Compensation in claims involving children
When a child is involved in an accident it can be a very upsetting time for them as well as for their family and friends. The child’s carer will ensure that the child receives the appropriate medical treatment and reassurance following the accident, but what about compensation? Are children entitled to be compensated for injuries they receive in an accident and, if so, how much compensation are they likely to receive?
Children, just like any other accident victim, are entitled to pursue a claim for injury compensation if their injuries have been sustained in an accident caused by somebody else’s negligence. They (or somebody acting on their behalf) can either pursue the compensation claim soon after the accident (in which case they will need to be represented by a ‘Litigation Friend’ as they cannot pursue a claim in their own right whilst under the age of 18) or they can wait until they reach the age of 18 before deciding to pursue a claim in their own right. In both cases the Claimant, whose injuries were sustained whilst they were still a child, would have until their 21st birthday to make a claim.
The amount of compensation awarded to a child Claimant depends on how severely they have been injured in the accident and how long it takes them to recover from their injuries. When the process of making a claim for compensation has begun one of the first things that will happen is that the child will be examined by a medical professional, appointed by their solicitors. The medical professional will assess the child’s injuries and will prepare a report derailing those injuries and providing a prognosis on how long they think it will take the child to make a full recovery.
When the medical evidence has been finalised the child’s solicitor will compare their case to that of other child Claimants (whose cases have already been settled) who suffered similar injuries and took a similar amount of time to recover. Looking at how much these Claimants were awarded (and, as the Claimants were children, the award would have been approved by a Judge) will give the child’s solicitor an idea of how much the child’s claim is worth. In addition to this, the child’s solicitor will refer to guidelines called the Judicial Studies Board Guidelines which gives guidance on how much compensation should be awarded for various types of injuries.
As well as claiming compensation for pain and suffering (called the ‘general damages’ claim) the claimant may also include a claim for out of pocket expenses incurred by themselves (or, more likely in a child case, their Litigation Friend) such as travelling expenses or treatment costs (this is called a ‘special damages’ claim).
In 2004, Child X, an eleven year old boy was injured when he slipped in a temporary playground at school and sustained laceration to his skin. He was taken to hospital where his cuts were treated and cleaned and he was given a tetanus injection and a course of painkillers.
Child X suffered swelling and bruising and was left with two permanent pale scars. He also suffered from shock as a result of the accident. Child X was awarded £3250 for his pain and suffering.
In 2007, Child P, an eleven year old girl was involved in a road traffic accident in which she sustained injuries to her back. She attended hospital after the accident, where she was given painkillers, and required one day off school as a result of her injuries. She had made a full recovery from her injuries within 10 days. Child P received £900 in compensation for her pain and suffering.
In 2007, Child G was travelling as a rear seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck from behind by another vehicle. Child G suffered a whiplash injury to his neck and subsequent travel anxiety. All injuries were fully resolved within 12 months of the accident. Child G was awarded £2750 in compensation for his pain and suffering.
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