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Personal Injury Settlement Guide For Minors in Washington

Steps to Securing a Settlement for Washington Child Injury Cases
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Key Takeaways:

  • A child who was injured due to someone else’s negligence may be entitled to compensation in the state of Washington.
  • Awarded settlements are typically put in a blocked account until the child turns 18 years old.
  • The district court will appoint a guardian who will ensure the settlement reached is in the child’s best interests.
  • The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) dictates that a minor’s settlement must be protected from anyone, including the minor’s parents.

When your child is hurt, the emotional toll is hard enough to deal with on its own, but the situation can be even worse when you know that your child’s injury was caused by someone else’s negligence. Fortunately, it is possible to pursue compensation through a legal claim, and the Washington courts are designed to oversee fair and just settlements in these kinds of cases.

To receive compensation, you need to compile a claim that can hold up under scrutiny. Insurance companies will always fight against you with counterclaims, and they have the resources to build a strong case. Find out how you can fight back with help from McPartland Law Offices.

The Role Parents Play in a Child Injury Settlement

When a child is injured, it is up to their parent or guardian to represent their interests in the settlement process. This is because minors cannot legally sign contracts or enter into agreements, including settlement agreements from insurance companies. Because this responsibility falls on your shoulders, it is in your best interest to get a personal injury lawyer on your side who has experience with child injuries and is willing to take the case all the way through the trial date.

Parents should also work to meet the statute of limitations if they want to make a claim. Car accidents, for example, have a three-year statute of limitations. However, children who are injured have the option of filing within three years of the accident OR within three years of turning 18 years old.

How are Minors’ Cases Resolved in Washington State?

Washington state requires that any agreement resulting from a child injury be approved by a Court. A judge must approve any agreement or settlement involving a child injury to be valid. This applies regardless of whether the initial personal injury claim was filed in court.

Settlements in small claims court can be sizable even after fees. To avoid issues with minors handling large sums, settlements are often structured to provide funds once the child turns 18.

What Does the Settlement Guardian ad Litem Do?

A mother and her child speaking to a child injury attorney

A Settlement Guardian ad Litem (SGAL) is a person who is appointed by the court to represent the child because they are too young to do it on their own under Washington law. This appointed guardian must submit a report to receive a judge’s approval on any minor’s settlement.

Note that the guardian ad litem must meet certain requirements to qualify. They must be a lawyer with at least five years of legal experience in relevant areas. They must also not have any conflicts of interest with the injured child, the child’s parents, or anyone legally responsible for the medical care of the injured child.

When Does the Court Release a Child Injury Settlement?

A child’s injury settlement is typically put in a blocked account or financial plan after a parent/guardian signs documents from the insurance company once a judge signs the Order Approving Minor Settlement, for which the parent/guardian should receive a return receipt. This blocked account will not be accessible by anyone other than the minor child when they reach the age of 18. Of course, the child, now 18, will have to attend a simple hearing to get a court order to release the settlement funds.

Can Parents Spend Their Child’s Personal Injury Settlement?

No, parents are not permitted to spend their child’s personal injury settlement. Blocked bank accounts are not accessible by parents in order to protect the settlement and ensure that it goes to the injured child.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Child Injury Settlements

Can I Spend Part of My Child’s Settlement on Something They Need?

You may be able to spend part of your child’s settlement on something they need, but you must get court approval first. You must submit a request document (found at with detailed information to the court clerk and await determination in your small claims case before you can access any money in the settlement.

A washington child injuries lawyer speaking to a family about a case

What Expenses Does the Court Approve From a Child’s Settlement?

The court’s default judgment will approve expenses from a child’s settlement that are deemed necessary and in the child’s best interest. As a disclaimer, the court rules are generally more generous the closer the child is to age 18. For example, a court is likely to approve taking money from their settlement to cover the cost of college tuition if the child is 17.

Why Clients Choose McPartland Law Offices

McPartland Law Offices understands how stressful a child injury can be, which is why we are happy to put our experience to work for your case. You will stay up-to-date with all aspects of your case from beginning to end, including overseeing your minor’s settlement being released to them on their 18th birthday. Take a look at what some of our previous clients have had to say about our legal advice and services.

Client Testimonials

“My family and I had the opportunity to work with Bryce and his team during a very difficult time in our lives. The service and representation that McPartland Law Offices provided was absolutely exceptional. I was thoroughly impressed by their professionalism, knowledge, and ability to help us understand everything throughout the entire process. To say they left no stone unturned would be an understatement. I will be forever grateful for the compassion and dedication consistently demonstrated by Bryce and his team. I highly recommend McPartland Law Offices.” — Claudia V.

“I feel that the entire staff is totally connected and truly looking out for their clients’ welfare. Hard to find nowadays.” — Bill B.

Contact a Child Injury Lawyer At McPartland Law Offices

When your child is injured due to someone else’s negligence, they deserve proper compensation. With help from McPartland Law Offices, you can set your child up for success with legal representation from experienced injury attorneys who will work in your child’s best interest. Contact our team today about your minor personal injury case by calling our phone number at 509-495-1247 or filling out our online contact form for a free consultation.