05 October 2010
Claims For Children: The Duty We Have
I went shopping with a friend recently to help to purchase a child’s car seat.The vast array of various different child seats that are available rather surprised me. Understandably, there were seats for babies all the way up to seats for 5 and 6 year olds. Some even came with drinking cup holders built into the seats ! Child seats are of course an excellent idea. They are nothing short of a necessity. We spend an increasing length of time in the car both for social and for work purposes. But we also travel with our families a lot of the time. Therefore, in the unfortunate occasions when a child is in a car when an road traffic accident occurs, hopefully they will be strapped into their child seat which affords them at least a degree of protection.It is far from usual of course for children to suffer accidents. They are by their very nature inquisitive. They will therefore climb chairs, over walls, and can be ‘as happy as Larry’ playing on a building site if they are allowed access.Children are of course entitled to claim for injuries sustained in the same way that adults are. In a further blog I shall deal with some of the liability issues that are unique to children.This blog comments merely on the fact that children are entitled to bring a claim. Generally, they will do so via a parent who acts as their “Litigation Friend” who should sign a document confirming that they are acting in that capacity, in the child’s best interests.However, because of the vulnerable nature of children, the Court is more interested in what settlement has been achieved compared to how it would otherwise be. The Court sees its role as protecting the child’s interests and will generally want to approve any offers that have been made which ensure that the correct settlement amount has been achieved for the child. What happens in practice is that the barrister acting on behalf of the child will prepare an ‘Advice for the Court’ setting out details of the offers made, providing the Court with full details of the value of the claim.This is sent to the Court to consider the settlement. At this point the Court generally requires the child and the Litigation Friend to attend a meeting.Once the Court has approved any settlement amount, this will either be paid directly to the Litigation Friend or alternatively paid into the Court Funds Office. An Application can then be made by the child or on the child’s behalf when the child reaches maturity at age 18. If the compensation to be invested is substantial, a request can be made to the Court Funds Office for amounts to be paid for the benefit of the child. The Court can also make an Order on how the compensation is to be invested and paid out.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email email@example.com and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.