Making a personal injury claim for your child – what you need to know
5 Min Read
If your child has been injured in an accident, making a personal injury claim for them is understandably going to be one of the last things on your mind. What many parents don’t know, however, is that a successful claim can unlock access to specialised care and rehabilitation for your child. Our specialist solicitors can guide you through the process and make it as smooth and as stress-free as possible, to ensure that your injured child achieves the best possible outcome.
Although there are many similarities between the claim process for injured adults and children, there are a few differences. Here are the ten ways you can help to make your child’s claim as easy as possible:
Choose a Litigation Friend
As a child under 18 isn’t allowed to make decisions in legal proceedings they are appointed someone called a “Litigation Friend”. They can be a parent, another family member, a close family friend or a Godparent. The important thing is that the litigation friend must always act in the best interests of your child, has the time and ability to complete any paperwork prepared by your solicitor and is responsible enough to make decisions for your child related to their claim.
Make sure the accident is recorded medically
If your child did not attend hospital after the accident, then we recommend attending your GP to have the injury recorded. Children can often be far more willing to speak to their GP in a familiar setting about their injury and how they are feeling than the medical expert instructed as part of the litigation process.
Record care given
Whilst parents and grandparents are used to caring for children free of charge, your injured child might need additional care as a result of their injury. It is important to keep a clear record of all the care that has been provided, including the date, description of care given and number of hours, as the cost of the care can be claimed on an hourly rate as part of the overall claim.
Keep documents about additional costs
Keep the receipts of anything you buy for your injured child. This can be anything from replacement clothing for something damaged in the accident, to educational books to keep your child occupied whilst off school. Also make sure you also have your child’s birth certificate to hand, as the Judge will need to see that at the end of the litigation process.
Keep a diary
Take plenty of photographs to record your child’s recovery from the injury and keep a diary as to how your child feels physically and emotionally, and how they improve with time.
Instruct a solicitor as soon as you feel ready
If you want to claim for a child, the claim must be started by their 21st birthday. Generally, the sooner you instruct a solicitor the better. Choose a solicitor who specialises in claims for children and who is willing to visit you at home to talk in your familiar surroundings. That can really put you and your child at ease as you both get to know the person who will be dealing with their claim.
Be ready for the medical examination
As part of the claim your child will need to be examined by a medical expert to confirm the type of injuries they have and how bad they are. The examination should not take long, the doctor will be friendly and will have seen lots of children with similar injuries before, and it might be reassuring for your child to know this. Tempting them with a treat after the examination will also help to make it a happy experience!
There will be a short Court hearing involving your child
To ensure that your child receives the right amount of compensation, they and their Litigation Friend will need to go to Court for something called an Approval Hearing. The Judge will consider the medical reports obtained and check that your child has recovered as anticipated. You can prepare your child by explaining that the Hearing will be in private, there will be one Judge in the room and the hearing will only last a few minutes. If your child is old enough, the Judge may ask how he or she has recovered, but you can assure your child that this will be done in a kind and friendly way.
Think about the best way to use the compensation
It is usual for your child’s damages to be invested by the Court until they reach age 18. However, if the sum awarded is relatively small a Judge may permit this to be invested in a Child’s ISA or a Child’s Trust Fund, as long as it cannot be touched until age 18. If your child needs a specific item during their childhood, such as a computer, the Judge may permit an early payment to you of the amount needed.
Keep the Court up to date
As the Court will wish to pay the damages award to your child on reaching age 18, keep the Court up to date with any change in name or address, so that the Court knows how to contact you.
Although no claim is ever truly easy, by following these steps you can help to make the litigation process as simple and stress-free as possible.