A Solicitors Guide to Understanding Child Compensation Claims

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Matthew Clayton Profile Picture
Matthew Clayton

Partner, Serious Injury Solicitor

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Accidents involving children can cause plenty of stress for the child who suffers the injury, but for the parents, it can be equally as stressful. An injury has a huge impact on a child, and it can be long-lasting and create plenty of problems. If your child has suffered an injury through no fault of their own, your main concern as a parent will be to ensure that they get the treatment they deserve – for the best chance at recovery. Making sure you get the best specialist advice from a team of child personal injury solicitors will ensure that you get this, along with the compensation your child deserves. 

Sometimes it’s not always minor, and if your child has suffered a serious injury, we know this can have a devastating impact on your family’s life. Injuries can have many knock-on effects that you can claim compensation for. We try to get the child access to rehabilitation and support early in the claim if they need it.

What are the different types of child injury claims? 

All accidents involving children can be difficult to deal with for everyone, but sometimes they can’t be helped. Children are vulnerable to a variety of different accidents that cause potential injuries, and it’s essential for parents, carers or educators to be aware of all risks and take precautions to stop them from happening. 

Here are some common examples of situations where your child could get injured, and where Simpson Millar can help:

  • Injuries from a playground or play centre, e.g. trampolining parks;
  • Injuries from defective toys or other play equipment;
  • Collapsing walls/objects falling onto children;
  • Dog bites/accidents involving animals: if your child is bitten or attacked by an animal, then the owner is held liable for the injuries they face;
  • Slips/falls on a pavement/in public buildings;
  • At school, nursery, or a breakfast/after school club;
  • As a passenger in a road traffic accident, or as a pedestrian hit by a car;
  • Cycling or E-Scooter accidents;
  • Sports injuries; like horse riding
  • Accidents at home or in public due to dangerous conditions, e.g. shops, restaurants and private and rented accommodation;
  • Illnesses from food allergies on foods which have not been appropriately marked;
  • Medical negligence or a birth injury.

All of the abovecan be traumatising for both the parent and child, so the first thing you should do is to get your child on the road to recovery. Get in touch with our Personal Injury Lawyers so that we can listen and understand the impact an injury has had on yours and your child’s life – we will assess their claim and help to ensure compensation is awarded.

Can you claim for car accidents involving children? 

Sadly, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children, and on average, a child is injured in a crash every 25 seconds. Though in recent years the fatality rate had decreased by 47%, there are still car accidents happening that sadly involve children, and injuries are far more frequent. If your child is injured in a car accident which is caused by another driver’s negligence, the parent or guardian may pursue a claim against the at-fault party, or their insurance company.

Other than car accidents involving children in a car, children are also injured as pedestrians. Between the years of 2017 until 2020 there were 10,000 primary school children struck by oncoming vehicles. This new analysis of children on the road has heightened the risk for young pedestrians, and you should be cautious when teaching your child about keeping safe on the road.

The news is filled with horrific stories about children getting hit by cars while they’re on their way to school, out riding their bikes, or just walking to the shops.

That’s because it sadly happens quite frequently. Research shows that around 37 children are involved in some kind of road traffic accident every single week. We know that seeing your child in pain following an accident like this must be one of the worst situations that you can go through as a parent. Especially if they’ve been hurt badly and are suffering from a serious injury that could affect them for the rest of their lives. Something like brain damage, a spinal injury, or broken bones for example.

And, although receiving compensation for the accident doesn’t make everything ok again, it can give you the help and support you need to get the best medical attention available and give your child the best possible care and support for their road back to recovery.

So, whether your child has been hit by a car recently, or you just want to know what to do if it ever did happen, we’re here to help you understand how to claim compensation on behalf of your child.

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Claiming compensation when your child is involved in a car accident 

You can claim compensation on behalf of your child if they have been injured in a car accident. Even if the driver hasn’t been prosecuted or cannot be traced, it’s still possible to make a claim, so your child can get any care, support and rehabilitation they may need.

Even if the driver of the vehicle hasn’t been prosecuted for the motoring offence, you can still progress with a civil claim. However, the test in a civil claim is different to that in a criminal prosecution, as in a civil claim, we have to prove that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ (that is more than 51%), the driver was negligent; whereas in a criminal prosecution it has to be ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

If your child has been injured in a hit and run road accident, the injured child can seek compensation from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) under the Untraced Drivers’ Agreement.

The MIB is an organisation which compensates victims of uninsured and untraced drivers, and means your child can get the justice they deserve even if the driver cannot be identified.

But, there are certain conditions if you’re making an MIB claim. For example, you should report the road accident to the police as soon as you can, cooperate with any police enquiries or investigations, and give the MIB as much help as they need as they investigate your claim.

Making an MIB claim can be complex when compared with may be a straightforward road accident claim where the circumstances of the accident and who’s responsible are clear.

So, it’s important to get legal advice from a specialist Road Accident Solicitor as soon as you can. We can discuss yours and your child’s options with you in your initial claims assessment, so you can get a full overview of your situation.

Will the Court Accept Evidence from a Child?

There is a common misconception amongst some individuals that the court won't consider testimony from children, but this is not accurate. In certain cases, children may be the sole witnesses to an incident. If a child is older than 14, they typically provide testimony, but even younger children can still provide evidence in court.

What the Highway Code Says about Children 

There are many reasons why a child might have been involved in a road traffic accident, and sometimes it may be presumed that the child was at fault.

However, there are several sections of the Highway Code which could support a claim for compensation. For example, paragraph 205 says the driver should consider if “there is a risk of pedestrians, especially children, stepping unexpectedly into the road. You should drive with the safety of children in mind at a speed suitable for the conditions”.

The Highway Code also states that drivers should drive carefully and slowly if they’re driving past bus and tram stops, as pedestrians may “emerge suddenly into the road”.

Finally, it points out that vulnerable pedestrians, which includes children, may “not be able to judge your speed and could step into the road in front of you”.

If it can be proven that the driver that caused the accident didn’t do any of the above, this could increase your chance of making a successful compensation claim.

We understand that dealing with the consequences of your child suffering an injury can be very stressful and upsetting. But our friendly team of specialist Car Accident Solicitos are here for you.

Call us for a free claims assessment and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have, and let you know how we can help you. Ask us if we can help you on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Can you claim if your child was injured at home?

If your child was injured in an accident at home and you believe it was someone else’s fault, you could claim compensation.

For example, you or your children may be injured by:

  • Faulty products or equipment
  • Poor workmanship by a tradesperson
  • Disrepair that your landlord should have dealt with

Our specialist Personal Injury Solicitors could help you claim compensation against whoever was responsible for the accident, so that  your child can get the care, support and rehabilitation needed.

Is Garden Equipment a Common Risk to Children?

For many, a trampoline is a staple for homes with children.Although they are popular, trampolines can cause fatal damage if not used correctly. In 2018, statistics show that more than 300,000 people were treated for trampoline-related injuries, and more than 90 percent of trampoline injuries happen to children between the ages of 5 and 14.

An orthopaedic surgeon at Hull University Teaching Hospital NHS Trust said that one morning, half of all the fractures they treated were because of children playing on trampolines.

Trampoline jumping poses a particularly high risk of injury to children, possibly causing head and neck injuries as well as arm and leg fractures. So, it’s vital that you make sure they’re well maintained and safe to be used by children, and that if you spot any damage, ensure that it’s repaired or replaced.

New equipment or recently erected equipment should also be checked regularly so you know none of the fixtures have become loose.

When you contact our Personal Injury Solicitors for a free consultation, we’ll ask for details on what steps you took to ensure your child’s safety, as it needs to be proven that the product itself posed a risk.

What Evidence Can Help My Claim?

If your child was injured on a trampoline and you believe it wasn’t their fault, you may be able to claim compensation. Based on the evidence provided, we will assess the risk of the accident, and evaluate the case. When using a trampoline at home, make sure it’s tied down before use and install safety nets, pads and place it at ground level; so that you have the best chance possible at being successful in claiming compensation, and ensuring safety for your child.

Evidence could include:

  • Keep the faulty item. If we take on your case, we may need to arrange for it to be examined by an expert so it can be proven that it was defective
  • Keep any documentation, such as receipts, guarantees and instruction manuals
  • Take photos of the item after the accident
  • If possible, find any photographs or videos of the item in use before the accident 

What should you do if your child has been in an accident 

Write everything down - accidents happen so fast, and you’ll be going through so much immediately after it happens. So, as soon as you can, try and write down:

  • Where it happened
  • What time it happened
  • What happened before
  • What happened after
  • What you think the cause of the accident was
  • Details of any witnesses
  • The vehicle type, car registration and the names of the driver/drivers involved

Take photos - this might be difficult however, it is useful to try and take photographs of your child’s injuries.

This will help to show how much pain and suffering they’re going through when it comes to making the claim.

Keep track of your expenses - keep a record of all the costs you’ve had to pay because of your child’s accident. So, things like the cost of travelling to and from the hospital, paying for childcare, or even loss of earnings if you’ve had to take time off work. Again, this information will be used to calculate how much compensation you could get to help your child.

Claiming Compensation for a Child

While it’s not unusual for a child to fall and hurt themselves in countless situations, many of them could be the result of someone else’s negligence. In these situations, we may be able to demonstrate that the cause of the accident was not simple clumsiness, but the result of another person’s actions or inactions putting your child at risk.

When your child is injured due to no fault of their own, you should be able to claim personal injury compensation on their behalf. The law in England and Wales states that a child is anyone under the age of 18, and since they are classed as a minor, they’re not permitted to take legal action themselves.

Who Can Claim on a Child’s Behalf?

Usually when a child is injured, a parent or close family member can be appointed as a Litigation Friend. They’ll be in charge of making the claim on the child’s behalf and take decisions solely for their benefit.

If both parties agree on a compensation settlement, the Litigation Friend should then seek Court approval. An Infant Approval Hearing will be arranged, where the judge will assess all the relevant evidence to decide whether the agreed terms are appropriate and fair for the child.

What's a Litigation Friend?

A Litigation Friend is someone appointed to help a child or vulnerable adult make a personal injury claim.

If a child has been injured, they will be too young to make a claim, and a vulnerable adult may lack the capacity to make decisions for themselves. In that case, they must be represented by a suitable and competent adult.

These adults are known as Litigation Friends, and are often friends or family members of the injured person.

The claim will be conducted in the same way, but it’s the Litigation Friend who gives instructions to the Personal Injury Solicitor, not the client.

A Litigation Friend must always act in the client’s best interests when making decisions about the case and not their own.

Why is a Litigation Friend Needed?

There are two types of people who need a Litigation Friend to make personal injury claims. 

  • Children under 18 years of age
  • Protected parties, such as adults who can’t manage their own affairs, maybe because they are seriously injured or lack mental capacity to make decisions for themselves

Who Can Be a Litigation Friend?

Anyone can be a Litigation Friend and often, it’s family members who take up this role for their loved ones. For example, parents may act as a Litigation Friend for a child who’s been injured in a road traffic accident, but it can also be a family friend, social worker or guardian.

If there is nobody suitable or willing to act as someone’s Litigation Friend, they might be able to use the Official Solicitor to make a claim instead.

What Does a Litigation Friend Do?

A Litigation Friend can perform many tasks, such as:

  • Making decisions regarding the claim
  • Liaising with the Claimant’s Personal Injury Solicitor
  • Dealing with correspondence
  • Approving and signing documents
  • Attending meetings with Solicitors
  • Making sure the client attends medical legal appointments
  • Explaining the claim process to the client
  • Consider carefully any offers made

As a child’s Litigation Friend, you’ll be able to act on the child’s behalf and in their best interests. That means you can instruct a Personal Injury Solicitor and provide them with any information they need.

This could include evidence relating to the accident, such as photographs of where the accident happened, pictures of your child’s injuries and the names and contact details of any witnesses. This can be very important when it comes to making a claim, as the party you’re claiming against might argue that your child’s injuries aren’t their fault. After all, children fall over and hurt themselves every day of the week, so any evidence that proves they were injured because of another person’s negligence can be invaluable.

As Litigation Friend, you may also be asked to provide medical documents and record the various financial costs you’ve racked up as a result of the accident, such as medical and travel expenses, or specialist equipment such as mobility aids.

This can help us accurately assess the financial impact of what’s happened to the child, and value your claim accordingly.

We should point out that any compensation agreed on a child’s behalf will need to be approved by a Court, but we can advise you on this.

The Litigation Friend must also complete a Certificate of Suitability, a form that explains why they are the right person to be a Litigation Friend.

When Does the Role of Litigation Friends End?

The obligation of a Litigation Friend ends when the child turns 18 years old. If you are a Litigation Friend for a protected party, it would end when the injured person regained mental capacity.

What Happens at the End of the Claim?

The Court will have to approve any compensation settlement on behalf of the child or protected party. This means that once a claim settles, the case goes to Court and a Judge decides at an approval hearing whether the figure agreed between the parties is reasonable.

The Litigation Friend will go to the approval hearing with the client as their representative.

Time Limit for Claiming Compensation on a Child’s Behalf

A Litigation Friend can make a personal injury claim on behalf of a child until they reach the age of 18. Once the child turns 18, they have 3 years in which to take legal action and claim compensation.

That means if a claim wasn’t made whilst they were a child, they must do so before they turn 21, which is standard for all personal injury claims when you are an adult.

Compensation Award

If a compensation settlement is agreed, the payout will typically be held by the Court until the child reaches their 18th birthday.

If your child can’t wait until then, perhaps because they have costly care, support and rehabilitation needs, a hearing can be arranged to decide on how much can be paid out.

Setting up a Personal Injury Trust

The compensation received from a child personal injury claim will be owed directly to your child, and placed into a trust until they are 18.  If your child is above the age of 18 when the case is resolved, then the compensation would be directly sent to them. Until then, any compensation will be placed into a Court Funds Office account until they turn eighteen.

Any compensation can only be withdrawn for the child before they are 18 in certain circumstances, for example if they are in dire need of services or treatment that will benefit them. This could include private physiotherapy, or carer help to alleviate any stress on the child’s recovery.

In this instance, the litigation friend would apply to the courts on the child’s behalf.

What Can I Claim For?

The exact amount of compensation your child could receive will vary, but we’ve secured millions of pounds for our clients over the years for child injuries. We’ll take into account how severe the injury has been, and any long-term impact it might have. Sometimes, child injuries can affect development and growth, so we’ll consider any support or aids they might need now and in the future.

If you’re a parent, you may be able to recover   your loss of earnings from time you’ve had to take off from work, and any travel expenses you incurred because of your child’s accident.

You’ll also want to ensure your child’s education doesn’t suffer, so their return to education will be a major focus of any rehabilitation plan – our expert team of Education Solicitors are on hand to advise on this. Compensation could pay for a home tutor if your child took a considerable amount of time off school. You could also get private medical care, rehabilitation or adaptations to your home if needed.

A compensation settlement for a child who has been injured will have 2 components. First, General Damages will be calculated to reflect the pain and suffering a child has experienced as a result of their injury and the severity of their condition. Special Damages will also be calculated to reflect the financial impact of their injury.

This could include medical fees, travel costs and any care, support and rehabilitation. In personal injury claims involving an adult, Special Damages would also consider the loss of income a person has experienced. If the child’s ability to earn an income (until the date of their retirement) has been affected because of the injuries that they have sustained, these losses can also be included in the personal injury claim. Whilst this isn’t usually the case in a claim involving a child, the fact that their future earning capability may be badly affected will be considered when compensation is being calculated.

Special damages could include:

  • Prescriptions
  • Childcare
  • Travel to and from appointment
  • Special care that has resulted from the accident

How Simpson Millar Can Help 

Roughly 1% of child claims ultimately find their way to court, minimising the need for undue concern. In the event that litigation becomes necessary, we are dedicated to actively seeking out-of-court settlements on your behalf. In cases where court proceedings are unavoidable, rest assured that you can count on our unwavering support throughout the legal process.

And don't forget: If we don't win, you won't need to pay us a penny on a No Win, No Fee agreement. You can focus on what matters – getting your child better while we handle all the heavy lifting throughout the claims process. 

Our Child Injury Claim Specialists have a strong track record of helping victims of serious injury get the compensation they are entitled to

For guidance and support, get in touch with our Child Injury Claim Solicitors on 0808 239 3227. We will listen and understand the impact the injury has had on yours and your child’s life, so let us, help you.

FAQs

Q) The accident happened years ago; can I still claim?

A) You have until your child turns 18 to make a claim on their behalf. Once they turn 18, they can still make a claim themselves up until their 21st birthday.

Q) The accident was my child’s fault, can they get compensation for their injury?

A) Even if you think the accident was your child’s fault, you may still be able to make a claim. Your child could be partly responsible, called contributory negligence, so they would have a deduction in their compensation but it wouldn’t stop them from claiming. So, it’s always worth checking with a free consultation.

Q) The accident was a hit-and-run. Is there any point in trying to make a claim?

A) Unfortunately, hit-and-run collisions happen more often than you’d think. But if your child was hit, and the driver drove off, you can still claim for compensation from the Motor Insurers Bureau under something called the Untraced Drivers Agreement.

References:

Mohn, T. (2021, September 16). Car Crashes Are a Leading Cause of Death for Kids, but Most Parents Don't Check Car Seats. Forbes. [Online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyamohn/2021/09/16/car-crashes-are-a-leading-cause-of-death-for-kids-but-most-parents-dont-check-car-seats/

Intelligent Instructor. (n.d.). School Children Road Risk. [Online] Available at: https://www.intelligentinstructor.co.uk/school-children-road-risk/

Department for Transport. (2015). Reported road casualties Great Britain: 2014 annual report. [Online] Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/442236/child-casualties-2013-data.pdf

Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB). (n.d.). Homepage. [Online] Available at: https://www.mib.org.uk/

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) Untraced Driver Claims. [Online] Available at: https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/personal-injury-solicitors/road-traffic-accidents/motor-insurers-bureau-untraced-driver-claims/

UK Government. (n.d.). The Highway Code. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code

Highway Code UK. (n.d.). Pedestrians. [Online] Available at: https://www.highwaycodeuk.co.uk/pedestrians.html

Livestrong. (n.d.). Statistics on Trampoline Injuries. [Online] Available at: https://www.livestrong.com/article/347980-statistics-on-trampoline-injuries/

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. (n.d.). Homepage. [Online] Available at: https://www.hull.nhs.uk/

Hull Daily Mail. (n.d.). Hull surgeon warns of trampoline injuries. [Online] Available at: https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/health/hull-surgeon-warns-trampoline-injuries-4015336

The National Archives. (1910). Workmen's Compensation Act 1910. [Online] Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/23-24/12

UK Government. (n.d.). Form N235: Certificate of Suitability of Litigation Friend. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-n235-certificate-of-suitability-of-litigation-friend

UK Government. (n.d.). Court Money (Children). [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/court-money-children

Matthew Clayton Profile Picture

Matthew Clayton

Partner, Serious Injury Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Personal Injury

Matthew specialises in Serious Injury claims for compensation including AmputationsBrain Damage and Head Injuries, and Spinal Cord Injuries.

Matthew joined Simpson Millar in November 2016, and heads our department which looks after clients who have suffered life changing injuries.

Matthew is a former Principal Lawyer with Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK. He qualified as a Lawyer in 1990, and has a wealth of experience in helping clients who have suffered a range of injuries.

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