Personal Injury Claims for Children
If a child is involved in an accident they have the right to make a claim for compensation for the injuries they have sustained. However, those under the age of 18 cannot deal with the claim themselves. Instead, an adult known as a ‘next friend’ must be appointed to bring a claim on their behalf.
We have handled numerous claims involving children and can provide you with a free consultation and expert advice.
How do personal injury claims for children work?
Personal injury claims involving children are slightly different to those involving adults. This is because in Northern Ireland, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor. A minor cannot bring legal action on their own.
Therefore, an adult is appointed to deal with the personal injury claim on the child’s behalf. This person is usually a parent (or someone with parental responsibility) and is known as a next friend.
Otherwise, the personal injury claim process is much the same, until the point where a settlement is reached. When both sides agree on a sum of compensation, it must be approved by a judge, before anything is finalised.
This means that your child, their next friend and their legal representatives must attend court. A judge will assess whether the settlement is reasonable. When the settlement is approved it is held in a court-approved bank account.
A child cannot access their money until the age of 18. Even so, it is possible to request that funds are released to cover expenses, such as medical costs. The child’s next friend can make this application on their behalf.
Time limits in personal injury claims for children
Most personal injury claims must be made within three years of the accident or the date of knowledge. But when a child is injured, this time limit does not start until their 18th birthday. So, no matter how old your child is, he/she has until their 21st birthday to bring a claim.
Should I accept an offer made by an insurance company?
Sometimes insurance companies offer an injured adult compensation to cover their injuries, and also those of their children.
DO NOT ACCEPT ANY COMPENSATION OFFER FROM AN INSURANCE COMPANY WITHOUT SPEAKING TO US FIRST!
It could result in your child being under-compensated. Furthermore, your child’s settlement will not be protected for their future.
Insurance companies often make offers to try to settle claims without medical reports and legal advice and this can be against your best interests! Talk to us first.
Remember, your child’s injuries could affect them for a long time to come, potentially requiring ongoing rehabilitation and treatment. It could even impact their adult life, preventing certain career choices. This could be costly, so it is vital that the claim is properly investigated. That way, your child will receive the maximum compensation that he/she is entitled to.
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It is always upsetting when a child is injured in an accident. We promise to handle the claim with the utmost sensitivity, working on your child’s behalf to recover the compensation they need.
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