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Use of a Conservator after a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settlement

Question: I was awarded a settlement for a Medical Malpractice case, but…

Below is an example of a scenario where a minor was awarded a settlement for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Since the person was under the age of 18, a conservator was involved.

“As a child I was injured during a dental visit. The injury was severe enough that a Chicago medical malpractice attorney created a case that was taken out on my behalf and there was an award. Now that I am 18, I would like the settlement awarded from the case. According to documentation, it has been paid to my mother. How do I get my money?”

Response: This can be a tricky case because several things will need to be addressed in order to determine who has the money.

First, since you were a minor and received a settlement for a medical malpractice case, the Court would have appointed a conservator for the awarded money. In this instance, the conservator would have been most likely your mother. A conservator, by law, is obligated to safeguard the money or assets for a minor until the minor reaches adulthood. At that time, the money or assets is supposed to revert to the rightful party. In this case, it appears as if the money was not handled correctly.

Since a conservator is a legally binding position, the Court will replace the conservator if it finds that the appointed person is not performing their duties. This may be the case with your settlement and you may need to involve the Court very quickly so that you can begin to reclaim your money.

However, you should make an effort to contact the company that is handling your settlement. You need to verify with them where the checks have been sent to and who they are addressed to. You may need to provide proof that you are now of legal age and that all future checks for your medical malpractice settlement should be addressed and made payable to you directly.

The Duties of A Conservator

The Court, in most cases, will require that the conservator establish an interest bearing account to deposit the money into the account each time a check is issued.

The Court may allow the conservator to use parts of this money to cover certain expenses for the minor during this time period. In most cases, this has to do with covering medical expenses that directly relate to the injury from the case. So, if you need additional surgery for your dental injury or dental implants or replacements, or anything similar to that, the conservator could approach the Court with these debts and ask that these debts be paid from the settlement money.

There several other instances that the Court would allow access to this money from the account. If any money has been removed from the account for these reasons, there must be complete documentation for that removal.

Withdrawing from any account that is being held for a minor under these conditions could result in serious legal issues for the conservator.

Your Legal Rights If This Has Happened to You

If the company issuing the payments has issued checks to another person since you came of age, they may be held liable for their actions. You may also have a cause of action for any monies that you received as a minor and have not received not that you became an adult.

One solution is to gather as much information as possible about the case, the settlement, the company issuing the checks and the conservator and speak to a malpractice attorney. You may need to get the Court involved as soon as possible in this type of case so that they can take control of the conservatorship.



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