Child Accident Claims: Frequently Asked Questions
We have set out some answers to frequently asked questions about making a personal injury compensation claim on behalf of a child. If you have any further questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact us for a free discussion of your child’s claim.
Who can make a personal injury accident claim on behalf of a child?
A child who has had an accident cannot make a claim on his own behalf until he reaches the age of 18 years, but a responsible adult, usually the child’s parent or guardian, can make a claim on the child’s behalf.
The adult who acts on behalf of a child in a child accident claim is known as the child’s ‘litigation friend”. The litigation friend instructs the solicitor to act on behalf of the child and is the person who makes decisions about the claim, with assistance from the solicitor, on behalf of the child.
Is there a special time limit for making a personal injury claim on behalf of a child?
Yes: in most personal injury claims there is a time limit of three years which starts to run from the date the injury is sustained. In child accident cases the three year period starts to run from the child’s 18th birthday which means that children can bring a claim a personal injury up to their 21st birthday.
This ensures that the child has every opportunity to make a claim for compensation for any injury sustained. For instance, if a child is injured in an accident but no responsible adult makes a claim on behalf of the child the child himself can make a claim on his own behalf once he reaches the age of 18.
Who decides how much compensation a child should receive in a child accident claim?
The amount of compensation to be awarded to a child in a child personal injury claim is decided in the same way as in an adult claim – i.e. the compensation is based upon the injury sustained and assessed by reference to medical evidence regarding the injury.
In child accident claims it is usual for a final compensation settlement to be agreed by the child’s
“litigation friend” and personal injury solicitor. However, the final compensation award must also be approved by the court. This ensurs that the final amount of compensation awarded to the child is appropriate and properly compensates the child for the injury sustained.
In child accident claims it is therefore necessary for the court to consider the final offer of compensation at a hearing known as an “infant approval hearing”.
What happens at the infant approval hearing to approve a child compensation claim?
At this hearing the judge will consider all the evidence in the claim and the offer of compensation made. The judge will consider all the evidence in the case and in particular the judge will carefully consider the medical evidence relating to the child’s injury, including any possible future complications. The judge may speak to the “litigation friend” and child to ensure that the child has made a full recovery from the injury or to discuss the extent to which any symptoms are continuing and ensure that ongoing or future symptoms have been taken into account when assessing the value of the claim. If the judge is satisfied that the compensation offer is appropriate the award will be approved by the court and the case will be concluded.
Will my child have to attend court for the child accident claim?
Depending upon the age of the child, it is usual for the child to attend the infant approval hearing along with the litigation friend and solicitor. However, the hearing will usually take place in private in the judge’s chamber (a large office type room) which is much more informal than a hearing in court.
Who receives the child accident compensation at the end of a successful child injury claim?
To protect the compensation money on behalf of the child any compensation is paid directly to the court and invested on behalf of the child until the child reaches 18 years of age. When the child reaches the age of 18 the compensation plus interest is paid by the court directly to the child.
In some cases involving smaller amounts of compensation the money can be paid to the child’s parent or guardian on behalf of the child. However, all the parties must agree to this course of action and this form of settlement is not suitable in every case.
Is it possible to pay some of the compensation to the child before the the age of 18?
In general the compensation must stay invested by the court until the child is 18 years old. This ensures that the whole amount of compensation is available to the child when they reach 18. However, if money is required for the benefit of the child – for example for in connection with the child’s education, it is possible to apply to the court for some of the money to be paid out to the litigation friend for the benefit of the child. Any payments made will be subject to the judge’s discretion and will only be paid out before the child is 18 if the judge feels it necessary.
Any further questions?
Contact us for answers and free advice on freephone 0800 7315434
Personal injury compensation claims for children
Beckett & Co Solicitors handle all types of child accident claims. We can offer free home visits to discuss your child’s claim in Preston, Chorley, Bamber Bridge, Lostock Hall, Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington, Burnley, Bury, Clitheroe, Southport, Wigan, Bolton, Blackpool and throughout Lancashire.
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