Children are people too, as Dr Foster reminds us, and they may be even more likely to suffer accidents, but when is it appropriate to make a claim for compensation on behalf of a child?
Accidents happen, and for some children they happen a lot. We shouldn’t however, assume that just because they’re kids, it was their fault. In many cases, they are not to blame and their parents or guardians should make sure they receive fair compensation for injuries suffered.
Children can be injured in exactly the same way as adults: road accidents, either as a passenger, cyclist or pedestrian; they can be injured by a dangerous product; an accident at school, college or nursery; an accident at an amusement park or funfair; a slip, trip or fall in a public place. In each case, if a third party was negligent or otherwise responsible for the accident, it may be possible to make a claim against them.
One important point to note is that the statute of limitations, the date by which you must make a claim, does not start to run until they reach adulthood, i.e. after their 18th birthday. The limitation is three years, so any claim must be made before the child reaches the age of 21.
Personal injury damages are broken down into two parts. The first is the damages for the injuries and the associated consequences, known as “Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity”. To quantify this, a medical expert would be instructed to write a report. Before instructing the expert your solicitor may write to the child’s GP for copies of their medical notes if required. These are carefully reviewed, to make sure that the details of the accident are recorded accurately, and to check whether there are any pre-existing medical issues that the expert should be made aware of. Once the expert’s report is produced the claim can proceed. The second part of damages are known as “Special Losses”. These are the reasonable expenses incurred and to be incurred by a person, including parents or other family members, as a consequence of their injury.
In terms of paying for a solicitor, you may be covered for legal expenses in your household contents insurance and if you aren’t, solicitors can offer a Conditional Fee Agreement. This means that if your child’s case is not successful, you will not pay anything. If successful, any deductions for costs from your child’s damages must be approved by the court.
All settlements for injured children have to be approved by a district judge. This will involve a brief and informal hearing at your local county court, and your solicitor will attend this with you. Usually, compensation is invested by the court, accruing interest, until the child reaches the age of 18, at which point it is paid to them. Sometimes, the court will pay some of the damages early if there is a strong enough reason such as the child’s health or educational needs, or in respect of financial loss paid for or otherwise incurred by the family.
As ever, there is no substitute for good advice. If your child has been injured through no fault of their own, speak to us to see whether or not a claim may be possible. You can contact Maxine directly through her profile page here.