Personal Injury Claims for Minors – is it child’s play?

If you have children, the thought of them being injured in an accident does not bear thinking about. In fact most parents probably prefer to live in denial, refusing to entertain the idea that their little one may suffer an injury as a result of another’s negligence. Sadly, however, we can’t ‘wrap kids up in cotton wool’. And they have just as much chance of suffering injury as adults do. So, what if it does happen and it’s not their fault?

Many adults may not be aware that they’re entitled to make a personal injury claim on behalf of a minor – and in many respects the procedure is much the same as with an adult. There are however a few significant points to be aware of if this situation does apply to you. So here’s a quick guide to pursuing  personal injury claim for a child.

The ‘litigation friend’

As you might expect – and in line with other statute in Scotland – personal injury law considers anyone up to the age of 18 years old to be a ‘minor’ (from infancy upwards). As such, they cannot make a personal injury claim themselves; if a baby, child or minor under 18 does suffer an injury they have to have a parent or guardian, claim on their behalf. After the age of 18, the injured child has another three years to make any personal injury claim relating to a no-fault injury or illness suffered when a minor – if the parent or guardian has not already done so. So what does claiming on a minor’s behalf entail?

Well, a parent or guardian that’s acting on behalf of their injured baby or child is referred to as a ‘litigation friend’. The ‘friend’ has to be independent – in other words, not the person to blame for the injury. For example, if a mother and son were involved in a car accident, deemed to be the fault of the mother, she could not  claim for the son. However, another family member or close relative not involved in the accident could act on the son’s behalf. Note: the insurance company pays if the claim is upheld, not the mother.

Types of personal injury that can be claimed for

The kinds of injury suffered by minors which can be claimed for through a personal injury solicitor are very much the same as those which adults can claim for, such as:

road accidents as a passenger, road accidents as a pedestrian, road accidents as a cyclist, injuries through slips, trips and falls, accidents at theme parks, accidents at school, nursery or college and general accidents in a public place like a shop or café.

Clinical negligence is another area that can lead to claims on behalf of a minor. Sadly, procedures can go wrong, resulting in impairment or trauma that can last throughout childhood or into adult years. Such situations need to examined on a case-by-case basis.

As with all personal injury claims, the validity of the claim itself is depending on circumstances and where fault lies – it makes no difference that the claimant is a minor.

What if the claim is successful?

If the claim for an injury suffered to a minor is successful it is possible – and indeed advisable – to have any compensation transferred into a special account to be held in trust until the child turns 18. Of course, if there is a genuine need for funds to be spent before then, directly related to the injury suffered (e.g for medical reasons) that can be arranged.

If you believe your baby or child has suffered an injury that wasn’t their fault, the first step is to contact a reliable personal injury lawyer who can get the ball rolling.