During the past 35 years, I have represented countless parents in wrecks where their children were unfortunately injured. Until a child reaches the age of 18, he or she cannot receive any money from a verdict or out-of-court settlement. As a result, a guardian ad litem must be appointed by the court to protect the legal interests of the minor.
I help children who have been injured in automobile or truck wrecks recover compensation for their injuries. In addition, courts have appointed me as a GAL on many occasions to assist in other injury attorneys’ cases.
I take especial care when I represent children who have lost their parents in automobile and truck accidents. I am working on a tragic case now where the mother was riding on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle and was killed, leaving three children in two states. One also doesn’t have a father so we are trying to make sure his future needs are taken care of. I got the grandparents to graciously agree to forego their share of the insurance policy they were entitled to so that the children will each receive one-third, not one-fifth, of the available funds.
I consider not only whether the dollar amount is fair but the most appropriate means of delivery. For example, I often recommend establishing a structured annuity so the funds grow and are protected until the child reaches adulthood and can responsibly manage her or his own finances. It is a mistake to give an 18 year old all of his money on that date, so payment schedules are critical. Hopefully the student will attend college and have money available for tuition, books, and room and board.
If the motor vehicle crash results in a disability, a special needs trust allows a person with a disability to access the money without jeopardizing his Social Security disability benefits.
These kids have a right to have ethical, knowledgeable legal representation. They deserve to be treated with respect and compassion during a difficult time and to know that their future is secure.