Let’s talk about a situation where someone under 18 is injured in an accident. They are considered a minor. Those cases are handled a little bit differently when it comes to settlement. In Ohio, someone under 18 cannot enter into a contract. You cannot own any property and are not necessarily entitled to the same legal rights that an adult is. The parents or guardian have to handle the personal injury case for them.
So let’s take this scenario. Let us say that my minor child, 16-year old, is driving his car when he is hit from behind by an at fault driver. My son sustains injuries, gets medical treatment, and we eventually settle his case. What do we do with that case? In order to receive the settlement we have to sign a document called a release. The release basically says that the other driver and their insurance company will no longer be liable or responsible for any damages after they pay us the settlement amount.
But here is the problem, the minor is only 16. He can’t legally sign that document so what do you do? Well, a Court is one that handles the situation. We go to Probate Court and we file an application to settle a minor’s claim. Probate Court will give us a hearing date and we will go in with the minor and their parents. The insurance company will normally send an attorney along as well, and the magistrate or the judge will agree to the settlement.
Then what do you do with the money? Well the majority of the time you have to take that money and deposit it into a protected account an account that no funds can be taken from until the minor turns 18. Once the minor turns 18, they go to the bank with their driver’s license, prove their age, and then recover their funds. So, if you have someone under the age of 18 who has been injured in an accident, that does not mean they are going to be able to recover their money right away.
They may very well have to wait until they turn 18 in order to receive their settlement money. This also true in a wrongful death situation. For example, if there are minors who are heirs of the decedent. What would happen is, in even to of a settlement, any money going to that minor would be put in to an account until they reach a certain age. A lot of Probate Courts will not give the money to the minor in those situations when turn 18. Sometimes it may go to 21 or even 25.
You need to have an attorney that knows how to handle these cases, and how to work with the insurance companies and the Probate Court. If you have a case similar to this feel free to give us a call, we will more than happy to sit down with you, discuss your case and see if we can help you. Thank you.
If you know a minor that has been involved in an accident, call the Flickinger Legal Group, LLC today at (614) 944-5055 for your free consultation. With over 30 years of legal experience, Russ and Justin are well experienced and ready to handle your case!