THE MCMILLIAN LAW FIRM - PASSIONATELY REPRESENTING INJURED MINORS IN CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC
Parents can not feel any thing more trying than having to hear the cries of an injured child. Whether it be from a car accident, or from a dog bite, or from an accident at school, the first instinct of any parent will be to make sure that child is comforted and receives all relevant and necessary medical care. In addition to the anxiety that comes from dealing with the hospital and the medical bills, there come the legal issues of dealing with the insurance company and trying to get just compensation for your child.
You hire a competent attorney who handles your case professionally and is able to secure just compensation for your child. So, the insurance company is ready to pay the claim. South Carolina law adds a few extra steps that are applicable to personal injury settlements for minors that are designed to protect the proceeds of the minor from being wasted by the minor or by the parents. It is important to remember if a minor is injured, he / she can not receive the proceeds directly but the money does have to be preserved for the minor until the age of majority. In short, the money does not belong to the parents!
ANY SETTLEMENT OF A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM FOR A MINOR OVER $2,500.00 MUST BE APPROVED BY A SOUTH CAROLINA COURT
For purposes of minor settlements, the amount that is to be reviewed is the net amount that is to be paid to the minor, not the total settlement.
- Example: If the total settlement paid by the insurance company is $100,000.00, and after attorneys fees, medical bills, and costs, the child receives $30,000.00, then $30,000.00 is the amount used by South Carolina Courts to determine how and where the settlement is approved.
IF THE CHILD IS TO RECEIVE $25,000 OR MORE
If a minor child receives a net personal injury settlement of $25,000 or more, then the settlement must be approved by a South Carolina Circuit Court judge. The judge will determine if the settlement is in the child's best interest. This process involves the filing of a verified petition before the court stating the terms of the settlement and how the settlement serves the best interest of the child.
South Carolina statutes provide for two ways for the money to be held for the minor:
- Appoint a Conservator. A conservator is someone appointed in a separate court hearing in Probate Court. The job of the conservator is to handle the minor's settlement money. The conservator will usually do this by depositing the funds in trust into an interest bearing bank account. The Probate Court of the county where the child resides will make this appointment. The conservator can not release any of the funds without a Court order. A parent can be a conservator, if qualified. A conservator must post a bond in probate court. The conservator must file an annual report with the Probate Court, accounting for the money of the minor child. When the child turns 18, the conservator is required to give all the money to the child.
- Accept a Structured Settlement. This option has become increasingly popular as a way to avoid the appointment of a conservator. The money is put in an annuity, a type of insurance policy designed to protect the money and earn interest. Instead of a single payment to the child at age 18, the parents choose when the child gets money and in what amounts. Generally, the parents choose different amounts to be paid to the child annually, usually from ages 18 to 25. It gives parents more options and peace of mind knowing that even if the child can not get access to the settlement in a lump sum and waste it quickly.
IF THE CHILD IS TO RECEIVE $10,000.00 UP TO $24,999.99
If, for some reason, the child had a conservator appointed prior to receiving the settlement in the above amounts, then court approval is not required and the settlement can be paid directly to the conservator. Without a conservator already in place, the settlement must be approved by either the South Carolina Circuit Court or the Probate Court of the county where the child resides. If a lawsuit was filed, the approval must come from the Circuit Court. If the settlement was reached prior to the filing of a lawsuit, the Probate Court can approve the settlement. This is an important distinction because in most cases, a hearing can be had in Probate Court a lot faster than in Circuit Court. Either court will require a conservator to receive the money, unless you use a structured settlement.
IF THE CHILD IS TO RECEIVE $2,500.00 UP TO $9,999.99
If the minor child receives a settlement in this range, then the court is not required to appoint a conservator. The Court does reserve the right to appoint one if it feels a conservator would serve the best interest of the child. The statute for payments inside of this range allow the payment to be made directly to a parent or legal guardian if a conservator is not appointed. Structured settlements may still be used here as well.
IF THE CHILD IS TO RECEIVE $2,500.00 OR LESS
If the child gets $2,500 or less, the parents or legal guardians can settle the claim without any court intervention.
PROTECTION OF SETTLEMENT PROCEEDS FOR CHARLESTON, SC AND SUMMERVILLE, SC CHILDREN
As a Personal Injury lawyer in my solo practice, I will take all necessary steps to protect the rights of your child and work to secure compensation for the injuries suffered by your child. Being a small firm allows you to have direct access to your lawyer during this entire process, with open lines of communication as we work together towards a viable solution to your specific case.
Being an experienced personal injury attorney, I have experience dealing with insurance companies. I also know where the courthouse is and will not be afraid to call the insurance company to the mat in front of a judge and jury if necessary.
If you have a minor child that has been injured in Charleston, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley, Goose Creek, Moncks Corner, North Charleston, or any of the other fine communities of the Low Country, and need to meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please contact me to set up your free case evaluation today. Let me help prevent you from being taken advantage of by the insurance company. I am serious and I am here for you! Contact The McMillian Law Firm today @ 843-900-1306