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How Are Minor Settlement Claims Managed in Florida Courts?

How Are Minor Settlement Claims Managed in Florida Courts?

How Are Minor Settlement Claims Managed in Florida Courts? 1080 1080 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

We handle a range of case types for families in our community and sometimes they involve representing a child who may have been injured due to the negligence of another. In the event of a minor settlement claims agreement, Florida courts have special mandates to protect the child depending on the amount of the settlement.

Court Approval Rules for Minor Settlement Claims in Florida 

In Florida, when an insurance settlement involving a child exceeds $15,000 it prompts a complex court approval process under the state’s “Global Settlement Rule.” Additionally, any settlement in a case that benefits a child that has a gross settlement amount of $50,000 or more requires court approval, regardless of the net amount benefitting the child. 

When a minor settlement reaches the $50,000 threshold, a guardian ad litem, or court-appointed representative is required by the courts to ensure payments are received and managed in the best interest of the child. This representative may be a legal guardian if the court finds no conflict of interest. 

Settlements may be subject to being voided if a party does not closely follow these statutes and probate rules. One of the most notable recent cases where this happened was in Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in Allen v. Montalvan

Court approval may or may not be necessary when the settlement is less than $50,000. Here is an overview of the rules in Florida: Minor Settlements Flow Chart

If a gross settlement does not exceed $15,000:

  • Court approval is not required unless civil action is filed
  • Legal guardianship is not required
  • Guardian ad litem, or court-appointed representative, is not required

If a gross settlement is between $15,000.01 and $49,999.99: 

  • Court approval is required
  • Legal guardianship is not required if the net settlement to the minor does not exceed $15,000
  • Legal guardianship is required if the net settlement to the minor exceeds $15,000
  • A court-appointed representative is not required but is within the court’s discretion to decide

If a gross settlement is $50,000 or greater: 

  • Court approval is required
  • Legal guardianship is required
  • A court-appointed representative is required but may be waived by the court if the legal guardian has no conflict of interest

 

Protecting Minor Settlements Until Adulthood

It is critical to retain an experienced lawyer before settling any minor claims. A lawyer will assist in determining if court approval is required for the minor’s settlement and if a court-appointed guardian is needed.  

After parties reach a settlement in a case involving a child, an attorney may also help families protect the payments in the best interest of the minor involved. Sometimes, the attorney will help families establish a structured settlement or an annuity that the minor may collect from when they are 18 years old or older. In other instances, structured settlements may not be appropriate. Every case is different and a lawyer can help determine the best course of action. 

At Panter, Panter & Sampedro, we work to ensure that our clients are cared for and that settlement funds are protected to support future expenses. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation at (305) 662-6178.

 

Sources: 

 

Florida Probate Law Group (2019, November 8). Lessons in Global Settlements involving Minors. Retrieved from: https://floridaprobatelawgroup.com/2019/11/08/lessons-in-global-settlements-involving-minors/

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