Accident Claims for Children in Ireland
Accident claims for children in Ireland follow a slightly different process than those for adults. Minors – as children are known in legal terms – cannot hire a solicitor or initiate any kind of legal action by themselves. They must be represented by a parent or guardian – referred to then as a “next friend” – if child accident claims are to proceed before the child reaches the age of eighteen (their “majority”).
The next friend must obtain approval from the District Court to represent the child and show that there is no conflict of interest – i.e., a parent cannot represent their son or daughter if they are the negligent party responsible for causing an injury. The next friend also has to accept any financial liability for bringing legal action should a claim be unsuccessful.
Additionally, any settlement of a child’s compensation claim in Ireland has to be approved by a court before any payment is made. The settlement is paid into court funds, where it is kept on behalf of the child until he or she reaches their majority.
Time Restrictions for Child Injury Compensation Claims
Whereas an adult is allowed two years to make a personal injury (*) claim from the date of knowledge of an injury, in the case of accident claims made on behalf of children the Statute of Limitations does not commence until the child’s eighteenth birthday. On commencement of the Statute of Limitations, a child has two years from that date in which to make a claim as an adult.
It is often beneficial to pursue child injury compensation claims much earlier. Evidence of negligence – if required – can be gathered while it is still recent, as can witness statements while memories of the incident are still fresh. If the child needs medical or educational support, funds can be released from court-held compensation settlements.
Other Noteworthy Elements of Accident Claims for Children
There are a number of additional differences between the process for making accident claims for children and making a claim as an adult. For example, while it is possible to submit an online application to the Injuries Board as an adult, one made on a child’s behalf would be disallowed. The only way to submit an application for the assessment of a child´s injury is by posting it.
The value of compensation settlements may also differ significantly. In the case of minor injuries, a child tends to heal quicker than an adult – meaning that certain injuries may affect a child for a lesser period of time than an adult. However, any on-going or permanent disability may render the child incapacitated for a longer period – i.e. the rest of their lives. Take note that any injury which may prevent a child from working later in life may entitle them to a special damages compensation award which reflects the lost prospect of earning an income.
Child Injuries Compensation and Your Child’s Health
It is imperative that you prioritise your child’s health should they suffer an injury in an accident. In a road accident scenario, even if you do not believe the injuries to be particularly severe, it is recommended that your child sees a doctor. In other situations, make sure you report with your child to the Accident and Emergency department of the nearest hospital. In the long run, monetary compensation is no acceptable alternative to the wellbeing of your child.
As regards making a claim against the party responsible for your child´s injury, your child’s attendance at hospital or with your local GP will be recorded in his or her medical records. These may be later required as evidence to support a claim. It is in the best interest of your child, therefore, if you make sure that all injuries sustained and related problems are recorded precisely and at the first moment possible after the accident occurred.
See a Solicitor about Child Injury Compensation Claims
If you wish to pursue accident claims for children In Ireland, you will need the assistance of a solicitor – at the very least to obtain approval of a compensation settlement in court. It is often highly beneficial to discuss the circumstances of the child´s accident with a solicitor as soon as health-related issues are attended to.
It is also possible that, soon after an accident, you may be approached by the negligent party’s insurance company with an unsolicited offer of settlement. If you have already engaged a solicitor, he or she would be able to advise whether the offer is fair. If you have not engaged a solicitor, you should seek legal advice to get an explanation of the options available to you and your child.
A solicitor will be able to attend to the formalities of making a claim against a negligent party to allow you to take care of your injured child – or indeed yourself, if you have also been injured in the same accident. As many parents are traumatised by their child’s injury, the formalities of accident claims for children in Ireland can be bewildering without a little professional help.
Accident Claims for Children: A Summary
- Accident claims for children are dealt with differently from an adult’s claim.
- A parent or guardian must represent the child when making compensation claims for a child’s injury in Ireland before the age of majority.
- The potential plaintiff has two years from their eighteenth birthday to initiate legal action, according to the Statute of Limitations for child injury compensation claims.
- It is not advisable to wait any longer than necessary before pursuing child injuries compensation claims, and a solicitor’s assistance with the formalities can be a significant benefit.
No two cases are ever exactly alike. If your child has sustained an injury from an accident which he or she was not responsible for and you believe that you may have potential child injuries compensation claim, it would be in your best interest to discuss the points raised above with a solicitor as soon as practically possible.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.