Article By Marks & Harrison Attorney Explores Settlement Procedures For Virginia Minors

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Richmond lawyer Joanna L. Suyes, writing in the Virginia Trial Lawyers Journal, states that "the practitioner would be wise to consider the implications of failing to seek the court’s approval" when handling those cases.

Joanna L. Suyes

Settlement of a case involving a minor may seem to be routine, but preparation is the key to bringing the matter to a smooth and successful end.

In an article for the Spring 2010 issue of The Journal of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, Joanna L. Suyes, an attorney with Marks & Harrison in Richmond, explains the appropriate procedures for obtaining approval of settlements in cases involving minors.

“While the law does not require the parties to seek approval of the compromise of a case involving a minor,” Suyes writes, “the practitioner would be wise to consider the implications of failing to seek the court’s approval, including that a non-court-approved compromise may not be binding on the infant as well as the possibility that turning the proceeds over to the parents or guardians may expose the lawyer to a malpractice claim for failure to protect the child’s interests.”

Suyes, who earned her juris doctorate, cum laude, from the T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, says an attorney must do her homework to ensure a proper outcome. “Settlement of a case involving a minor may seem to be routine,” she writes, “but preparation is the key to bringing the matter to a smooth and successful end.”

Proper preparation includes ensuring that the parents are ready to be questioned by the judge, the attorney herself is prepared to review all aspects of the case for the judge, and that copies of medical bills, payment receipts and the child’s birth certificate are available in case the judge requests them.

Suyes also discusses how a monetary settlement will be distributed, and the attorney’s ongoing obligations after papers are signed and the funds are disbursed.

The article is written for Virginia lawyers but is applicable elsewhere, Suyes writes. But she cautions that “practitioners should avail themselves of any special requirements their local courts may have.”

The Journal of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association is published quarterly and is sent to members of the VTLA and the judiciary in Virginia.

About Marks & Harrison

Founded in 1911 by David A. Harrison Jr., Marks & Harrison has been representing clients in Virginia for three generations. During this time the firm has handled thousands of cases and successfully tried or negotiated more than a dozen multi-million dollar injury or wrongful death awards.

Marks & Harrison is one of the three largest personal injury law firms in Virginia, focusing on injury, Social Security and workers’ compensation cases. The firm employs 18 attorneys and more than 70 staff members, including a former state trooper and two former officers with local police departments.

Marks & Harrison has offices in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Hopewell, Petersburg, Charlottesville, Tappahannock, Louisa and Staunton. For more information, contact the firm at (800) 283-2202, or online at http://www.marksandharrison.com/.

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