During a bad snow day, my daughters school bus ran up a curb, tore down live power lines, and bumped into another school bus on the opposite curb. My daughter endured a wrist injury documented by an orthopedist.
My question is this: Will her settlement go into Probate until she is of legal age, or will the settlement go to her parents for her present needs? She is in need of silly things: a bed frame, dresser, and cloths. While I am her mother, and did provide my time, money, transportation for her care, I could care less about the money ~ except that I could make her life a little nicer now. Still, with that, if the money does go to Probate, what about the bills, and attorney fees? Are they just expected to wait until she is 18, or will I have be responsible for them now?
In Ohio, minor settlements are supposed to be submitted to the probate court for approval. This process helps ensure that the minor is receiving adequate compensation for their injuries, that the attorney fees and costs are reasonable and to ensure that the funds are secured for the use of the minor once they have reached the age of majority. However, many local probate courts will adopt their own rules and regulations concerning minor settlements. You should review the local rules of your probate court as well as the rules set forth in the Ohio Revised Code § 2111.18 as well as the other applicable statutes.
Most probate courts will allow the minor, by and through the parents or guardian, to petition the court for access to some of the funds in emergency situations. Frequently, courts will allow a portion of the settlement to go towards educational expenses, medical expenses and other unique situations. The attorney fees and medical expenses are frequently submitted to the probate court for approval and taken care of prior to the close of the case.
If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact an attorney who is familiar with this area of law.
Typically, minor settlement proceeds are deposited into a restricted savings account or invested for the minor's benefit. Your lawyer will move the probate court to accept the settlement terms, and order payment of attorney fees, attorney expenses, and medical expenses now- not when the minor turns 18. Then the proceeds for the minor will go into an account or investment.
The other lawyers here are right: the court may allow withdrawals for educational / medical expenses. However, courts usually presume that as the child's parent, you are responsible for her needs re: bed frame, dressers, clothes, etc.
In many states, distribution of proceeds from personal injury claims for minors are strictly regulated by statutes. For instance, in WA, when a suit is filed and a settlement or verdict is obtained, a guardian is usually assigned by the court/judge, and that guardian makes a set of recommendations about distribution such as compensating parents for various expenses.
It sounds like your daughter has already received a settlement, and I wonder why you haven't referred to a secure account held in trust or other safeguard for the funds until she reaches the age of 18.
On the other hand, if you are in the process of pursuing a claim, go to an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you with the claim against the driver and other potential defendants. Keep in mind that the claim settlement mostly will be limited by the expenses for past and future expenses associated with the bodily injury your daughter suffered, any chronic pain or disability/loss of use, along with her pain and suffering.
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