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Injured Child

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My nine year-old daughter fell of the bars at school and suffered a broken arm. The playground area did not provide adequate padding as required by the American Society for Testing Materials. I know the school should be liable for some pain and suffering for my daughter. Their attorney's have asked for a claim amount and indicate that if the amount claimed exceeds $10,000 no dollar amount shall be included in the claim. However, it shall indicate whether jurisdiction over the claim would rest in Municipal of Superior court. I don't even know what that means. They've already agreed to pay the medical bills beyond what my insurance covers. I'd like to know if I settle for $10,000 do I have to pay them back or reimburse them for what their insurance company (or mine for that matter) paid?





Dear Suzanne;

Unfortunately, kids get hurt every day. Some injuries are worse than others. Although your daughter sustained a broken arm, it could have been much worse, i.e. head injury or broken neck or back.

If the insurance company is offering you $10,000 PLUS medical costs above what your insurance pays, that is a good deal. On the other hand, when there is a settlement with an insurance carrier, YOUR insurance may require YOU to reimburse them out of the settlement you received.

Before getting an attorney, I would suggest you try and negotiate a settlement yourself. Ask for (A) reimbursement to your insurance carrier (B) $10,000 above the total cost of medical care.

Now, by saying this, I am assuming your daughter sustained a simple fracture and her physician does not anticipate any future medical problems. If there is the slightest possibility that your child may need medical attention in the future for her injuries, then you need to go to a personal injury attorney IMMEDIATELY! He will take your case on a contingency basis, meaning he only gets paid (usually 33%) if you get paid.

Best of luck to you and God bless!



Dear Suzanne:
The question asking whether jurisdiction resides in municipal or superior court goes to the dollar amount of your claim. I don't know what state you're in, but in many states, claims under $25K are handled by municipal courts and claims over $25K are handled by superior courts. You ask whether you have to pay "them" back out of your settlement proceeds; who is "them"? If the insurer for the school district is paying the medical bills, there is no reason to pay them back; that would make no sense. If YOUR insurance company is paying the medical bills, check your policy to see if your insurer has reimbursement rights; many states and policies don't allow reimbursement if the bills are paid out of a medpay policy. If all this is getting overwhelming, I strongly recommend you talk to a local personal injury attorney. Given your daughter's age and bodily injury, you should be able to find one who will take this case on a contignency fee (ie, attorney fees come out of the settlement check, not your pocketbook). Have the attorney look over your daughter's medical records and explain your state's laws to you; some states will not allow a minor's guardian ad litem (here, you and dad) to settle a minor's personal injury claim without a court order. Best of luck to you and your daughter.

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