Any accident that takes place involving a child can be a highly emotional and distressing experience, not only for the child, but for the parents or guardians of that child too. In the case that the accident your child was involved in was not their fault, they could be entitled to compensation through a claim made on their behalf. However, whether there is case for chronic whiplash compensation, or there are broken bones involved, you may still be unsure as to how the claim can be made. We’re here to help guide you through what you need to know.
What Does the Law Count As A ‘Child’?
When claiming on behalf of your child, it’s important to first of all understand what the law constitutes as a ‘child’. In short, a child is considered to be anyone under the age of 18, and can often be referred to as a ‘minor’ during the case.
Who Can Claim For A Child Following An Accident?
A child, or minor, cannot make a claim on their own behalf for any accident until they reach 18, but where an accident has occurred, an adult can make a claim on their behalf instead. Legally, this is known by the term “litigation friend” and this adult will be the person that deals with the everyday handling of this case. In most cases, this adult will be the child’s parent, but in the case where a “natural parent” isn’t available, another adult can claim on the child’s behalf if they have proof that they are legally able to act on the child’s behalf. It’s important to know that a child can’t pay or order a solicitor to make their claim, or sign any documents – this once again needs to be completed by the litigation friend.
What Time Period Do You Have To Claim?
While adult claims tend to come with a time limit of three years, a child will have until their 21st birthday to make a claim, no matter how long it is between the accident and said birthday. Every opportunity is given to children to claim what they are entitled to, and so three years after the 18th birthday are included to give them the opportunity to do so if there is no adult to claim on their behalf growing up.
How Can A Child’s Claim Be Concluded?
While the litigation friend and solicitor will be acting on behalf of the child, they do not hold the power to finalise the claim without involvement of the court in a minor settlement or infant approval hearing. In these hearings, the judge will see a barrister’s opinion in writing and all evidence that has been gathered during the case, and they will then confirm that the compensation offered is sufficient. There will also be opportunity for the judge to carefully look at any medical reports, and potential future complications to the child’s health and wellbeing as a result of the accident. Once the judge is happy with the potential future outcomes and the related compensation will he or she allow the claim to be accepted.
Who Gets Paid The Compensation?
If the claim is successful, the compensation will be invested into the court funds office until the child is 18. This is to prevent them from recklessly spending the money. It’s important to know that, until the child is 18, no one can touch the money. The litigation friend won’t have access to the money either, though a judge may allow for a small amount to be released to the child if it is deemed necessary. This is usually for the case of schooling, supplies, medical care or other emergencies deemed worthy at the Judge’s discretion.
If your child has been in an accident that wasn’t their fault, we hope this guide has helped you understand the basics surrounding making a claim on their behalf. If you are planning on making a claim, consider contacting a helpline for more advice on the case you could have and the type of solicitor you may need.