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Infants Personal Injury Award Paid to Welfare Department


The female complainant was a public charge from the time of her birth and maintained by the County Welfare Department infants’ homes and foster homes. She was married and was removed from the Welfare rolls.

A New York Injury Lawyer said in 1955 the complainant was involved in an automobile accident. By the order of the County Supreme Court, the infant’s settlement was allowed and bills were ordered paid to the County Welfare Department as reimbursement as a fifty percent compromise for sums paid by said Department to the hospital and the balance was ordered paid over to the Commissioner of Social Welfare as general guardian of the infant, jointly with the Guardianship Department of the Surrogate’s Court. The Welfare Department’s allegation that the money was expended on behalf of complainant from the date of her birth to shortly before her marriage appears to be unchallenged. By an order of a Judge, the sum of $4,012.95 then in the infant’s guardianship account was ordered to be paid to the Commissioner of Social Welfare as part reimbursement for the support, care and maintenance furnished by the County Department of Social Welfare. The pending proceeding is for an order setting aside the aforesaid order of the Surrogate’s Court and directing an accounting by the Commissioner of Social Services and payment of the funds to the complainants.

There appears to be no question but that the sums of money involved were in the guardianship account as a result of the infant’s settlement for personal injuries. The complainant’s theory is that funds of an infant from a personal injury settlement may not be applied for care and maintenance. Many cases in the State promulgate the theory.

The infant’s money was awarded to compensate him for his pain, for his suffering and for his incapacity occasioned by the accident, not to purchase necessaries for him during his minority. A Westchester County Personal Injury Lawyer said the law obligates the father to provide those necessaries. If he fails in this duty, those agencies should act that provide necessaries for infants without such funds.

I am not dealing with infants who possess inheritances but with crippled children each of whom happens to have a small sum of money in place of a normal body. When that money is withdrawn to purchase necessities, it is being misapplied. It is thus clear that no withdrawal is justifiable unless it be for an urgent purpose over and above the ordinary necessities of life, helpful to a reduction of the consequences of the injury.

Personal injury recoveries are not, in the Court’s opinion, to be treated as sacred funds untouchable under all circumstances. A Suffolk County Personal Injury Lawyer said in a similar case, an affidavit was furnished by the infant’s mother to the effect that the infant still suffered epileptic seizures as a result of the injuries she suffered from the accident.

Another similar case indicated by the court that it was dealing with crippled children each of whom happens to have a small sum of money in place of a normal body. The case indicates that the use of infant’s monies would be justifiable if it were helpful to a reduction of the consequences of the injury.

Nowhere does it appear in the petition, affidavits or memoranda of counsel what injuries were sustained by the complainant; whether there was permanency or not; or the likelihood of the necessity of further medical treatment; whether monies expended by the Welfare Department covered any medical bills arising from injuries due to the accident.

The purpose of public assistance is for the protection of the public purse and not merely rendered gratuitously. Also with those statutes which were designed to relieve the public of part of its burden of supporting the indigent and the obvious purpose of the legislation is to permit recovery from persons responsible for such public relief as has been given.

If you have been a victim of medical malpractice and was caused to experience pain and sufferings due to other people’s negligence, you may call the office of Stephen Bilkis and Associates to discuss with the New York Injury Attorneys.

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