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Settlement of Minor’s Personal Injury Cases in Pennsylvania
In, Pennsylvania, the Settlement of Minor’s personal injury cases, that is, anyone under the age of 18, requires approval by a Judge. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2039 requires that any claim involving a Minor as a party must have a Court Order approving the settlement of the case. Rule 2039(a) says that “No action to which a minor is a party shall be compromised, settled or discontinued except after approval by the court pursuant to a petition presented by the guardian of the minor.”
A Petition is a legal paper requesting the Court take action. The parent or legal guardian must filed with the Court a Petition for Minor’s Compromise. This is a legal document that is or should typically be filed by a lawyer on your behalf. The Petition will tell the Court what the amount of the settlement is, what the case was about, it will include relevant medical records and any legal costs and fees. The parent or legal guardian must sign a verification that they believe the settlement is fair and reasonable. The Judge will then schedule the case for a hearing.
At the hearing, the parent or legal guardian must be there with the child. The Court will look to determine whether the settlement is fair and reasonable first. They want to protect the interests of children. The Judge will go by the medical records and the child’s current medical condition. The other reason a Court Order is needed is because Minors can not enter into contracts or agreements and in Pennsylvania a contract entered by a parent on behalf of a Minor might be nullified by the Minor once they turn 18.
Usually, at the hearing, the Judge will have the parent or legal guardian of the minor sworn in and ask them questions about the medical treatment, the condition of the child, how the injury happened and whether the parent understands that the settlement of the case is final..
If the Minor’s personal injury settlement is approved by the Court, the Judge will require that the funds payable to the minor go into an FDIC interest-bearing account until the child turns 18. The funds will not be permitted to be withdraw without a Court Order approving (it would require extenuating circumstances such as medical bills or a legitimate emergency). If the case involves an insurance company paying a settlement, then that Insurer will be aware of these Rules. You would need to provide them with the Court Order approving the settlement before they will send a settlement check.