The limitation period
There is a fixed period of time during which a personal injury claim can be made.
For personal injury claims involving adults, the general rule is that a claim must be commenced within 3 years from the date of the accident. If Court proceedings are not formally commenced before the three-year deadline then the claim is statute-barred under the Limitation Act 1980. There are of course exceptions and an adult is not prevented from making a personal injury claim just because the limitation has expired. However, it is the Court that has discretion to extend the three year limitation period.
In claims involving children, the time limit for claiming personal injury is different from that of adults. The three year limitation period only starts when the child reaches their eighteenth birthday hence, a child can claim personal injury up to the age of 21.
The Litigation Friend
Individuals under the age of 18 cannot legally pursue a claim themselves as they lack the necessary legal capacity. Instead a Litigation Friend is appointment to represent the injured child and act on their behalf. The Litigation Friend has to be someone above the age of 18 and must be someone competent to act. The Litigation Friend can be a parent, a family member, a friend or a guardian.
What happens next?
When liability has been established, the Solicitor will obtain medical evidence to show what injuries the child sustained, the severity of the injuries suffered and when the child should recover fully from these injuries.
The child’s medical evidence will then be disclosed to the Third Party Insurers for them to make a reasonable offer. It should be noted that any offer made by the Third Party Insurers must be in line with the valuation provided by a Barrister.
When the child has fully recovered from their injuries, an Infant Approval Hearing will have take place in the child’s local County Court for a Judge to approve the award offered. The Hearing is nothing to worry about and is a private and informal Hearing usually taking place in a room. It will be necessary for the Litigation Friend, the child and Solicitor to attend this private and informal Hearing.
The Judge will have to be satisfied that the child has recovered fully from their injuries and that the offer made by the Third Party Insurers is a reasonable one. No settlement involving a child is valid without the Court’s approval.
Once the Judge has approved the offer, the child’s compensation will be invested in the Court Funds Office in London and released when the child turns 18 years old.
The Specter Partnership