Personal Injury Claims for Children
Children must either wait until their eighteenth birthday to make a personal injury claim, or get an adult to make a claim on their behalf. This adult is usually a parent or legal guardian, and for the purposes of legal action is known as a ‘Next Friend’.
Can children make a personal injury claim?
In Ireland, anyone who is injured through no fault of their own is allowed to make a personal injury claim. This includes making personal injury claims for children. However, people under the age of 18 cannot make a civil claim in their own right. That leaves two options where a minor is injured:
- The child waits until their 18th birthday to bring a claim; or
- A nominated adult brings a claim on the child’s behalf
If the child waits until their eighteenth birthday to make a claim, he or she has until their twentieth birthday to bring legal proceedings. This is because for adults, the time limit for personal injury claims in Ireland is two years.
However, it is generally preferable to start a claim before a child turns 18. This ensures that key evidence is not lost. A parent or legal guardian therefore brings a claim on the child’s behalf. This person is known as a ‘Next Friend’ in the paperwork.
If your child has been injured in an accident, we recommend contacting our solicitors at the earliest available opportunity. You can start the claims process straightaway – you don’t have to wait. It is almost always better to start the claims process sooner, rather than later.
Understanding a child’s injuries
Once a Next Friend has been appointed, a child’s personal injury claim proceeds in much the same way as it would for an adult. Of particular importance is understanding the nature of the child’s injuries. Our solicitors work with leading medical experts across the country. We will ask the right medical expert to write a report on the child’s prognosis and recommend a treatment plan going forward.
In our experience, children are very resilient to physical injuries, although in some cases an accident causes long-term health complications. Damages can also be awarded for psychological trauma. This often makes up a large proportion of a child’s settlement. This trauma can be quite obvious – for instance, if a child is upset getting into a car after a road traffic accident. It can also manifest in other ways such as bed wetting, restlessness, disturbed sleep and loss of appetite.
Accepting a settlement
Most personal injury claims in Ireland are submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) first. The PIAB assess the claim and suggests a suitable settlement. If this is rejected by either side, then direct negotiations can begin. This usually results in the defendant making a settlement offer which the Next Friend is happy to accept on behalf of the child.
If the Next Friend accepts a settlement offer, the next step is to make an application to Court to have the offer approved by a judge. This application is called a Minor Ruling. The judge is like a gatekeeper protecting the child’s interests. The judge wants to make sure the offer is good enough. If the judge approves the offer, then the child’s case is officially settled.
Once a judge has approved the settlement, the insurance company pays the child’s compensation to the Court Service Accountant’s Office. The Courts Service holds the money until the child is 18 years old. This differs to claims involving adults, where the person making a claim receives their compensation straightaway.
What happens when the child turns 18?
When the child turns 18, he or she makes a court application to have their money paid out to them. This is a straightforward application and is nothing to worry about.
Can a child access the money before their 18th birthday?
It is possible to access the settlement before the child turns 18, but an application must be made to the court. The court will only accept the request if it is for something of particular importance. For example, we dealt with a successful application in which the parents needed to cover the cost of their child’s orthodontic treatment. Your solicitor can advise you about this in greater detail.
Speak to our personal injury solicitors
If your child has been harmed in an accident and you’re thinking about making a personal injury claim, contact us at Mullins & Treacy LLP Solicitors. We specialise in personal injury claims. We are client focused and results driven.
Call us on 051 391 488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a no obligation enquiry. We are client focused and results driven.
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