A child hurt in a South Carolina accident has the same legal right to a settlement as an adult, but children under 18 can't make legal decisions. A parent or guardian does it for them—making you responsible for settlement decisions.
There's no doubt you'll answer to your child for it one day. We want to help make you proud of that answer.
Because a child's case requires extreme legal care, you need to know the risks and complexities you face by going it alone. The three major concerns in a child's accident case are:
- Children's settlements are valued differently because they suffer more acutely, and permanent injury lasts longer.
- Children's settlements require a judge's approval before they can be paid.
- Most children's settlement money is protected by law, meaning it's required to be held in legally-approved funds with restricted access.
We'll expand these topics below.
There's More at Stake in a South Carolina's Child's Accident Settlement Because Children Suffer More and Permanent Injuries Are Worse
As any parent knows, there's nothing worse than watching your child suffer. We understand that, too. We generally don't use the phrase "pain and suffering,” because that's only part of a settlement for what you go through due to injuries. Instead, we call it "human loss,” because that more accurately captures what we seek a settlement for: the harm and loss to your child as a unique little person.
When a child suffers permanent injuries, they are more serious than an adult's because they last longer. That's got to be taken into consideration when you settle a child's accident case. Often, we meet with your child's doctors to help prove the extent of the permanent injury, including one of the most important considerations: the cost of future medical care, which must be proven under strict legal requirements to qualify for a settlement.
These two primary features of a child's case mean there's naturally more at stake in your child's injury case. The last thing a parent wants to do is fail their child. You can bet the insurance company and its adjuster will be ruthless in their quest to keep money out of your child's hands, no matter how much it's needed or deserved.
To get an idea of how complicated determining how much to ask for in a child's settlement is, check out this article about all the factors involved in adult cases.
QUICK PRO TIP: Pay your child's accident medical bills with health insurance or Medicaid, just like any other bill.
Don't risk enabling the insurance company to take advantage of you and cheat your child. Let us do the hard work in figuring out a fair settlement for your child. We'll also do the dirty work handling insurance adjuster tactics. We're professional Spartanburg personal injury attorneys.
Most South Carolina Child Accident Settlements Make You Go to Court
To determine whether you should go to court alone, ask yourself:
- Do I know how to prepare pleadings or court papers? If confronted with these papers from the insurance company's lawyer, will I know they're right?
- Do I know what evidence to present?
- Do I know what the judge will ask me and how to answer?
- Can I trust the insurance company's attorney to look out for my child's best interests?
Did you catch that the insurance company will have an attorney? Insurance companies are experienced in legal matters, so you can bet they'll be wise enough to have legal protection for their sake.
By requiring a judge to approve your child's settlement at a hearing, is it possible South Carolina law is trying to tell you something? When your child got hurt, you got professional medical help. You need to get your child professional legal help, too.
How Does a Parent Claim for a Child's Accident in South Carolina?
Legally, a parent "stands in their child's shoes.” Those are big shoes to fill. The result of this settlement can have lifelong implications. The parent who handles the case as the child's official legal representative is called a "guardian ad litem.”
How do you decide which parent handles a child's accident case?
- If parents are married, it's best for them to choose one. This simplifies things, allowing the attorney to deal with one person instead of two.
- If parents are divorced, the parent with primary custody generally makes legal decisions, including hiring an attorney.
How Does a Child's Settlement Get Paid in a South Carolina Accident?
Once a judge approves your child's settlement, what happens to the money? That's complicated because South Carolina law requires a child's settlement money to be protected. Most of the protection is geared toward preventing the child or a wayward parent from wasting the money.
In most cases, you've got two options: private investment (usually a structured settlement) or court supervision. The basic differences are:
- A structured settlement gives parents more options to control when the child gets the money, sometimes well into adulthood. But it may not make sense if the child's close to 18 because much of the wisdom behind these settlements is that they generate interest (more money) while awaiting payment to the child. For older children, it may not generate enough, or any. In that case, sometimes we can convince a court to allow the funds to be deposited in a protected bank account.
- Court supervision costs more, and the child gets all the money at 18.
Get an Experienced Attorney to Help You Protect Your Child's Accident Settlement
One day, maybe years from now, your child will want to know the story about the accident. Right now, give yourself the freedom to look them in the eye and tell them you went the extra mile for them by getting legal advice.
Maybe you don't want to. But that's what good parents do—things they don't want to do that are right for the child. To show how we've helped other parents like you—who may have been equally reluctant, read the stories below. Just understand that every case is unique, unique facts and law apply to create different outcomes in each case, and a past result doesn't guarantee a future one:
- Mom Overcomes Fear of Using a Lawyer and Wins Settlement in Child's Bike Accident Case Despite Police Report Blaming Child for Accident
- How We Found More Insurance to Help Children Severely Injured in a Car Accident
Reach out to us for legal advice about your child's South Carolina accident settlement. It's free, and we make it easy. You can contact us with a live chat, fill out a Get Help Now form, or call toll-free at 888-230-1841. Here's an idea of what's like to meet with us.