Personal injury claims for injured children explained

12 March 2021

If a child is injured in an accident or because of someone else’s negligence, they may be entitled to compensation and the parent or guardian can make the claim on the child’s behalf.

How do personal injury claims for children work?

In the UK the rules and procedures for making a personal injury claim are slightly different when they involve children. The parent or guardian can bring the injury claim as soon as the accident has happened or anytime up to the child’s 18th birthday. Once a child reaches the age of 18, if the parent or guardian has not already made an injury claim on their behalf, they have 3 years to start their own claim.

A parent or guardian making a personal injury claim on behalf of a child must be independent and able to represent the best interests of the child. In most cases this isn't a problem, but sometimes it means someone other than the parent or guardian has to make the claim on the child's behalf.

One example is if the parent or guardian is driving, with the child as a passenger, and has an accident which is their fault. In these circumstances, because the parent or guardian may be responsible for the accident they can't act on the child’s behalf. Another parent, close relative or grandparent may be able to act on the child’s behalf instead. The parent or guardian at fault for the accident wouldn't have to pay the compensation themselves, their insurance company would be responsible for this if the claim was successful.

Common types of personal injury claims for children

Children by their very nature are inquisitive and therefore can be exposed to a number of risks. In some cases, this can lead to an accident or injury. Common areas where children are involved in personal injury accidents include schools, holiday resorts, on public roads as a pedestrian or cyclist, or even at home using their toys.

Children over 16 could also be involved in workplace accidents, for example if they have taken an apprenticeship or part-time work.

Compensation in a child personal injury claim

Personal injury claims made on behalf of children are slightly different to those involving adults. Any compensation amount must be approved by a court, even if the other side has admitted liability. This is to ensure that the child’s interests are being protected and that the amount of compensation is fair and covers the injury as well as any losses or treatment costs.

The Judge will look at all the circumstances along with the medical evidence and, if satisfied, approve the amount of compensation agreed. The Judge will then order the compensation to be paid into the Court Funds Office, where it will be held in a Special Investment Account which the child can access when they reach 18.

It's also possible to periodically release some of the money for exceptional circumstances before the child reaches 18, but usually the money stays protected by the court. Sometimes the court might agree to release some money at the time of the court hearing if there are 'good and compelling reasons'. This might include paying for treatment or funding particular educational needs.

The courts are also increasingly allowing compensation payments to be invested in ISAs or other investment opportunities on behalf of children. Specialist advice would be needed before going down this route.

At Co-op Legal Services most personal injury compensation claims can be dealt with on a no win no fee basis.

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