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Children injured in car accidents, either as passengers in one of the vehicles involved, or as pedestrians, have just as much right as any adults involved to claim compensation for any injuries they have suffered. However, the procedure for making a road accident compensation claim is slightly different if the person making the claim is under 18.
As a parent or guardian, you might have some reservations about making a claim on behalf of your son or daughter if they have been injured in an accident, but in reality, the process is quite straightforward and with the help of an expert solicitor you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Parents or guardians of an injured baby or a child under 18 can begin a road accident claim on their behalf immediately after the accident. If a parent or guardian decides not to make a compensation claim immediately after an accident, they have up until the child’s 18th birthday in which to start a claim on the child’s behalf.
Once a child injured in an accident turns 18, in most situations they will assume responsibility for making any compensation claim for the injuries they suffered in the accident. If the child’s parents or guardians have started the claim, then responsibility for the claim now passes to the child. If a claim has not been started by the child’s 18th birthday then he or she will have three years from then in which to make a compensation claim themselves.
There are some situations in which a child will not be able to take over the responsibility for their compensation claim once they turn 18, for example if they have suffered very serious injuries and are not actually capable of dealing with their claim. For more advice on car accident claims for seriously injured children and adults, contact one of our excellent serious injury solicitors.
A parent or guardian who is making a claim for compensation on behalf of a child will be referred to in any documents as the child’s 'litigation friend'. The litigation friend has to be independent, so that a parent cannot be a litigation friend for their injured child if they themselves were to blame for the accident.
To give one example, if a mother driving a car with her son as a passenger were to hit another vehicle in the rear causing an injury to her son, she would not be able to act as his litigation friend when making a claim for compensation on his behalf. However the child’s father, a grand parent or other close relative would be able to act instead. It is worth pointing out that in a situation like this, the insurance company for the mother would pay out any compensation that the son is awarded for his injuries.
A litigation friend’s role is to represent the interests of the child in the case, which might include making decisions on their behalf. However, it is important to point out that it is not the litigation friend who receives any compensation in the event of a successful road accident claim. When a claim is made by someone aged under 18, any compensation they are awarded is placed into a trust by the court and can only be accessed with the approval of the court until that person is 18, at which point they will be able to access the money that was held in trust.
If your child has been injured in a road accident, even an accident in which you were driving, it should be possible for them to make a claim for road accident compensation. For more advice on making a claim if you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been injured in a road accident, call the expert road accident solicitors at Canter Levin & Berg on 0151 239 1180 today.