“In the case of infant parties, the next friend, guardian ad litem, or guardian cannot consent to a judgment or compromise without the investigation and approval by the court.”
In Re Reynolds, 206 N.C. 276, 288, 173 S.E. 789, 795 (1934) (quoting with approval McIntosh’s N.C. Practice and Procedure in Civil Cases, at page 721).
In North Carolina, technically EVERY minor settlement agreement must be adjudicated, or approved by the court. What does this mean? This means that if your child is injured, you need to hire an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your child’s rights are protected.
Adjudicating a Minor Settlement
A minor settlement typically requires 1) the filing of a complaint in the proper court, 2) the petition for a guardian ad litem, 3) an order granting the petition for a guardian ad litem, 4) a petition for the approval of a minor settlement, and 5) a judgment approving the minor’s settlement. An experienced attorney should be able to navigate this formal and confusing process.
Proceeds from a Minor Settlement
The proceeds from a minor settlement are usually deposited into the Clerk of Court office where the complaint is filed. The funds are kept secure until the minor turns 18.
Waiver of Court Approval
Sometimes insurance carriers are willing to waive the requirement of court approval. This typically occurs in personal injury actions involving only minor injuries to the child. When an insurance company waives the court approval requirement, they risk the child renouncing the settlement when he/she turns 18. Oftentimes the insurance company requires the parent of the child to indemnify the defendant and carrier from any subsequent action by the child.