Florida Child Settlement Rules
September 21, 2016
Florida child settlement rules seek to protect children who have suffered personal injury to ensure that:
- The settlement is fair and in the best interests of the child
- The parents or guardians don’t frivolously spend the settlement proceeds before the child reaches 18 years of age
Court approval guidelines for minor settlement in Florida are based on the gross settlement amount and net settlement amount. The gross settlement amount refers to the total settlement amount before attorney’s fees, costs, and medical liens. The net settlement amount refers to the amount that will ultimately be paid to the minor after all fees, costs, and liens are paid.
See our flowchart here for a visual breakdown of the child injury rules in Florida.
Click here to learn about children benefitting from global settlements.
The following notes the general thresholds for which court approval is required.Gross Settlement is $15,000.00 or Less
If the insurance company has offered a settlement on behalf of an injured minor that is $15,000.00 or less, court approval is not required. Exception: If you have already filed a civil action against the negligent party, court approval is required.
Absent the filing of a civil action, the child’s parents have full authority to settle the child’s claim and sign a release without court approval.Gross Settlement is Over $15,000.00, But Less Than $50,000.00
When the offer to settle a child’s injury claim is over $15,000.00, but less than $50,000.00, the net settlement becomes increasingly important.
If after payment of attorney’s fees, cost, medical liens, et cetera, the child will receive less than $15,000.00, court approval is required; however a legal guardianship is not. Therefore, although court approval of the settlement is required, once approved, the parent’s will have the legal authority to execute a release of claims as the child’s natural guardians. Further, no restrictions will be placed on the proceeds received by the minor.
If a minor will receive more than $15,000.00 after payment of attorney’s fees, costs, liens, et cetera, as settlement for their personal injury claim, court approval of the settlement is required and a legal guardianship must be created. Therefore, the parents or professional guardian must apply and be legally appointed as the guardian of the property for the minor’s assets before the court will approve the settlement. Absent appointment as legal guardians of the property, the parent’s are not legally authorized to execute a release of the minor’s claim. Once appointed and settlement approved, the minor’s portion of the funds will be placed in a restricted account. The restricted account prevents withdrawal from the minor’s account without prior court approval to thwart frivolous or improper expenditures. Alternatively, the child’s settlement may be placed into an annuity after the appointment of a guardian of the property.Gross Settlement is $50,000.00 or Greater
If an injured minor received a settlement offer of $50,000.000 or more before payment of attorney’s fees, costs, liens, et cetera, court approval of the settlement is required, as well as a legal guardianship and appointment of a attorney ad litem. Therefore, before approving the settlement, the court will require, in addition to a legal guardianship being established, a report from a personal injury attorney who has no connection to the minor’s case as to whether or not the settlement seems appropriate under the circumstances.
If you obtain a settlement offer for the personal injury of a minor in Florida, the requirement for court approval, a legal guardian of the minor’s property, and an attorney ad litem is dictated by the amount of the settlement and the portion that will ultimately be distributed to the minor.
It is crucial to understand the intricacies of minor settlement approval to:
- Get paid faster (your firm and your client)
- Avoid having an executed release later rendered ineffective
Florida Probate Law Group works with personal injury attorneys across the state of Florida to help their firms make more money and get paid faster on child injury and wrongful death claims. Call (352) 354-2654 today to speak with one of our attorneys to determine if court approval of a minor’s settlement is required.