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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
At Brethertons we are often instructed by parents regarding injury claims suffered by one of their children. If the child is under 18 years of age then the claim needs to be brought by a “litigation friend” - usually the mother or father of the child. These types of claims proceed along the same basis as a claim for an adult but there are several crucial differences. The first is that instead of corresponding with the client - the child - we correspond with the litigation friend who makes all of the decisions on behalf of the child. The litigation friend will attend medical examinations with medical experts in order that the child can be assessed for medical reports and they too will make all of the decisions regarding the settlement of the claim.
The major difference between a child and an adult injury claim is that the Court must approve any final settlement reached and the money is then invested by the Court into the Court Investment Fund. Occasionally the Court will agree to the money being paid into a high yielding bank account proposed by the litigation friend. This can often be an attractive proposition for the Court as the rate in the Court Investment Fund is very low. Prior to arranging any Court hearing to obtain the Court’s approval for the settlement, it is necessary to obtain an independent opinion (either from the barrister or a solicitor from another practice) regarding the value of the claim. This opinion will be used by the Court to consider the reasonableness of the settlement.
The Court hearing is usually a formality. The sitting Judge will want to question the litigation friend and also (depending on age) the child. If the Judge is satisfied that the child has made a reasonable recovery from the injury the settlement will be approved and the money then invested until the child reaches the age of 18. If the child requires a payment from the fund then this will be considered, if it is for the child’s education needs.
If you would like advice regarding an injury claim to a child, please contact us today.