It is a parent’s worst nightmare when your child is injured in a car accident, so you would do everything you can to make things right after the incident. Still, as medical bills add up, and you watch your little one endure pain and suffering, you may be wondering about your options to recover compensation. The good news is that Florida law allows you to file a claim for the losses you and your child experience, but there are some challenges: There are limitations involving minors, who do not have the legal status required to engage in matters typically reserved for adults over age 18. While you should consult with a skilled Florida auto accident attorney about your case, a general overview of the legal considerations should be helpful.
Settlements Under $15,000
If your child’s injuries are minor and there is no long term rehabilitative care, you may be able to work with the insurance company that provides coverage for the responsible driver. The Florida statute governing the interests of children states that parents and legal guardians may settle any claim for a minor, so long as the amount of compensation does not exceed $15,000.
Claims Exceeding $15,000
If economic damages for medical care and other losses serious pain and suffering exceed $15,000; you need court approval to settle a claim. Under these circumstances, it will be necessary to go through the proceedings to appoint a legal guardian. As a parent, you would qualify for the position, but the process is somewhat complex and may require a surety bond.
Lawsuits for a Child’s Injuries
The law requires appointment of a legal guardian if you cannot reach a settlement with the responsible driver’s insurance company and must file a lawsuit. Only a competent adult has standing to sue, so a minor must have someone else acting on his or her behalf in order to file suit.
Distributing Funds to Children
Beyond the legal requirements for filing claim, Florida law also includes provisions for distribution of the funds.
- When the settlement amount is under $15,000, the amount can be issued to parents for uses associated with the child’s best interests.
- State law protects funds in excess of $15,000 so the money must be placed in a specially titled bank account which complies with the Court’s order. Any requests for withdrawal must be approved by the Court, and be based upon necessity and fairness. In most cases, any money designated for food, shelter, healthcare, education, or other basic necessities will qualify for disbursement.
Trust a Florida Accident Lawyer to Protect Your Child’s Interests
Your child deserves proper compensation if he or she suffers injuries in a car accident, and you can rely on the dedicated attorneys at Piccin & Glynn to fight for your rights. Please contact our Ocala, FL firm at 352-581-6174 to schedule a consultation, or visit our website to find out more about our legal services for victims of auto accidents.