Most people would agree that whilst being a parent is a wonderful, fulfilling role, it also comes with a whole host of anxieties in relation to your child’s health and well being. Seeing your child hurt or injured is upsetting and if this is due to the negligence of another party then a parent or guardian is able to seek compensation on behalf of their child.
In the majority of cases a parent or guardian will act on behalf of the child as their “Litigation Friend”. The Civil Procedure rules state that a person can act as a Litigation Friend if they:
- Can fairly and competently conduct proceedings on behalf of the child or protected party
- Has no interest adverse to that of the child or protected party; and
The Litigation Friend will then provide instructions to their Solicitor on behalf of the child throughout the course of the claim.
A claim will generally follow the same procedure as if the Claimant were an adult:
- The Claim is submitted to the relevant defendant and/or their insurer
- Liability is established
- If prospects remain above 51%, medical evidence is obtained. The Litigation Friend will attend appointments with the Claimant and, dependant on the Claimant’s age, will give instructions in relation to the injury.
- A valuation of the claim is considered and this will be discussed with the Litigation Friend
- Negotiations are commenced and a settlement figure will hopefully be agreed
It is only at this stage that an adult and child’s claims will differ. A claim for an adult will conclude with payment being made directly to the Claimant. In the case of a child, a Court must assess the compensation award and whether they agree that it is a suitable award. Advice on the value of the claim is usually sought from a Barrister before settlement is agreed upon. A settlement figure will be agreed by the parties and a Court hearing will then be arranged for the compensation award to be approved by a Judge. If the compensation awarded is in line with the valuation given by the Barrister then the Court will generally be led by that advice and agree that the settlement figure is reasonable.
The Barrister and the Court have a duty to the child as a protected party to ensure that the settlement figure reached is appropriate for the injury sustained. Once the award has been approved by the Court, in the majority of cases the monies are paid to the Court Funds Office where the money is held until the Claimant reaches the age of 18.