Wrongful Death and Minor Settlements

Although not required by law, insurance companies most always require a court to approve minor and wrongful death settlements in Virginia. Under Virginia law, anyone under 18 is a minor – called an “infant” by lawyers.

Under the new Virginia UIM settlement law, the liability part of the case is generally settled first – leaving the UIM part of the case to be settled later. Under the “old law”, both the liability and UIM portions of the case were settled at the same time – usually delayed because UIM carriers refused to make reasonable offers until shortly before trial, or requiring a judgement before they would pay their policy limits.

New Virginia Code §38.2-2206 (N) (2016) does not require court approval for a liability policy limits settlement of an minor’s personal injury claim or a wrongful death claim where a UIM claim also is pending. Disbursements may be made for a minor’s settlement without court approval. The same does not apply for wrongful death liability settlements (§8.01-55). Under new section (N), the proceeds from a wrongful death liability settlement must be held in trust by the attorney for the estate or paid into the court if not court approved. Remember: Settlement with the liability carrier does not conclude the case... the case is finally concluded when the UIM claim is concluded.

New subsection (N) of §38.2-2206 makes clear, again, that wrongful death and minor settlements with the liability carrier is without prejudice to the plaintiff’s claim for UIM benefits.

When a Loved One is Killed in a Car Crash

When a loved one is killed in a car crash, you want one-on-one help from your lawyer. For a personal consultation with Gerald Schwartz, never with an associate, call 1-800-423-0055.