While accidents and injuries are a normal part of childhood, if an accident or injury occurs due to lack of safety measures or because of somebody else’s negligence, your child may be entitled to compensation. Unfortunately many parents hesitate to go ahead and initiate proceedings either because they are not sure whether or not they are allowed to claim or because they do not have the funds to pay the legal fees. This results in their children losing out on the compensation that is due to them.
Here are some of the most important things you need to know about how to go about filing a child injury claim.
The No Win No Fee Agreement Makes It Affordable for Anybody To File A Compensation Claim
How to pay the solicitor’s fees is a major concern for most parents. However, legal fees are the one thing you need not worry about when you want to file a compensation claim for your child’s personal injury.
Most solicitors will take up your child’s personal injury case on a Conditional Fee Agreement or a ‘No Win, No Fee’ Agreement. As per the terms of this agreement, you do not have to pay any upfront legal fees at any point during the litigation. This is how it works:
Solicitors who work on a Conditional Fee Agreement usually offer a free first appointment. During this consultation, the solicitor will evaluate the merits of your case. If they think you have a solid case they will agree to fight the case on a No Win No Fee basis. You will however have to sign an agreement committing to paying a percentage of the settlement amount in the event that you win the case. This amount will have to be paid only after you’ve received the money so you are never out of pocket at any point. If you lose the case, you do not pay any legal fees.
A point to keep in mind – considering the solicitors are taking up your child’s case without any upfront fees, they will be very thorough in doing the assessment and will only agree to take it on if they think you have a strong case. If there are too many weak spots, many personal injury solicitors will advise you against pursuing your claim.
Time Limit For Filing A Child Injury Claim
The time limit for filing a child injury claim is different from that of adults. In the case of adults, the compensation claim must be filed within 3 years from the date of the accident. If the person who is injured is below 18 years of age on the date that the accident occurs, the 3 year limitation only comes into force after the child’s 18th birthday. This means, a child injury claim for an individual under 18 can be filed at any time before their 21st birthday.
Who Can File The Claim
According to UK law, individuals under the age of 18 years cannot file their own personal injury claim as they lack the necessary ‘legal capacity’. Instead, a responsible adult, usually a parent or guardian is appointed to represent the child and file a compensation claim on behalf of the child. This person is known as a ‘litigation friend’.
The litigation friend takes on all responsibilities related to the claim. They make decisions on the child’s behalf and generally protect the child’s interest right through the litigation process.
Amount of Compensation Your Child Might Expect To Receive
When a child meets with an accident or is injured, it can have a huge impact on the lives of all every family member – the child itself as well as the child’s parents, siblings, grandparents and other close kin. In determining the amount of compensation to be awarded, the court will take several factors into consideration including but not limited to:
- The seriousness of the injury or illness
- The impact of the injury or illness on your child’s life
- Whether your child will need additional support or treatment in the future
- How much money you as a parent have lost by way of income because of having to stay home to care for your child
The total amount your child will receive as compensation will be comprised of three parts:
- Actual medical and legal expenses including transportation to the hospital or the court
- Compensation for pain, suffering and reduced quality of life
- Compensation for future losses and expenses for ongoing medical treatment if necessary
What Details You Need To Furnish To Help Your Case
If you decide to proceed with filing a compensation claim, and you should, the personal injury solicitor will require some information from you. This information is necessary for the solicitor to be able to prove that the accident was avoidable and the injuries your child sustained were due to somebody else’s negligence.
Some of the details you will be required to furnish include:
- The date and time that the accident occurred.
- Details of where the accident occurred. Supporting these details with photographs of the site will help your solicitor build a stronger case.
- The contact details of any persons around who may have witnessed the accident.
- In case of a road accident claim your solicitor will need the name and address of the driver responsible for the accident as well as the name of the police station where the accident was reported.
- If your child was injured by an animal, you need to provide details of the type of animal, the name and contact details of the animal’s owner and whether or not the animal was under anybody’s control when the incident occurred.
- If the accident occurred in school or at a playground or park, your solicitor will require the name and address of the person supervising your child at the time of the accident as well as the names and contact details of the local authority responsible for that particular location.
Depending on the circumstances, it may not always be possible to get all the details that are required. This should not deter you from going ahead and filing a compensation claim. Just take whatever details and information you have been able to gather and get in touch with an experienced personal injury solicitor. They have had vast experience in handling all types of cases and will advise you as to the best way to proceed. They will also help you with making further enquiries and getting more information.
Getting some compensation can be a lifeline to help your child and your family obtain the maximum assistance to re-build your lives and enable you to cope with this new situation.
Two things to remember in this regard:
- The first consultation appointment is free of cost so you have nothing to lose by taking this first step.
- Notwithstanding the statute of limitations, it is always advisable to pursue a compensation claim on your child’s behalf as soon as possible. This is because it is always easier to clarify events and gather crucial evidence when the details are fresh in the witnesses’ memory. Also, the sooner you file, the sooner you can get the compensation to pay for the medical treatment and other expenses without having to dip into your savings.