How Long Does My Child Have To Pursue A Personal Injury Claim Following An Accident?
Children - i.e. those under the age of 18 - are not able to bring a claim in their own right. If a child is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence and they, or their parent or guardian, wish to make a claim there are two options available. The child’s claim can be made before they reach the age of 18, in which case they must conduct the proceedings through a representative (usually their parent or guardian) known as a ‘litigation friend’. As the general rule in personal injury cases is that a claim being made by an adult must be made within 3 years of the date of the accident, where the Claimant is a child the three year time limit starts from the date of their 18th birthday (i.e. the date they reach maturity) which means they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim. Therefore the second option is for the Claimant to wait until he or she reaches maturity before pursuing a claim.
Child T was injured in a car accident at the age of 8 and suffered severe cuts and bruises to his face resulting in significant scarring.
Child T’s mother decides to pursue a claim on her son’s behalf. She contacts a solicitor within a week of the accident and the solicitor takes on the claim. Over time, the child visits medical professionals who treat and advise on the child’s injuries and prepare a conclusive medical report. Negotiations take place between the child’s solicitor and the solicitor for the other side and an amount of full and final compensation is agreed on. The matter is put before a Judge to ensure the settlement is fair and, the Judge agrees that it is, and the matter is concluded.
Child T’s parents decide that it should be up to him, when he becomes an adult, to decide whether to make a claim for compensation for his injuries. Child T receives the appropriate medical treatment and surgery following the accident but no legal action is taken. Upon reaching the age of 18, Child T (now legally an adult) decides that he would like to pursue compensation for the injuries he suffered as a child. He contacts a solicitor who advises him that he is still within his rights to pursue a claim and has until his 21st birthday to have either agreed settlement of the claim or to have issued court proceedings.
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