In law persons under 18 years of age are described as minors or infants. A minor may not make a claim or issue proceedings in his or her own name but instead they are represented by a ‘next friend’. This would usually be a parent or guardian. In the case where a child reaches the age of 18 before a claim is settled, the proceedings can be amended to reflect this position and he or she may then continue the claim in his or her own name.
Following an accident should your child attend an Emergency Department or G.P. it should be noted that these medical records may be used in evidence at a later date to support any potential personal injury claim. As a result following an accident, it is extremely important that any relevant information is recorded at this time. To do this you should therefore assist your child in ensuring that the accident circumstances, injuries and symptoms (including symptoms of stress and anxiety) are explained fully to the medical attendant examining your child and are accurately recorded.
As with all adult personal injury claims, it is necessary to first lodge an application on behalf of a minor with the Personal Injuries Board. The exceptions to this are for cases involving medical negligence. The Personal Injuries Board will then look to process the claim, and where liability is not disputed, make an assessment which sets out a suggested compensation figure. This suggested settlement is open for both parties to accept or reject. Even in cases where the Assessment is accepted by both parties the award must first be approved by the Court before any compensation can be paid out. This situation is put in place to safeguard and protect the interests of a minor or infant claimant.
Where a claim has been finalised and the settlement award has been approved by the Court, any compensation received on behalf of the child must be lodged with the Courts Service. This sum is placed on deposit until the minor plaintiff reaches adulthood (18 years of age). During this period, an application can be made to the Accountant’s Office of the Courts Service for payment out of the monies lodged on behalf of the minor plaintiff.
The Statute of Limitations in personal injury cases for adults stands at 2 years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge. In the case of minors the law affords plaintiffs extra time by allowing the ‘date of knowledge’ of the injury to coincide with the minor reaching adulthood. In this situation the 2 years begins from the minors eighteenth birthday.
Once the immediate concern of the health and welfare of your child following an accident has been addressed it is always advisable to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. At Anthony Joyce & Co. we have a specialist team of personal injury solicitors to deal with cases involving minors. We have vast experience in this area and years of accumulated knowledge and expertise to ensure the case is dealt with in as sensitive and expedient manner as possible. Dealing with accidents involving a child can be particularly stressful and we can assist and guide you step by step from the initial meeting through to the end of the legal process. Our team will always ensure the best possible outcome for you and your child.