Children’s claims differ from those of adults in two main ways:
Firstly, they require an adult (this will usually be a parent) to act on their behalf. In the eyes of the law anyone below the age of 18 is a minor and must be represented by an adult who has close contact with the child. The adult must act in the child’s best interests at all times.
Secondly, the child has three years from their 18th birthday to bring a claim, not three years from the date of the accident, which is the case with an adult’s personal injury claim. For example, if a child aged five was involved in an accident in a park, that child would have until their 21st birthday to pursue a personal injury claim.
As solicitors, we must proceed with caution when dealing with a child’s case to ensure that they are fully compensated for their injury. A child’s claim cannot be settled until the child has fully recovered from their injury. If the child has sustained a permanent injury then a final medical report must be obtained confirming this prior to settlement of the claim.
Once settlement has been agreed between the parties, a short hearing must take place at court for a judge to approve the settlement. Again, this is to ensure that the child is being fully compensated for their injury. This hearing is known as an “infant approval hearing” and usually lasts for no longer than 10-15 minutes. The injured child must attend the hearing along with their adult representative.
Following approval by the court, the child’s compensation will be placed in a high interest account and released to the child on their 18th birthday. If the child needs their compensation prior to their 18th birthday, whether in whole or in part, then an application must be made to the court. The court will usually only grant such a request if the money is needed for educational or employment purposes, e.g. to purchase a computer, college/study materials or maybe even driving lessons. This request can be made at the infant approval hearing or any date prior to the child’s 18th birthday.
Find out more about children’s accident claims: