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:
Personal Injury Claims Involving Children
• 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.