If an injured person is under the age of 18, they are unable to represent themselves in respect of any compensation claim and as a result, they will need to engage a ‘Litigation Friend’. A Litigation Friend is usually the child’s parent but can be another family member or close friend. A Litigation Friend must be over 18 years of age. Their role is to act in the best interests of the injured child and to make important decisions in the claim on behalf of the injured child.
Normally, personal injury claims must be made within 3 years of the accident occurring. However, where the injury is suffered by a child, this period is extended to 3 years after the child has turned 18. This means that if a child was 10 years old when they were injured in an accident, they have until their 21st birthday to make a claim for compensation
If an offer of settlement is made in an injured child’s case, his or her Litigation Friend will have to decide, with the advice of a specialist solicitor, whether to accept the offer or not. Unlike cases involving adults, in a child’s case if a settlement offer is accepted, this then has to be approved by a Judge. A child and their Litigation Friend will both be required to attend Court with their solicitor for this approval and answer any straightforward questions the Judge may ask about the case and the child’s injury.
If the Judge is satisfied that the settlement reflects a good outcome for the injured child, they will approve the settlement figure. If the Judge is not satisfied that the damages agreed are sufficient, they will not approve the settlement figure and instead will direct that the matter is negotiated further between the parties’ legal representatives.