A Guide to Compensation for Child Injury
Compensation for child injury claims are seldom the priority of a parent following the injury of a child in an accident. A parent very often may not consider whether their child is eligible for compensation until after their son or daughter has been treated. It is at this time a parent often asks a solicitor for legal advice.
The process for compensation for child Injury is akin to the process for an adult injury. Nonetheless there are factors in claiming child injury compensation which a parent may be unfamiliar with if their child had not been injured before due to the negligence of somebody else.
While the purpose of this article is to explain the uncommon measures you could come across when seeking compensation for your childs injury, it is not an alternative for acquiring professional legal advice. No two cases are the same, and the consequences of an injury to a child can differ depending on the childs age, previous health and gender.
How do you Qualify for Compensation for Child Injury?
In order to qualify for compensation, your son or daughter must have suffered an injury in a situation where they were owed a “duty of care”. While children can be accident-prone, a childrens injury claim for compensation can be made against somebody responsible for their health and safety, but who instead displayed a degree of negligence.
For instance, if your child was injured at school as they were not being properly supervised, were hurt in a traffic accident due to a careless driver, or suffered an injury in a playground due to faulty playground equipment, there will be somebody responsible for the injury and whom you can make a compensation claim against.
Whether or not your child received professional medical attention and their injuries have been recorded in their medical history will also determine whether your child qualifies for compensation for child injury. If your child was merely treated with first aid at the site of the accident or had their wounds dressed once they got home, there will not be adequate evidence of an injury. If your child has received an injury which you believe qualifies them for childrens injury compensation, it is imperative that they undergo a professional medical examination as soon as possible.
Making a Child Injury Compensation Claim
By law, a child is unable to command a solicitor or make a compensation for child injury claim as they are considered a minor until they reach the age of eighteen. However if your child has been involved in an accident for which they are not wholly responsible and may be entitled to compensation, they can be represented by a parent or guardian acting as a “litigation friend”.
This “litigation friend” cannot have a conflict of interest in your childs case – a father whose reckless driving caused his son’s injuries for instance. They must also be prepared for the possibility that should the claim be unsuccessful, they will be responsible for the financial liabilities of the case.
When the representation has been arranged, a “Letter of Claim” will be sent by the solicitor to those who you believe are responsible for your childs injuries. The “negligent party” – or often their insurance company – has twenty-one days to recognise the Letter of Claim, and ninety days after this to acknowledge whether liability will be admitted and are willing to discuss a settlement.
Evidence for Liability for a Childs Injury
If your solicitor can provide evidence of liability for your childs injury to support the compensation for child injury claim, then the Letter of Claim is far more likely to receive a positive reply. Such evidence can range from the testimonies of witnesses who saw the accident to CCTV footage confirming what had happened.
You will be advised by your solicitor on the actions which can be undertaken to support your childs claim for compensation. This can include official reports made regarding the accident, any visual evidence taken at the scene of the accident and the faulty product which injured your child in cases of product liability.
One aspect which will not be referenced in the “Letter of Claim” is the sum of compensation being sought. This sum is possibly not yet known, as the significance of your childs injuries may yet to be seen. As a result, you should be wary of any uninvited offer of compensation which the negligent party´s insurance company may make.
What if the Negligent Party Denies Liability for a Childs Injury?
In the event that the negligent party denies liability for a childs injury, it will then have to be decided whether you should bring your claim for compensation for child injury to the courts. You will be provided with specifics regarding the costs and process for pursuing court action, as well as the Statutes which could limit the time you have to consider this option.
Claims for child injuries can usually be pursued at any stage while your child is still a minor, but the Statute of Limitations can sometimes be over-ridden by other legislation. It could also occur that your child may have contributed to the accident him or herself, which in turn could reduce the sum of compensation because of your child´s carelessness. This could also make the grounds for pursuing compensation via court action unfounded.
Legal fees insurance is – unknowingly to some – attached to the home contents or car insurance policies of many people. These should be considered, as well as any offer of “No Win, No Fee” which is offered by your solicitor before you decide whether to seek compensation for your childs injury via the court system.
How Else Can I Fund This Claim?
Based on the strength of the compensation claim for child injury, you may be offered a conditional fee agreement by your solicitor. With a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement, you will not be obliged to pay the legal fees of your solicitor should you be unsuccessful in your claim.
If your claim is successful, your solicitor will recover his/her legal fees from the insurers of the negligent party and as a result, your child will keep 100 per cent of the compensation after the resolution of the case. Nonetheless there are a number of factors to consider before agreeing to a “No Win, No Fee” arrangement.
As mentioned above, while you will not be charged for the legal fees of your solicitor should the claim be unsuccessful, you will still need to pay the fees for any defence costs which may have arisen, as well as for any expenses your solicitor has induced while representing your case. It should also be noted that even if “No Win, No Fee” is offered to you, this is not a guarantee that your compensation claim will be successful.
How Much Compensation is my Child Likely to Receive?
There are a number of factors to consider regarding the amount of compensation your child will receive for his or her injury. This includes the nature and extent of the injury, whether they have suffered any physical or emotional scarring and whether the injury your child has sustained will have an effect on their long-term health as they get older.
If your child´s injury prevents them from participating in the hobbies or leisure activities they would have normally taken part in, or they develop a lack of confidence because of the accident they were involved in, these factors too can be included in compensation claims for child injury. How much compensation your child will be entitled to for each of these aspects will be determined against the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines for General Damages in Personal Injury Claims.
Additionally, in your role as parent or guardian, you will be able to claim any legitimate expenses you have incurred which are related to the injuries of your son or daughter. For instance, if you have missed work in order to care for your child, bought medical equipment to aid in their recovery or had to pay for physiotherapy or psychotherapy, these costs can also be included in the amount of compensation you are entitled to.
What Can Affect the Procedures for Child Injury Compensation?
The methods of initiating child injury compensation claims can be affected by a number of factors. These can involve, but are not confined to:-
If your child was involved in causing his or her accident, or by not immediately seeking medical attention you indirectly played a part in the seriousness of your childs injury, the compensation amount for which your claim is resolved can be reduced by a percentage. This percentage will depend on the extent of the contributory negligence.
When the Same Accident Injures Parents
On some occasions it can occur that a parent will be injured in the same accident as his or her child. An injured parent can hold up the settlement of child injury compensation – particularly when the parent is the negligent party against whom the claim is to be made. If this is the case, the child will require a different “litigation friend” to act on his or her behalf.
Unsolicited Offers of Compensation
When the party responsible for your childs injury receives the initial Letter of Claim, you can sometimes be contacted by their insurers with an unsolicited offer of compensation. Such offers should always be advised upon by a solicitor to determine whether it is an adequate offer of compensation for the injury.
Court Approval for the Settlement
When a settlement is finally agreed upon, a court must approve the agreement before the claim is entirely resolved. Once this approval is given, the compensation amount is paid into court funds and will remain there until your son or daughter turns eighteen. These funds can be released upon application to the court for educational and medical needs.
Discuss the Case with a Child Injury Compensation Solicitor
Seeking legal advice and initiating a childrens injury compensation claim are very different things. Once you suspect that your child has been injured owing to the negligence of a person(s) who owed them a duty of care, a child injury compensation solicitor should be contacted at the earliest opportunity. Your solicitor can advise you on whether your child has a legitimate compensation claim and, if so, will guide you through the process of claiming compensation for your childs injuries.