When you bring a negligence, medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of an infant or a child in New York, you [the client and attorney] are not permitted to settle the case on your own.

Instead, when you have received an offer that you believe is acceptable and your attorney agrees, you must get final approval from the trial judge to accept the settlement. Otherwise, you cannot finalize your potential settlement.

The court's job is to oversee cases involving infants and children. Their job is to protect the children and make sure their cases are being fairly and properly handled. They're required to oversee all settlements and either give final approval or reject it.

Once you have received a settlement offer that is acceptable to you, your attorney must prepare an entire series of papers designed to teach and educate the judge about exactly what the settlement proposal is, why it's appropriate, and why it is in the best interest of the child. All of those documents must be signed off by the parent or guardian and then, the attorney and client are required to appear in person in the judge's chambers for a brief discussion.

During this in-chambers conference, the judge talks to the client personally and ask questions. The judge wants to know whether the client believes this is an appropriate settlement in addition to getting other information from the parent or guardian.

If the court approves the proposed settlement, then the attorney will take the signed court order and forward it to the insurance company along with all the appropriate closing papers necessary to close out the case.

If the court rejects the proposal, then all sides go back to the drawing board and you begin to negotiate or proceed to trial.
Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer