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When I was younger I was in a car accident. We got a settlement, but I can't touch it until I'm 18, How can I get some out?

Reno, NV |

I'd say the settlement was about $17K.. I am currently 16 (almost 17.)
I need the money for official reasons. I live with a single parent who is in all honestly working her butt off to provide, she has a car that gets her to work, but I cannot use it- she feels it is dangerous since it is not safe in the snow. I am looking at a car that is $9,000, that would provide both my mom and I with safe transportation for me to get to school and get a job so I can help with monthly costs. It has 80K miles on it & will last me well through college. I have never been in trouble with the law and currently attain a 4.0 GPA in school. Is it possible for me to get exactly $9,000 out of my account if it is under my moms control? Do I write a letter to the courts? How would I go about this? What helps me?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Sounds like you are a very devoted and dedicated son. You deserve to be commended. Your mother needs to contact the attorney who represented you in the lawsuit. The attorney would petition the court for withdrawal of the funds. A judge would review the matter and decide if this is in your "best interests". You have a bright future.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff www.nyelderinjurylaw.com


  2. Mr. Adams nailed this answer. If there was no attorney or the attorney is simply not around, you an go to the court and petition for funds yourself. That is a relatively simple process.

    Good luck!

    In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.


  3. I dont think anyone nailed anything here. Before thinking about possibly answering the question we need to look at the actual trust language or other language controlling the account, such as a court order when the settlement account was set up. I know that you want the car and you've made a convincing argument. But, cars wear out and crash. Your future needs will remain.

    There are some minor settlements that do allow for ongoing discretionery spending if deemed in the best interest of the minor. Others require a wait. You are a minor. Your parent or guardian at the time of the settlement would need to discuss this with the attorney who set up the account.

    Sorry. I'm not in the business of giving people the answers they want, but the answers that give perspective I wish you the best.

    Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers, North Andover, MA & Derry, NH provide answers for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be given by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction, thoroughly familiar with the area of the law in which your concern lies. This creates no attorney-client relationship.


  4. Taking into account Nevada's preference to consider a minor's best interest, an approach that is also supported by federal law, we conclude that NRS 41.200 allows the district court to assess the reasonableness of a petition to approve the compromise of a minor's claim and to ensure that approval of the proposed compromise is in the minor's best interest. This review necessarily entails the authority to review each portion of the proposed compromise for reasonableness and to adjust the terms of the settlement accordingly, including the fees and costs to be taken from the minor's recovery.3 Abrams, 605 F.3d at 244. With this in mind, we address the district court's review of Ashley's proposed compromise and reallocation of attorney fees.

    II. Modification of the proposed compromise of Ashley's claim

    To recall, the proposed compromise of Ashley's claim allocated $109,187.26 to petitioner Gellner and $20,100 to petitioner Haley. In approving the compromise, the district court reallocated $63,466 .77 as fees and costs to “attorneys” without further explanation. Petitioners now assert that the modified distribution was unfair, arguing that it unreasonably reduced Gellner's recovery and failed to provide compensation for Haley as guardian ad litem.4

    Although NRS 41.200 is silent as to the standard for a district court to apply when reviewing a petition to approve the compromise of a minor's claim, we have otherwise applied a “fair and reasonable” approach for reviewing a lower court's decision to approve a settlement in which incompetent parties are involved. Mainor v. Nault, 120 Nev. 750, 758–59, 101 P.3d 308, 314 (2004). Similarly, district courts have great discretion to award attorney fees, and this discretion is tempered only by reason and fairness. Shuette v. Beazer Homes Holdings Corp., 121 Nev. 837, 864, 124 P.3d 530, 548–49 (2005). “[I]n determining the amount of fees to award, the court is not limited to one specific approach; its analysis may begin with any method rationally designed to calculate a reasonable amount,” so long as the requested amount is reviewed in light of the factors set forth in Brunzell v. Golden Gate National Bank, 85 Nev. 345, 349, 455 P.2d 31, 33 (1969). Shuette, 121 Nev. at 864–65, 125 P.3d at 549.

    Here, the record demonstrates the district court's requisite consideration of the Brunzell factors in reaching its decision. See Brunzell, 85 Nev. at 349, 455 P.2d at 33 (directing the district court to consider four factors in calculating the reasonableness of attorney fees: (1) the qualities of the attorney, (2) the character of the work to be done, (3) the actual work performed by the attorney, and (4) the case's result). To begin, the district court reviewed Gellner's contingency fee agreement and the extensive briefing by the parties before reaching its decision. The district court then referenced Gellner's limited experience as a medical malpractice attorney. In considering the complex nature of Ashley's claims, the district court also highlighted Gellner's role in complicating the matter by noting the many amended motions, dismissals, and time-barred complaints resulting from attorney oversight. Finally, the district court balanced Ashley's lifelong special needs and potential for a multimillion dollar judgment against the proposed payment.

    Thus, in light of this case's surrounding circumstances, the district court acted within its broad discretion by concluding that the proposed allocation to petitioner Gellner was unreasonable. Accordingly, we deny writ relief in this regard.

    The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Howard Roitman, Esq. and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.


  5. My colleagues are generally correct. To get money out before you are 18, your mom must petition the court on your behalf for an early withdrawal of funds. However, I need warn you that getting $9K is NOT likely. First, that is an expensive vehicle. Second, the explanation of not being able to use your mom's vehicle doesn't make any sense, as snow is not a constant issue but only temporary. That argument causes one to question whether you are on mom's insurance or not, as that may be the reason she does not allow you to drive. You have a vehicle in the household, so transportation is an issue of convenience, not necessity. Third, buying the vehicle is only the beginning. It must be insured, smogged, registered, have gas put in it, and be maintained. You would need a budget for these expenses and an explanation as to how they would be paid. Finally, a minor cannot purchase or own a vehicle, so in reality this money would be going to your mom to buy a vehicle for you -- and the vehicle would be in her name to do with as she pleases (including selling it and keeping the money, or buying a cheaper vehicle and pocketing the difference). Here in Northern Nevada, I have seen petitions of this nature routinely denied. Our Judges want you to wait until you are 18 to have that money so whatever you buy truly belongs to you, absent a true necessity.

    Responses are for general information purposes only, and are based on the extremely limited facts given. A consultation with an attorney experienced in the area of law(s) indicated in the question is highly recommended. Information and advice given here should not be relied upon for any final action or decision, as the information is limited by its nature to the question asked and the fact(s) presented in that question. THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY/CLIENT RELATIONSHIP, particularly considering that the names of the parties are unknown.


  6. The rules governing your settlement proceeds are found in NRS 41.200, the statute addressing the "establishment [of a] financial investment for proceeds of compromise." As you know, Nevada Law required that your settlement be protected from third parties until your 18th birthday. The statute clearly states that the benefiary of the account/investment "may obtain control of" the money by obtaining an order from the Court "which held the compromise hearing." See, NRS 41.200(6). Accordingly, I suggest that you contact the attorney who negotiated the settlement and request that he or she Petition to the Court with your request. Based upon the fact that you are so close to achieving majority, and the fact that your goals are admirable, I expect the Court will comply.

    I hope you find this response helpful, and encourage you to contact me if you need assistance.

    lstone@shookandstone.com
    www.shookandstone.com

    My response is not intended nor shall it be deemed to be the rendering of legal advice. This response should not be construed as part of the creation of an Attorney-Client Relationship, nor does it impose any obligation on my part to respond to further inquiry. I encourage the Questioner to obtain legal advice from a formally retained attorney.

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