When a child is involved in an accident, the injuries they suffer can be severe and possibly life changing. As a parent all you want in this situation is to make them better, but this can be hard if the treatment they need is not readily available or if your family is under financial strain because of extra expenses or lost income because you need to take time off work.

Making a personal injury claim for compensation on behalf of your child can help to alleviate the pressure. You will be able to tap into a network of specialists who can help you to access care and support and ensure that there is an adequate pot of money available to support you and your child through the months and years ahead.

As Cathal Murray, personal injury expert with James McNulty & Co. Solicitors in Omagh explains, ‘Compensation can make a huge difference to families who are struggling to cope and I would encourage anyone whose child has been injured in an accident, for which someone else was to blame, to speak to a solicitor to see if a claim may be possible.’

It is particularly important to seek legal advice where your child has suffered a brain or spinal injury, were their sight or hearing has been damaged or where a limb has been amputated.

Time limits

You can make a claim on your child’s behalf any time up until their eighteenth birthday. After this, your child will usually have to bring a claim themselves and may do so at any point until they turn 21. There are some exceptions were these time limits do not apply, including were your child has been rendered mentally incapable of making decisions for themselves or of managing their own affairs. However, to avoid the risk of a claim missing a key deadline it is important that you seek legal advice as soon as you can.

Compensation awards

To ensure that your child receives all the compensation they deserve, it is important that the solicitor you appoint to deal with their claim has the expertise and experience needed to properly assess their entitlement. The extent of a child’s injuries and the long-term impact will not always be immediately clear and therefore you need input from medical specialists who can advise on the potential future needs which must be considered when calculating compensation.

We handle a lot of serious injury claims on behalf of children and we work with a network of medical and financial experts who are trained to precisely judge the extent of the injuries that have been sustained, the likelihood of them getting better or worse as your child grows, whether your child will require ongoing care and the cost to you and others in having to provide or facilitate this.

Interim payments

It is not uncommon for a family to struggle financially as a result of a child’s serious injuries, for example if one or both parents have to take long periods of time off work or if one has to give up work entirely. Were the person responsible for your child’s injuries admits that they were at fault, it may be possible to ask for what is known as an ‘interim payment’.

This is an advance of the compensation that your child will ultimately receive and which can be paid over to you early to help alleviate financial pressure and to pay for anything that your child needs while you wait for their claim to be formally processed and settled.

Interim payments can also be used to fund private medical treatment and rehabilitation, thereby enabling your child to avoid a long NHS queue.

Settlement of claims

In most cases, it is likely to be in your child’s best interests for their claim to be settled without the need for a full trial at court. However, to ensure that any settlement agreed is fair, it will always be necessary for the terms of any financial agreement to be approved by a judge before being formally signed off. This provides an important safeguard which is designed to ensure that, as much as possible, your child is not short-changed.

Protecting the money received

Any compensation your child is awarded will be looked after by the court until they turn 18. Then the monies will be paid over, along with any interest that has been earned.

If you need access to the money to meet your child’s needs as they get older, then you can ask the court to release agreed sums which you can use as required. This may be something that you need to do, for example, to enable your child to receive private treatment, to purchase specialist mobility aids or state-of-the-art prosthetics, or even so you can move home to have accommodation better suited to meet their needs.

Need our help?

For further information, please contact Cathal Murray on 028 82 242177 or via email at cathal@jamesmcnulty.co.uk

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.