fbpx
FREE CONSULTATIONS 905-333-8888
CALL NOW 905-333-8888

WE KNOW YOU WANT ANSWERS

ARTICLES BY OUR HAMILTON PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS

Kids’ Cases and Judge Approval

By Matt Lalande in Hurt Kids on December 08, 2023

Kids’ Cases and Judge Approval

Did you know that when you hire a lawyer to help prosecute your child’s injury case – that lawyer is not allowed to settle your child’s case without the approval of a Superior Court Judge? There is no two ways about it. A kid case cannot be settled without a Judge’s signature. His or her honor will need to be satisfied by your lawyer that your child was adequately compensated for his or her losses, and that the legal fees that your lawyer is charging is fair and reasonable.

The following are 3 quick points on how and why we need to ask a Judge for his or her approval on all cases involving hurt kids.

Kids, due to their age, are considered legally incapable of making binding decisions, especially in complex matters like legal settlements. A child’s parent will normally be names as litigation guardian at the start of a case. In Ontario, a litigation guardian, such as a parent representing their child in a personal injury case, serves as the legal representative for the child who is not legally capable of managing their own case due to their age.

The parent’s roles as the litigation guardian’s role involves making all key decisions related to the lawsuit on behalf of the child, ensuring that these decisions are in the best interests of the child. This includes starting a legal case for compensation, instructing the lawyer, making decisions about settlement offers. The litigation guardian acts as the child’s voice in the legal process, safeguarding their rights and interests throughout the duration of the case.

The issue here is that a litigation guardian only makes decisions based on what the lawyer tells them. What if they have a bad lawyer? An inexperienced lawyer? A lawyer that lacks in communication skills and might not have the right experience for the case? A lawyer who does not specialize in helping hurt kids in car accident, pedestrian accident or bicycle accident cases? What if the child suffered extremely serious life-long injuries that will require ongoing care and support? What if a life-care plan is needed?

If the lawyer does not work the case properly nor offer the litigation guardian the right legal options, that guardian may not fully understand the long-term consequences of their decisions or may be unable to adequately assess the complexities of a legal settlement.

The requirement of a Judge to sign off on all kid’s cases is an important part of the process. They are the last gatekeeper. His or her role includes a thorough evaluation of whether the proposed settlement serves the absolute best interests of the minor. This involves considering various factors such as the severity of the injury or harm suffered, the long-term needs of the minor (such as ongoing medical care or therapy), and the adequacy of the proposed compensation in covering these needs. They will make sure that – at the end of the day – the settlement is satisfactory for your loved one.

2. To Assess the Fairness of your Child’s Compensation

Again, the requirement for a Judge’s approval of settlements involving kids in Ontario serves as a critical checkpoint against the potential inadequacies or inconsistencies in legal representation. It ensures that the settlement is not only fair and adequate but also reached through a process that upholds the highest standards of legal practice and protects the minor’s best interests.

A judge will meticulously review the settlement terms to ensure they are fair and just for the child, especially in the long term. This includes evaluating whether the compensation adequately covers current and future medical expenses, ongoing care needs, and any other damages or losses incurred. The judge’s assessment is grounded in an understanding of what constitutes a fair settlement in similar cases, based on legal precedents and standards.

Again, not all lawyers have the same level of experience or expertise, particularly in complex areas like personal injury law involving minors. Some may be inexperienced or lack the specialized knowledge required to negotiate the best possible settlement for a child. Others might not be fully aware of the long-term implications of a particular settlement agreement, especially when it comes to future care needs and expenses. A judge’s oversight mitigates the risks associated with this variability in legal representation.

3. To Ensure the Lawyer’s Fees are Fair and Reasonable

In Ontario, when a judge reviews an infant settlement case for court approval, one of the crucial aspects they examine is the fairness and reasonableness of the contingency fee arrangement – or in other words – that the fee your lawyer is charging you makes sense in the circumstances and your child is not being short-changed.

You will more likely than not be paying your lawyer fees by way of contingency. This is a payment structure where you don’t have to pay any money upfront, and your lawyer will receive a percentage of the settlement or award as their fee, rather than charging an hourly rate or a fixed fee. This arrangement means that the lawyer’s payment is contingent upon winning the case or securing a settlement. If the case is unsuccessful, the lawyer typically does not receive a fee. This type of fee allows people of all financial backgrounds to pursue valid legal claims with the lawyer of their choosing.

Given that the settlement is meant to compensate a kid for their injuries, damages, or losses, Judge want to make sure that too much of the settlement is not unduly diverted towards legal fees. Judges assess the contingency fee to safeguard the minor’s financial interests, ensuring that the fee is proportionate to the service provided and does not excessively diminish the compensation meant for the minor’s welfare. The process, by caselaw.

Judges will review such things as the complexity of the case and issues, the complexity of liability and contributory negligence, the length of time the case has been going on, the funding of disbursements and whether those disbursements are fair and reasonable and the results that your lawyer obtained, among other things.

Has your Child Suffered Serious Injuries? Our Child Injury Lawyers can Help.

When a child is seriously injured, the grief experienced by parents will often encompasses a deep sense of heartache and helplessness, as they grapple with the sudden shift in their child’s health and well-being. Our child injury lawyers understand that parents suffer intense worry and anxiety about the child’s future, the potential long-term impacts of the injury, and the challenges of navigating medical care and recovery. Parents may also experience feelings of guilt or self-blame, questioning whether they could have done something to prevent the injury.

Matt Lalande is a child injury lawyer who has been representing seriously hurt kids and their families in cases across Ontario, and Nationwide, since 2003. While it’s true that no amount of money can ever truly compensate a child for his or her suffering, compensation can help address the various financial and rehabilitative needs your child might require as he or shes ages.

To schedule your free consultation with our lawyers for hurt kids, call us toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-888-LALANDE or local throughout Southern Ontario area at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can chat with our live operator 24/7 or send an email through our website and we will be happy to get right back to you. 

Free Case Review

We Can Help. Contact us 24/7

start your case905-333-8888

VOTED BEST LAWYERS IN CANADA 2018, 2019 & 2020

TALK TO US
ABOUT YOUR
ACCIDENT OR DISABILITY

905-333-8888

or fill out the form below

    • img
    • img
    • img
    • img

    Clients Testimonials

    more testimonials

    Experience Matters

    $2.7M

    Motorcycle Accident

    view all case results

    TALK TO US
    ABOUT YOUR
    ACCIDENT OR DISABILITY

    905-333-8888

    or fill out the form below