Court Rules - Particular Civil Proceedings - Settlements and Judgments Involving Minors and Wards
III. PARTICULAR CIVIL PROCEEDINGS
ARTICLE 10: SETTLEMENTS AND JUDGMENTS INVOLVING MINORS AND WARDS
10.01 SETTLEMENT OF MINOR'S OR WARD'S PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM, WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM OR CLAIM UNDER THE SURVIVAL STATUTE
(a) To settle a cause of action for personal injuries sustained by a minor or ward, or any other action in which a minor or ward will receive any or all of the settlement proceeds, a verified petition shall be filed executed by the legal representative of the minor, ward or the decedent's estate, and shall recite:
(1) A description of the occurrence giving rise to the cause of action.
(2) The name and address of the person or entity against whom the cause of action has accrued.
(3) The name and address of the liability insurance carrier, if any, affording coverage to the person or entity against whom the cause of action has accrued, and the monetary limits of the liability insurance policy issued by said insurance carrier in effect at the time of the occurrence.
(4) A brief description of the injuries sustained by the minor and a list of hospital and medical expenses incurred on behalf of said minor as a result of the occurrence. A current medical certificate or letter executed by the attending physician stating the nature and extent of the injuries sustained by the minor or ward and the prognosis for the minor or ward, if it exists or if it is requested by the Court. The Court may waive the provisions of this sub-paragraph 4 upon good cause shown.
(5) The petition shall contain a statement by the petitioner or the attorney for the petitioner as to the fairness of the offer and a recommendation as to whether the offer should be approved or rejected.
(b) Where the proposed settlement relates to a pending case for personal injury, the verified petition shall be heard by the judge assigned to the case.
(c) Where the proposed settlement does not relate to a pending Law case for personal injury, the verified petition shall be heard by the judge regularly assigned to hear probate matters.
(d) In cases where no independent attorney has been employed by the legal representative of the minor or ward, the Court may appoint an attorney as guardian ad litem to investigate the merits of the proposed settlement and to report his or her findings and recommendations before approval of the proposed settlement. In the event the appointed guardian ad litem does not recommend the approval of the proposed settlement, the appointed guardian ad litem shall not represent as a private attorney the legal representative or any of the parties having an interest in the case, but may continue as such guardian ad litem with reference to any revised offer of settlement so long as the legal representative has not employed independent counsel for the case. The Court shall fix an appropriate fee for the guardian ad litem to be taxed as costs in the case.
(e) In minor's personal injury cases, an allowance for attorneys' fees shall not exceed 25% of the gross settlement amount unless the attorney representing the minor in a sworn petition recites the work and hours involved or other special circumstances which would justify a higher attorney's fee to compensate the attorney fairly for the work performed, in which case the Court may fix the fee in excess of the 25% limitation.
(f) The order entered approving settlement shall provide for the distribution of the settlement funds and the filing of vouchers, which evidence receipt of any portion of the fund, with the Court within a time prescribed by the Court.
(g) When any settlement funds are to be received by a parent or legal representative on behalf of a minor child, such funds shall be required to be deposited in an account in a financial institution approved by the Court for the benefit of the minor, and shall not be withdrawn without approval by court order. The financial institution so approved by the Court shall be insured either by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or by the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC).
The Court shall continue the case to a specific date for the purpose of having a voucher from the financial institution filed. The voucher from the depository shall acknowledge receipt of the funds and a copy of the order of the Court approving settlement, and shall include the express language that "No withdrawals shall be made from this account, unless authorized by order of Court, at any time prior to (date upon which the minor will reach the age of majority)."
(h) The order entered approving settlement shall provide for the appointment of a guardian for the minor's estate and shall require the appointed guardian to file a bond pending proper deposit of the minor's funds in the financial institution approved by the Court. Upon the filing of the voucher from the financial institution acknowledging receipt of the funds and a copy of the order approving settlement, the bond may be canceled.
The requirement of a surety on the bond to be filed by the guardian of the minor's estate may be waived when the Court finds it is in the best interests of the minor's estate. In such instances, the attorney representing the interests of the minor shall have personal responsibility for depositing the funds in the approved financial institution in accordance with the order entered.
(i) A stipulation dismissing the cause of action shall be filed with the filing of the voucher from the financial institution acknowledging receipt of the funds.
(j) Where the agreement involves a structured settlement, the company providing the annuity shall be one which holds a current rating of "A" or better by Best's Insurance Guide.
(k) If the amount distributable to a minor fourteen (14) years of age or older is $750 or less, the Court in its discretion may order the amount distributed directly to the parent or guardian with whom the minor permanently resides for the benefit of the minor, or may order deposit into a financial institution approved by the Court.
(l) If the amount distributable to a minor fourteen (14) years of age or older exceeds $750 and is $10,000 or less, the Court in its discretion may order the amount distributed on behalf of the minor to be deposited into a financial institution approved by the Court or may order that proceedings be instituted pursuant to the Probate Act of 1975, as amended.
(m) If the amount distributable to a minor exceeds $10,000, or the minor is less than fourteen (14) years of age, or the distribution to the minor is to be made pursuant to a structured settlement, a proceeding shall be initiated pursuant to the Probate Act of 1975, as amended. This provision may be waived by the Court on good cause shown.
(n) Any settlement approved which is required to be administered pursuant to the Probate Act of 1975, as amended, shall be paid to the guardian of the minor and the order approving the distribution shall be effective only after the entry of any order by the Judge assigned to Probate matters approving the bond or other security required to administer the settlement and distribution.
(o) A petition for withdrawal from said account prior to the minor reaching the age of majority shall be in writing and shall state the amount in the account at the time of presenting the petition, the annual income available to the minor, the amount and purpose for the withdrawal, and the amount of the last authorization for withdrawal from the account for the same purpose.
10.02 DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS TO A MINOR PURSUANT TO JUDGMENT
The proceeds of any judgment from which a minor or ward is to receive funds shall be distributed in a manner in accord with Rule 10.01.