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Can I make a personal injury claim on behalf of a child?

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Can I make a claim for my injured child?

When a child is injured, parents or guardians have the right and responsibility to seek justice and compensation for the child’s loss and suffering. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions to help guide you through the legal process.

Who can make a personal injury claim on behalf of a child?

A responsible adult must step in as the ‘litigation friend’ to bring a personal injury claim on their behalf. This could either be a parent, legal guardian or another responsible adult.

What are the litigation friend’s responsibilities?

They are there to assist the child throughout the legal proceedings and provide instructions on their behalf, as well as undertaking to pay any necessary legal costs on the child’s behalf, although the claim can often be funded on a “no win no fee” basis. The litigation friend is appointed to represent the child’s best interests and protect the child’s rights throughout the case. The litigation friend must ensure they make the best possible decisions for the child.

What steps should I take immediately after my child is injured?

  • Seek medical attention for the child promptly.
  • Report the accident to the responsible party
  • Document the details of the accident and make sure photographs of the accident location and child’s injuries are taken
  • Obtain contact details from any witnesses that were present when the accident happened.

How is the child’s settlement approved?

Settlements involving a minor (under the age of 18) require the court’s approval to ensure the settlement is in the child’s best interests and that the child has been adequately compensated for their injuries and losses. This is called an Infant Approval Hearing or a Settlement Approval Hearing. The court will evaluate the fairness of the settlement and how the funds will be managed or distributed.

How are settlement funds managed?

Very often the court will require the settlement funds to be placed into the Court Funds Office. This means that the monies are held in a court account (where interest will accrue) until the child reaches the age of 18 when the funds can be released to the child. If appropriate, the court may agree to transferring the funds to a locked ISA or bank account set up by the parents or guardians that the child cannot access until they turn 18 years old.

Can the funds be accessed before the child reaches 18?

It is possible to apply to the court for funds to be released if they are needed for something which will assist the child with their injuries or possibly for another good reason, such as educational reasons. As the case will have concluded at this time, it is usually the responsibility of the litigation friend to contact the court in order to make these requests.

Is there a time limit for filing a personal injury claim on behalf of a child?

The usual fixed period of time in which a personal injury claim can be made is three years from the date of the accident or knowledge. However, for minors this time limit is extended, and the claim will not be subject to any deadline until the child turns 18 years old. Once the child turns 18 years, if nobody has previously made a claim on their behalf, they will have three years to bring a claim for their injuries. This means that a child can bring a claim on their own behalf once they reach adulthood if their parent or guardian hasn’t already done so.

How long does the personal injury claim take?

The duration of the child’s personal injury claim is dependent on various factors including how complex the case is and the extent of the child’s injuries. Usually if the child hasn’t recovered from their injuries a settlement won’t be reached, unless a final prognosis can be given for their injuries. The court may not approve the settlement at the Infant Approval Hearing if the Judge is not satisfied that the child has made a full recovery or a clear prognosis for the future has not been provided by expert evidence.  

Do I need to instruct a personal injury solicitor?

It isn’t mandatory to instruct a solicitor, however, hiring an experienced personal injury solicitor who deals with cases involving children will significantly improve your chances of success and also maximise the compensation you recover. It will also assist you in getting the settlement approved. Here at Stephensons we will be able to provide you with valuable guidance, negotiate settlements and ensure all legal procedures are correctly followed.

If you are considering making a personal injury claim on behalf of a child call us on 0161 696 6235 for free initial guidance on your options. 

By Millie Wilde, graduate paralegal