How to Obtain Acceptance of a Personal Injury Settlement for a Minor in California?

According to California Civil Code section 1556, minors cannot contract. Thus, when counsel is seeking to settle a personal injury matter on behalf of a minor in California, court approval is generally required.

The California probate court has created procedures to follow in minor’s compromise actions. Generally, the settlement must be approved by the probate court in compliance with Probate Code section 2505. According to this Section, if no civil action is pending then the settlement must be approved in either the superior court of the county where the minor resides at the time of the petition for approval is filed or the superior court in any county where a suit on the claim or matter could properly be brought. If a civil action is pending, then the settlement must be approved in the court in which the action is pending.

There are forms available through the superior court’s website that are required to be filed to obtain court approval for the settlement of the minor’s action. MC-350 - “Petition to Approve Compromise of Disputed Claim or Pending Action of Disposition of Proceeds of Judgment for minor or Person with a Disability” form (MC-350) and related forms. Under certain circumstances a party can file an expedited petition form (MC-350EX). The MC-350EX petitions can be granted without a hearing absent objection or the court’s decision to set a hearing. Per Cal. Rule of Court 7.950.5, a claim qualifies for the MC-350EX form if all the following exist:

(1) The petitioner is represented by an attorney

(2) Claim is not for damages for wrongful death

(3) No portion of the settlement is to be placed in a trust

(4) There are no unresolved disputes concerning liens to be satisfied from the proceeds of the compromise, settlement, or judgment

(5) Attorney is unrelated to the person against whom the claim is asserted or the insurance carrier of said person

(6) Attorney is neither employed or associated with defendant or defendant’s insurance

(7) If action filed, all defendants have appeared and court determined that settling parties entered into settlement in good faith

(8) Settlement is less than $50,000 or, if greater, is the policy limit

(9) Court does not otherwise order.

If the expedited form is inapplicable to the matter, then the court will set a hearing date after the petition has been properly filed.

Our office recently filed an expedited petition requesting court approval on a settlement for our minor client’s personal injury matter. After filing the petition for court approval, the court accepted our petition and granted our request! We will now be able to provide this court approval to the defendant’s insurance adjustor and the settlement will be provided!

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