Breaking Down a Minor Settlement in Seattle
The Supreme Court has held that underage individuals have basically the same legal rights as people over 18. Forming a contract, including a settlement agreement, is the primary exception. Car crashes and other personal injury incidents often injure children. So, attorneys must make special arrangements in these cases. Since over 95 percent of these matters settle out of court, they must make these special arrangements a lot.
Establishing the Settlement Value
Settlement negotiations, like purchase or sale negotiations, begin with an asking price. A Seattle personal injury lawyer must carefully set the asking price, or the settlement value. High figures discourage negotiations and low figures usually lead to cut-rate final figures.
Medical bills are usually the largest component of a settlement value in a child injury case. Future medical bills can be included in the settlement, if a doctor testifies that future treatment will be necessary.
Compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, are also included in a settlement. These can be difficult to value. To determine this portion of a settlement, Seattle personal injury lawyers consider the severity of the injuries, the amount of treatment, the need for future medical treatment, the permanence of injuries, and similar factors.
Usually, settlement money becomes available when the victim turns 18. If the victim was a young child, a moderate settlement could become a huge settlement over time. That’s assuming the victim can put the money into a high-interest account.
Negotiating a Settlement
Some injury claims settle almost immediately. But in most cases, questions about liability (legal responsibility for injury) and damages (amount of compensation) delay settlements in minor injury cases.
As mentioned, most children have the same rights as most adults. Therefore, their injury claims are subject to insurance company defenses, such as comparative fault. This legal loophole basically shifts the blame for an injury from the tortfeasor (negligent actor) to someone else, such as the vehicle’s driver.
As for damages, insurance company lawyers typically use the aforementioned time value of money factor to reduce compensation. $10,000 now might be $50,000 when the child turns 18. The key phrase is “might be.” The child might have more or less settlement money when s/he turns 18. Furthermore, victims are entitled to fair settlements now, not later.
Often, a third-party mediator supervises settlement negotiations, helps the parties get past these issues, and crafts a fair settlement.
Work With a Compassionate King County Lawyer
Child injury victims, like all others, are entitled to fair compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Seattle, contact Emerald Law Group. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.