Any accident your child has been involved in can be devastating both for them and for you as a parent – and this feeling can be made worse if someone else was directly responsible for your child’s injury. If a third party was negligent and therefore responsible for your child’s injury, then you’ve every right to think about making a claim for compensation on behalf of your child.
Claiming on behalf of someone else, in this case a child, has a slightly different process to how you might make a compensation claim for an accident you’ve been involved in yourself, for example. What both claims do have in common is that it’s intended to recover any money that may have been lost as result of the injury, and to compensate for any pain and suffering. Compensation will be calculated to also account for any impact the injuries might continue to have into the future. This can range from:
If you’re considering making a compensation claim on behalf of your child, you can speak to an adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 or fill in one of the online claim forms on this page to request a call back.
Making a claim for compensation can feel like a huge step, particularly if you are claiming on behalf of your child. In the majority of other compensation claims for personal injury there is a strict time limit which is generally three years from the date that the accident happened, then you won’t be able to make a claim after this time period – however when a child is injured, this rule does not apply.
A person under the age of 18 cannot pursue a compensation claim, so the law says that the three-year limit only comes into effect once they turn 18. At this point they can bring their own claim, if they wish to. But it also states that a parent or guardian can launch a claim on the child’s behalf at any point before they turn 18, acting as what is known as a ‘litigation friend’.
There are various circumstances in which someone might be unable to pursue their own claim, and in the case of a child it invariably means a close relative or guardian fighting for compensation on their behalf. A child is regarded, in the eyes of the law, as ‘lacking capacity’ to represent themselves – this means that a parent, guardian or other responsible adult must act on their behalf as a litigation friend.
Most personal injury claims are handled by expert no win no fee lawyers who have the experience of dealing with these types of cases, and will be able to help you gather the relevant information and evidence to bring a successful claim.
Every school in the UK is different, and have different parties responsible for health and safety of both children, visitors and any teachers at that school. This means it can be difficult to know who it is you’ll be making a claim against if your child has been involved in an accident at school, and who to write a letter of complaint to first if you choose to do this. Under health and safety law, the “employer” is ultimately responsibility for the safety of the environment within a school. Being responsible, they would be the party liable in any compensation claim, and the Health and Safety Executive breaks down the educational system into the following groups:
The Children Act 1989 is a piece of legislation in terms of determining whether a third party has treated your child in a manner which might be regarded as negligent, which has led to the child becoming injured. The third party in question could be:
Under the Act, an individual carer should adopt the principle known as ‘in loco parentis’ which means that they should behave in the manner of a ‘reasonable parent’. Of course, defining ‘reasonable’ behaviour may seem to be a tricky concept, but it is usually fairly clear to a parent when such behaviour has been absent.
If your child is injured in a public place such as a shop, playground or public footpath, then a combination of legislation including the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 cover this situation.
It seeks to solve who should be responsible for a safe environment for any person using these spaces, including your child. In all cases, the measures taken are required to be ‘reasonable’ and if these standards are not met and this has led to your child being injured, you have every right to start a claim.
You can help strengthen your child’s claim by providing evidence such as:
Your solicitor will also arrange for your child to be examined by a medical expert who will produce an official report outlining how they think the injuries were caused and what impact they have had on your child’s life.
Your personal injury solicitor will work hard to negotiate a settlement with the party responsible for your child’s injuries. However, the law states that no compensation settlement involving a child is valid without the approval of the court. If you agree to settle the claim with the party responsible, then you might have to attend an informal infant approval hearing with your child and solicitor. The judge will consider the evidence and decide whether the amount of compensation agreed satisfactorily compensates the child for their injuries.
Any compensation awarded to the child will be paid directly to the court and kept in trust for the child until they reach the age of 18. This is to ensure that compensation awarded is used solely for the claimant’s needs.
In some circumstances, where the compensation amount is smaller, the money can be paid to the child’s parent or guardian on behalf of the child. The parent or guardian can also write to the court asking for some funds to be released if the child needs something specific while still under the age of 18.
The amount of compensation your child receives will depend on the severity of their injuries and the impact this has had on them and the family. It could, however, include damages for pain and suffering, as well as money to cover out of pocket expenses suffered as a result of the injuries, such as medical expenses, travel costs, future treatment and care, and loss of future earnings.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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