in the trust when they reach legal age. When the minor attains legal age, the court that approved the compromise can grant a certification corroborating their age. After acquiring the certification, the child can control the financial investments or terminate the account to receive the funds directly.

Simply put, the minor beneficiary can access the funds in the blocked trust through a court order or by turning 18 and receiving an age confirmation certificate from the court.

The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney in a Minor’s Comp Claim

The guidance and assistance of a personal injury lawyer in a compromise are invaluable in ensuring a favorable outcome. Usually, insurance adjusters offer the least amount of settlement, which is generally insufficient to cover the minor’s medical bills and other expenses from the accident. Your last wish is for your injured or ill child to receive a settlement that is insufficient to cover all their losses.

Thankfully, with the guidance of a profound attorney, you can negotiate with the insurance adjuster for a fair settlement. Personal injury lawyers understand the tricks insurers employ to offer the fewest settlements and, therefore, will negotiate a settlement covering all the damages. The claim representative will pretend to have your best interests and be compassionate, but they want to manipulate you into signing the minimum settlement. They are in business for profits, and offering the most minor settlement makes sense to them. However, you and the injured minor will be left in financial trouble.

Therefore, avoid facing insurance adjusters or representatives alone. You need a competent attorney with the resources and knowledge to face off with insurance companies and their lawyers to increase the chances of a favorable settlement.

Your legal representative will also go through the settlement paperwork and ensure that all the terms are organized before signing for the petitioner. Reviewing the paperwork entails ensuring that all the legal jargon used in the document is understood by the parties to the contract and that they sign all the waivers in the settlement. A competent attorney will also take the time to explain all the tax implications associated with the compromise and walk you through any procedures that you need help understanding.

An experienced personal injury lawyer is critical in a compromised minor’s claims because they take time to explain the legal terms and relevant statutes to the parent or GAL and the minor. The affected child understands the process, and it becomes easier for them to settle with the opposing parties, thereby obtaining compensatory damages earlier than when negotiating without legal guidance.

Attorneys ensure that the settlement to be presented before the court is fair and that the minor fully understands the terms of the compromise. With the help of a profound attorney, you and your child can be at peace knowing that the best professionals are handling the claim.

Find a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Adhering to NRS 41.200 regulations regarding the settlement of an injury claim involving a minor is the best way for the insurer and the defendant to know that a claim has been resolved and will not arise. If your minor has been injured and seeks compensation, the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm can help with the settlement. Our skilled attorneys will negotiate a reasonable settlement, obtain a court's approval, and ensure the funds are stored in a blocked trust until the minor turns 18 or receives a court order to access the funds. Call us today at 702-996-1224 to discuss your claim.