The law recognises that not everybody who is injured is capable of filing a compensation claim. In order to ensure that everybody who is entitled to compensation gets what is due to them, there are special provisions made to allow another person to file a compensation claim on their behalf. This can only be done under certain circumstances and there are special guidelines that apply.
Claiming Compensation On Behalf Of Family Members Under The Age Of 18
According to law in the UK, a child is not allowed to file a claim on their own. This includes all children who are less than 18 years of age.
If a child who is younger than 18 years suffers an injury in an accident that was caused by another person, a parent, guardian or any other family member can make a claim for compensation on their behalf. This compensation claim can be filed at any time until the child’s 18th birthday. After the child turns 18, they can initiate a claim themselves if they wish. This must be done before their 21st birthday.
The person representing the child is called a litigation friend. The litigation friend takes on the entire responsibility of ensuring that the injured child’s rights are protected and that they get the compensation that is due to them. The litigation friend’s responsibilities may range from communication with lawyers to making all decisions associated with the case.
Claiming Compensation On Behalf Of A Protected Party
In certain circumstances, a claim can also be filed by a third party on behalf of an injured adult if the adult in question is considered a ‘protected party’. A protected party is an individual who is mentally impaired and who does not have the mental capacity to make their own decision. In this case too, the person who represents the injured person is known as a litigation friend.
In most cases, parents, siblings or any close relative takes on the role of litigation friend. Where the injured person does not have anyone to represent them, the court may appoint an Official Solicitor who acts as a professional litigation friend.
Responsibility Of The Litigation Friend
A litigation friend is a person who represents an injured child below 18 years of age or an adult who is not mentally capable of making their own decisions. Litigation friends ensure that the individual they are representing gets their due rights.
Their responsibilities may include:
- Making sure that the injured person receives immediate and appropriate medical treatment.
- Gathering whatever evidence they can from the scene of the injury, such as getting photographs of the scene and of the injuries.
- Filing a case with the nearest police station if that is necessary.
- Speaking to witnesses and getting the phone numbers and other contact details of witnesses willing to testify.
- Looking for a personal injury solicitor to represent the injured party.
- Presenting all the facts to the solicitor and instructing the solicitor to conduct court proceedings on their behalf.
- Providing all evidence and medical documentation to the personal injury solicitor .
- Retaining all receipts related to medical treatment and travelling to and from the hospital.
- Keeping a record of all other expenses directly related to the injury, such as equipment to facilitate mobility or structural changes required within the home or to a vehicle.
- Updating the solicitor with relevant information whenever necessary.
The law is very clear that the litigation friend must conduct all proceedings fairly and competently and must have no personal interest in the claim. All decisions that they take must be only for the purpose of seeking justice for the child or the protected person, who will be the sole beneficiaries of the compensated amount.
Statute Of Limitations That Apply Under These Circumstances
The Limitations Act 1980 that governs the time limits for filing claims is very complex, more so for children under the age of 18 and for protected persons. Getting legal advice in this regard is crucial in order to avoid losing out on due compensation on a technicality.
In general, the Act states that all personal injury compensation claims must be filed in court within three years of the date of the injury. However, the Act has made provisions for certain exceptions in the case of children and protected persons.
For children, the time limit for filing a personal injury compensation claim is three years, but this three year period only starts only when the child turns 18 years of age. The statute of limitations is not applicable before the child’s 18th birthday.
The statute of limitations is different for a protected person who does not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions. In this case, the claim must be filed within 3 years from the date that the individual ceases to be mentally disabled. In case the protected person never regains their mental capacity enough to be able to file a claim on their own behalf, no time limits apply. Their litigation friend may initiate court proceedings at any time after the injury.
The No Win No Fee Clause
Most personal injury solicitors make it easier for their clients to file a compensation claim by agreeing to represent them without taking any upfront legal fees. Instead, the solicitor will draw up a No Win No Fee agreement, which states that the solicitor will pursue all legalities associated with the claim without any fees. If you are filing a claim on behalf of a child under 18 or someone who is mentally deficient, you will have to sign this agreement.
Under the terms of the agreement, the solicitor will receive payment for their services only if the claim is successful. You and the solicitor will have to discuss the exact percentage to be paid from compensation successfully claimed when signing the No Win No Fee agreement.