Thomas McCutcheon

Q: My child was in a car accident while riding with another parent. Someone ran a stop sign. My child has medical bills and missed about a week of school. The insurance company for the other driver has offered to pay my child’s medical bills and give her $5,000.00 but said it would have to be approved by the court. Is that right?

Julianne, Muscle Shoals, AL

A: Yes, that’s correct. There is a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act that governs how much money can be transferred to a minor. The age of majority in Alabama is 19. Typically, the Court orders that money be held in an interest bearing account until the child turns 19.

The Court will appoint a lawyer who will act as a “Guardian ad Litem”. The GAL will talk to the child and the parents. They may review some medical records to get a sense of the seriousness of the injuries.

Hopefully a GAL will look at each injury individually. I think sometimes people not involved in personal injury tend to focus on the major injury whether it’s a broken finger or a broken arm and never consider the road rash injury or sprained ankle. It’s important to consider each and every injury individually.

After the GAL has the opportunity to investigate the matter, the Court will schedule a hearing. The Court will want to know what the injuries were and how they have affected the child. The Court will want to know if the child has made a full or partial recovery. The Court will want to hear from the parents and the child and will consider the recommendations of the GAL.

Courts are free to decline to accept a settlement if the Court believes it is inadequate. The Court will want to make sure the money is held for the minor child or used in a way approved by the Court for the child.

The Court will order the insurance company to pay a reasonable fee to the Guardian ad Litem for their time involved in the investigation and that will not be deducted from the settlement of the child.

I hope your daughter has recovered. Cooperate with the Guardian ad Litem and share your feelings and observations about how your child is doing following the accident.

Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated! 256-764-0112

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