Personal Injury Claims Involving Minors
There are important differences in the rules governing adult personal injury claims and those involving minors.
If you are a parent of a minor who is making a claim, or indeed are under the age of 18 yourself, you should make yourself aware of the key distinctions.
Disclaimer: This guide outlines general topics you should be thinking about if you want to make a personal injury claim. But it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a specialist personal injury claim solicitor for guidance on your specific circumstances.
What If A Personal Injury Claim Involves A Minor?
Personal injury claims involving minors have different rules to those involving adults. The main distinctions are the time limits for starting a claim, support for the minor during the claim and ensuring that the final compensation award is suitable for the minor’s needs.
A personal injury is an awful experience to suffer at any stage of life.
But for minors (children under the age of 18), the stakes are even higher:
- they may have to live with the effects of their injuries for much longer
- they might be vulnerable and unable to speak up for their own interests during the claim
- they face unique physical and emotional challenges as they go through their teenage years and develop into adulthood.
This is why the court treats personal injury claims involving minors differently to those involving adults.
The rules for minors add a layer of complexity to the personal injury claim process. If a child that you are responsible for is involved in an accident, it is vital you get an experienced personal injury solicitor on board as soon as you can.
Delaying action or making mistakes can be costly. Dragging your feet could mean the child doesn’t get the treatment or compensation necessary for them to recover properly.
And no responsible adult wants that to happen.
So what do you need to know about claims involving minors?
Here’s the lowdown of the main differences to bear in mind:
- The minor doesn’t deal with their case themselves. A responsible adult (called a “next friend” will be appointed to run the case for them. A parent or guardian often acts as a next friend, as long as they were not involved in the accident.
- A next friend can be removed if they fail to act in minor’s best interests.
- The next friend must tell the court who will be responsible for costs if the minor’s claim fails.
- Any offers made to settle a claim involving a minor must be approved by a judge before they can be finalised.
- The court must be told how the compensation will be invested on behalf of the minor, until they reach 18 years old.
- If the minor needs some of the compensation to be released before they reach 18, the next friend can apply to the court. Common reasons for this include accessing money for medical treatment or education expenses.
The personal injury system understands that children need additional support when making claims for compensation.
But whether a claim involves a minor or not, defendants will still deny liability and try to pay as little compensation as possible.
The child relies on their next friend and solicitor during their claim.
You must fight hard to secure the full amount of compensation they need to make a full recovery.
The above article is part of our guide on how to make a personal injury claim in Northern Ireland.
If you are thinking about making a personal injury claim, you should get in touch with a Northern Ireland personal injury solicitor who will help you assess the strength of your case.
If you have any questions, you are very welcome to get in touch.
All the best,
The Team @ Lightlaw
Every effort is made to keep this guide up to date. Although it is not to be regarded as legal advice, we strive to make sure the information is helpful, accurate and practical. If you are a Northern Ireland personal injury solicitor and have spotted an inaccuracy, you can submit a suggested change.