As a parent you will be concerned how an injury may affect every aspect of your child’s development – physical and emotional – as well as any possible effect on their education, friendships and overall quality of life.
BLB Solicitors are experts in representing the very particular needs of young people who have been injured. Some of our young clients have suffered life-changing injuries. By combining our skill with our network of leading paediatric and other experts, we put in place everything that is required to ensure they receive the very best treatment and rehabilitation, whilst maximising the compensation package required to protect them for the future.
“Personal injury compensation claims on behalf of children can be emotional and sometimes distressing. No one likes to see a child injured. Protecting them is a basic instinct.” Andrew Atkinson, Head of Personal Injury at BLB Solicitors.
Rehabilitation and Financial Protection
Broadly, there are two overriding considerations for us when representing an injured child.
First and foremost is treatment and rehabilitation. What treatment and/or rehabilitation input is required to give them the very best chance of recovery or to minimise any ongoing limitations? These are issues for medical professionals and at a very early stage we look to appoint a clinical case manager to coordinate the child’s medical, rehabilitation and care requirements.
Second is financial protection. A personal injury compensation claim on behalf of a child is all about the future – protecting them financially for the long term. In fact, to ensure that a child is protected, unlike adults, compensation awards for people under the age of 18 must be approved by the Court.
After taking all of the circumstances of the case into consideration, if a judge is not satisfied that the award is sufficient to protect the child, they won’t approve it. The judge will be particularly concerned to know if and how the child’s injuries will affect them in the future and whether they:
- will require ongoing specialist treatment;
- have long-term care, accommodation and transport needs;
- will otherwise be affected financially in terms of such fundamental issues as their education, career and pension.
“On [my daughter’s] behalf, I really can’t begin to thank you enough. You just don’t know how important it’s been knowing I could pick up the phone at any time and hear your reassuring voice. It’s been difficult, but I hate to think how much more difficult it would have been without your expert guidance.” EP, February 2019
If somebody is under 18, they can only bring a claim through an adult referred to as a ‘Litigation Friend‘. Most often they will be a parent or guardian. It is this adult who, advised by a specialist solicitor and medical, care and other experts, makes all of the major decisions in the claim; everything apart from approving the final compensation award.
As it’s all about the future, it is fundamentally important that a child’s compensation claim is prepared thoroughly by a solicitor who has experience of children’s compensation claims.
BLB Solicitors work with only the very best paediatric doctors and other experts – people with a proven track record of success – to predict your child’s likely needs not just now but, crucially, as an adult. In conjunction with the family, we help to structure a professional team around the young person to ensure their treatment, rehabilitation, care and quality of life needs are fully catered for and funded.
Identifying all likely future costs and expenses is essential to protecting them for their lifetime, giving you at least some peace of mind. This is a painstaking process, but one of which we have considerable experience and expertise.
Personal injury compensation claims usually involve comparing what would most likely have happened to the person in the absence of the accident with what is now likely to happen instead. By virtue of their young age, this is particularly difficult with children who will not have finished their education or embarked on a particular career. Inevitably, therefore, the solicitor will need to cast their net far wider in their evidence gathering. For example, witness statements will routinely be taken from school teachers, sports coaches, the wider family and friends. Pre and any post-accident school reports and exam results will be important, as will any applications for further and higher education and details of any career aspirations.
“Bruce, you’ve been absolutely wonderful, not just a great solicitor but so understanding and pleasant to deal with.” WM, November 2018
How long do you have to make a compensation claim on behalf of a child?
In most cases, if a person has been injured, they have three years from the date of the accident to settle their claim. This is referred to as the limitation period. If the claim is not capable of settlement within that time, maybe due to ongoing treatment and/or an uncertain medical prognosis, issuing court proceedings before the third anniversary of the accident will protect the claim.
However, two of the exceptions to this ‘three year rule’ are:
- if the injured person is under 18, the three year period doesn’t begin to run until their 18th birthday; in other words, they must settle the claim or issue court proceedings before their 21st birthday;
- the three year period does not run, ie it’s paused, during any period of time where the person (whatever their age) is shown to have lost mental capacity.
“I would recommend Mark Tawn to anybody looking for a first rate accident claim solicitor. He rolls up his sleeves and fights for you the whole way.” GB, April 2019
Who receives and looks after a child’s compensation?
What happens to a child’s compensation usually depends upon the scenario. Common ones are:
- If the child has made a full recovery and the claim is only modest in value and the child is likely to be able to manage their own financial affairs when they turn 18, the Court will probably order that their compensation is paid to the government’s Court Funds Office, where it will earn at least some interest until they reach 18. At that time it will be paid out to them, together with the accumulated interest.
- If the young person is likely to be able to manage their own financial affairs at 18 and particularly where the compensation amount is higher, they will usually be advised to create a personal injury trust. This is the best way to provide them with long-term financial security and protect the settlement from unscrupulous people. It will also preserve their entitlement to means-tested state benefits if they would otherwise qualify for them, both immediately and in the future.
- If the child will not be able to manage their own financial affairs at 18, they will need to have a person, referred to as a ‘Deputy’, appointed by the Court of Protection to take decisions of their behalf, including managing their financial affairs. The Deputy may be a family member or a professional person such a solicitor. The Court of Protection monitors the Deputy every year to make sure they are carrying out their role properly.
To discuss informally and in the strictest confidence any aspect of compensation claims on behalf of children, please contact our specialist team on 01225 462871 or by completing the contact form at the bottom of this page.