When a settlement is reached in personal injury or medical malpractice case involving claims brought on behalf of a minor or incapacitated plaintiff, courts normally appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to review the terms of the settlement and ensure it is fair and in the best interests of the claimant. The Settlement Guardian ad Litem thoroughly investigates the case, to determine whether the settlement amount is fair and reasonable.
The Settlement Guardian Ad Litem will thoroughly investigate the settlement. Factors considered include:
- The Incident and Cause of Action
- The Injuries Sistained
- Liability Issues
- Identification Insurance and Assets Available to Satisfy Claims
- Identification of Liens and Subrogation
- Identification of Other Claims
- An Anylisis of the Apportionment
- A Review of the Proposed Settlement
- An Examination of Expenses and Fees
- How and Where Will the Net Proceeds be Distributed
- Whether settlement approval has been sought in any other jurisdiction
For such services, the ad litem is entitled to a fee, which usually is taxed against the settling defendant as a cost of court.
An efficient, knowledgeable, and experienced Settlement Guardian ad Litem can save all the parties time and money. The claimant is afforded the expertise of a neutral, who is an Officer of the Court. The Plaintiff’s lawyer will gain the added assurance that they have done their best. And, the Defense will know that the issue will reach an expedited final settlement.
Family and Court Services, Inc., is uniquely qualified to perform the functions of a Settlement Guardian ad Litem. James L. Taylor is the team leader for Guardian Ad Litem appointments. Mr. Taylor has been a resident of Bowie County, Texas, for more than thirty-nine years. He is married and has a nineteen year old daughter with special needs, who was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.
His advocacy experience, as well as his appointments to various committees and boards that constantly address federal funding under the Social Security Act, keep him apprised of the nuances of how federal and state laws affect trust disbursements to beneficiaries and others. He is knowledgeable of SSI, SSDI, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs and how unearned, earned, and in-kind income affects benefits and taxes. He is knowledgeable of the regulations applicable to serving as a guardian or fiduciary for a Veteran.
Mr. Taylor is a professional guardian, credentialed by the Texas Office of Court Administration and he is the Executive Director of Family and Court Services, Inc., a regional guardianship and mediation program serving an area that encompasses the Texas State Bar District 1B and the Texas Health and Human Services District IV.
Protector and Advisor
He is the Trust Protector and Advisor for the Texas Family Trust, a Master Pooled Trust, administered under the Social Security Act by the Center for Estate Management. Participation in The Texas Family Trust is only available to persons with a disability. He has attended the Stetson University, School of Law, Special Needs Trusts – National Conference to stay informed of the changes in the law and rules addressing the administration of special needs trusts.
Board and Council Membership
The Texas Guardianship Association – Member of the Board of Directors.
Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Texas Children’s Policy Council – Senior Member. Mr. Taylor has been appointed and re-appointed by three different Executive Commissioners, for terms from 2004 and ending in 2016. The Council assists state agencies in developing, implementing, and administering family support policies and related long-term care and health programs for children. The Council produces a biennial report with recommendations to the HHSC Executive Commissioner and the Texas Legislature.
Texas Task Force for Children with Special Needs – Criminal Justice Subcommittee. In the aftermath of the state school investigations and subsequent settlement with the Department of Justice, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 1824, which established a special task force charged with the responsibility of developing a strategic five-year plan to provide specific recommendations to improve families’ abilities to navigate the service delivery system, measure and evaluate outcomes, maximize the use of federal funds and improve accountability amongst service-providing state agencies, including state schools and institutions.
Texas Supreme Court – Unauthorized Practice of Law. Mr. Taylor’s advocacy work for persons with disabilities led him to uncover fraudulent activity whereby unlicensed persons were preparing powers of attorney, deeds, wills and court documents that have devastating consequences on these individuals. In May of 2010, Leland de La Garza, the Chairman of the Texas Committee for the Unauthorized Practice of Law, appointed him to the District 1B Unauthorized Practice of Law Subcommittee, which serves ten northeast Texas Counties.
Former Board and Council Memberships
The American Bar Association, Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Elder Law, Disability Planning and Bioethics Group Long Term Care, Medicaid, and Special Needs Trusts Committee.
The American Bar Association, Section on Dispute Resolution, Judicial Advisory Committee.
Texas Education Agency, Region VIII Parental Advisory Committee for Early Childhood Education.
Partner’s in Policymaking, in 1998, Mr. Taylor was chosen by the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities to attend a year-long disabilities advocacy training school.