Child Accident: How to claim compensation for children following a UK accident
Discover the legal definition of a child, why a child has until his or her 21st birthday to start a child accident claim, the purpose of a litigation friend, the court’s involvement in concluding your child’s claim and investing any compensation monies.
Who is a child in the eyes of the law?
In the UK a child is considered to be anyone under the age of 18 years of age in England and Wales and anyone under the age of 16 years in Scotland.
The legal name for a child is a “minor“.
Who makes a child accident claim for compensation following an accident?
A child who has had an accident cannot make a claim on his own behalf until he reaches the age of 18 years (in England and Wales) and 16 years (in Scotland), but an adult can make a claim on the child’s behalf.
This adult is known as “litigation friend” and deals with the everyday handling of the case. Normally a “litigation friend” will be the child’s natural parent. If it is not a natural parent – proof will be required to show that individual is legally able to act on the child’s behalf.
A child cannot instruct a solicitor to make an accident claim – no contract signed by child is binding. Once again a “litigation friend” is necessary and will bound by the contract agreed personally, but on the child’s behalf..
Is the time period to start a child accident claim the same as it is for adult compensation claims?
“No,” a child has until his 21st birthday in England and Wales to start a child accident claim (or until his 19th birthday in Scotland – this date may change) and an adult normally has only three years from the date of an accident to start a claim.
The law in the UK has been designed to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society, children, have every opportunity to claim the compensation they are entitled to.
Imagine you have an accident on your 14th birthday in England. You have 7 years to start a claim.
Should no responsible adult be able to make a claim on behalf of a child – UK law allows the child three years to act on his own behalf once he has reached the age of majority / adulthood (majority is his 18th birthday in England and Wales and his 16th birthday in Scotland).
How can a claim for a child be concluded?
Even though a “litigation friend” and a personal injury lawyer are acting in the interests of a child neither has the power to finalize a child accident compensation claim without the involvement of the court in what is known as an “infant approval hearing” or a “minor settlement hearing”.
At this hearing the judge will consider all the evidence in the claim and the offer of compensation made.
The judge will need to see a barrister’s written opinion reviewing all the evidence gathered by the solicitor and confirming that the amount of compensation offered is sufficient.
A “barrister” is a lawyer who specializes in advocacy and legal research and in for an “infant approval hearing” is instructed by a solicitor to give a second opinion in writing.
The judge will look very carefully at the medical evidence and any future complications. The judge will want to see that it is fully known what the future holds – if there is any doubt then he would likely prefer to wait for an updating medical report than to conclude the a child accident claim too early.
Only when the judge is happy will he allow the offer of compensation made to be accepted and the claim to conclude.
The judge will look very carefully at the medical report, speak to the “litigation friend” and child to ensure that any future injury symptoms are known. If in doubt he will normally request to see an updating medical report setting out clearly any likely future problems before allowing the claim to conclude.
Who gets paid child accident compensation at the end of a successful claim?
To protect your child from spending the compensation recklessly the compensation paid by the party at fault is invested in the court funds office until your child reaches 18 years of age.
No one can touch the money until your child is 18 years old, but a small amount can be paid out at the discretion of the judge if he feels it necessary; for example money for furthering the child’s education such as buying of essential books etc.
We recommend that it is best to leave all the money in the court office until your child is 18 – most schools provide for the majority of educational needs.
Who decides how child accident compensation is invested?
How the child accident compensation money is invested is decided by the “litigation friend” and the judge at court – a simple form is completed to give effect to these wishes.
A solicitor is not permitted to give financial advice to a client so cannot recommend how the money should be invested.
Child Accident Summary
On this page you have seen what a child is, why you must be a litigation friend for your child to make a claim, why a judge must authorize the compensation received in a child accident claim and how the money is invested in court until your child is 18 years of age.
Making a claim for a child requires the use of a specialist solicitor. See our child accident personal injury solicitor article to know how to choose the best solicitor to help you make a child accident claim