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Accidents involving Children

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An accident involving a child is often more emotionally damaging for the child, and parents, even if the circumstances that caused the accident and the type of injuries are equally comparative with an adult. A child usually finds it more difficult to communicate the effect an injury has had on them. Parents will inevitably worry about the impact the injuries, both physical and psychological, might have on their child's future. This can cause great distress for everyone in the family and anyone connected to that child. The law, correctly recognising the differences between adult and child, provides additional safeguards and practical differences when pursuing a claim for personal injuries on behalf of a child. Read More >>

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Can a child give legal instructions? 

The short answer is no. Usually the client in any civil claim on behalf of a child is the parent of the child. They bring a claim as the “next friend” which is a legal term which allows for a person to bring a claim on behalf of another. This is because children do not have the capacity to provide legal instructions. The parent or guardian bears responsibility for the running of the case and provides the instructions. In some examples where a road traffic accident has occurred, you might see one parent acting as the next friend on behalf of the child who was injured due to the negligent driving of the other parent. Sometimes in a road traffic scenario both the parent and the child would have been injured and you have two claims arising from the same accident. 

How long within which to bring a personal injuries claim for a child? 

The statute of limitations, the period of time within which to bring a claim differs in relation to children. Unlike adults, mostly has must be brought within 2 years of the date of the accident. However children are allowed to bring a claim within 2 years from them reaching the age of 18. Obviously if an accident occurs when a child is 5 it would not be best to wait some 15 years to bring the claim but technically it is permissible under the law. 

What is a ruling of the court? 

Another, and probably most significant difference when compared to a claim with an adult, is that any offer or award of compensation must be ‘ruled’ (approved) by the judge of the court. This is unlike a personal injuries claim for an adult where the court does not approve any settlements. This protection for a child ensures the Court will state whether any award or offer for compensation is appropriate and acts as a safeguard for the child. 

What is a Minor Investment Order? 

Another significant difference is at the conclusion of the case, and compensation is received, the compensation monies are lodged with the High Court until the child reaches the age of 18. These monies are then invested by the State in relation to the child. Once the child reaches the age of 18 an application can be made to have the monies released. 

If you would like to discuss any of the above then please contact us. 


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