A compromise of a minor’s claim in Colorado requires the parties and the attorneys to follow a specific legal process. This procedure is designed to:
- protect the rights of a child under the age of 18; and
- ensure that his or her rights or interests are protected.
What is the Compromise for?
A “compromise” is a settlement of a disputed claim for money damages for a child under the age of 18 as part of a personal injury lawsuit. This can relate to:
- compensatory damages stemming from a Colorado car accident;
- pain and suffering damages;
- medical bills resulting from a personal injury action; or
- lost wages as the result of a Colorado slip and fall accident.
Who Can Compromise?
A minor is not allowed to enter into a settlement him or herself. Instead, these agreements are entered into on behalf of the minor by certain representatives who can act on behalf of the child.
These representatives act on behalf of the child, and in his or her best interests.
Getting Court Approval
Compromises of minor claims must be approved by the court handling the case. In order to get a compromise approved, the agreement must meet particular requirements imposed by law.
Below, our Colorado personal injury attorneys address frequently asked questions about compromises of a minor’s claims in personal injury lawsuits and the injuries you may have suffered:
- 1. What is a compromise of a minor’s claim in Colorado?
- 2. Who is allowed to act on behalf of the child when making settlement decisions?
- 3. What is the procedure for getting a settlement agreement approved for a minor in Colorado?
- 4. Is there a hearing involved to approve the agreement?
- 5. What forms of settlement will the court approve?
1. What is a compromise of a minor’s claim in Colorado?
A compromise of a minor’s claim requires strict adherence to a particular legal procedure. This process is intended to ensure the rights of a child under 18 are protected.
Children under 18 are considered vulnerable to being taken advantage of as compared to adults, so these special protections are in place to protect their interests.1
1.1 In what types of cases are compromises most common?
While these types of settlements can occur in almost any kind of case, they are most common in:
- personal injury cases;
- medical malpractice actions;
- wrongful death cases; and
- estate cases.
2. Who is allowed to act on behalf of the child when making settlement decisions?
A minor is not allowed to enter into a settlement him or herself. Instead, these agreements are entered into on behalf of the minor by:
- Either parent (if the parents live together);
- The custodial parent (if the parents do not live together, and custody has been assigned to one parent);
- the parent with whom the child lives;
- the child’s legal guardian or guardian of the estate.
These individuals represent the interests of the minor child as they are that child’s caretakers. As adults, they can enter into contracts even though the child him or herself cannot.2
3. What is the procedure for getting a settlement agreement approved for a minor in Colorado?
Compromises involving the claims of minors must be approved by a Colorado court. The settlement agreement must:
- be submitted in writing to the court;
- be signed by all people acting on behalf of the minor child;
- be just and reasonable (as determined by the court).
If the court finds that the agreement is a good-faith compromise, the court will approve it.3
3.1 What information should the agreement contain?
To approve the agreement, the court needs a written form that contains the following information:
- the name, age, and residence of the minor;
- the circumstances surrounding the claim;
- the name of the defendant(s);
- the date, time, and situation regarding any accidents;
- the names and residences of the parents or legal guardian of the minor;
- the name and residence information of any other person who has legal custody of the child;
- the total settlement amount, including detailed information about what damages are covered;
- information relating to attorney fee deductions, if any; and
- the minor’s and his or her representative’s understanding that a settlement would bar any future claim.
4. Is there a hearing involved to approve the agreement?
Under Colorado law, an evidentiary hearing will be set to approve the agreement.
Certain steps are required to be taken by the parties (through their attorneys) in order to have the agreement approved.
4.1 What is the notice requirement?
Once a date for the hearing is set by the court, certain proper parties must be given notice of the hearing. Who is an interested party depends on the case, but in a personal injury case this most commonly includes:
- the tortfeasor (who caused the accident);
- the insurance company;
- any parties with subrogation rights;
- any government agency that has or will pay benefits to the minor child;
- legal guardian or custodian; and
- any other person ordered to attend by the court.4
It is incredibly important to serve the right parties, but your Colorado attorney will handle this for you.
4.2 What happens at the hearing?
Ultimately, how the hearing is conducted is up to the individual judge. However, the court will hear evidence about:
- the nature of the case;
- the settlement agreement;
- whether the agreement is in the best interests of the minor child; and
- how the money will be handled in the future.5
5. What forms of settlement will the court approve?
In Colorado, there are many different “forms” the settlement can take. These include:
- restricted accounts,
- trusts, and
The form of the settlement must meet the best interests of the child standard. The court will take a hard look at the proposed form of payment when making the decision about whether to approve the compromise of the minor’s claim.
Call us for help…
For questions about compromises of a minor’s claims cases in Colorado or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado personal injury attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us. For cases in California or Nevada, we invite you to see our articles on compromise of a minor’s claim in California and compromise of a minor’s claim in Nevada.
We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.
- CRS 15-12-1102 (Procedure for securing court approval of compromise).
- CRS 15-12-1102(b).
- CRS 15-12-1102(a).
- CRS § 15-14-404(3).
- Rule 16 of Colorado Rules of Probate Procedure.
- CRS § 15-14-412 (alternatives to conservatorships or restricted custodial accounts).