My young child was in the car with me when we were involved in an accident what do I?
If a minor child, i.e. a person under the age of 18, was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a road traffic accident, then an application can be made for any injuries suffered by that child to the Injuries Board.
A child is not subject to the same statute limitations i.e. the two year period that adults are, and they have two years from the date of their 18th birth to bring an action in respect of any injury suffered by them. However, it is always advisable that the action is brought as soon as possible so that all of the evidence is preserved and can be produced.
An adult is appointed to act as “next friend” for the child, normally this would be the child’s mother or father. One has to consider if it was the mother or father driving the vehicle. Then that parent should not be named as the next friend as there is a possibility that the parent’s may in fact be responsible for the accident and therefore, their insurance policy may be relayed upon to compensate the child. If in such cases, a close relative such an aunt, uncle or grandparent can assume the role of next friend.
The child is assessed by their own doctor and a medical report is prepared and lodged with the Injuries Board. All forms and documentation required to lodge the claim are signed by the “next friend” the Injuries Board will then obtain an independent medical and make the assessment based on both medical reports.
The assessment by the Injuries Board in an infant case has to be approved by a court. The court assumes a supervisory role to make sure that children are adequately compensated and protected. Even if the next friend is happy with the Injuries Board assessment, the assessment will not become legally binding until a Judge has had sight of all of the facts and has approved the compensation. It is always open to the court to decide that the compensation is not sufficient and for the matter to be re-assessed.
If the ruling Judge approves the assessment then the amount of the assessment will be paid into court, where it will be heard for the child’s benefit until they reach the age of 18years.
Once they reach their 18th birthday, an application can be made for the payment to be made directly to the child who is then an adult.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award of settlement.
**This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice, professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by McElhinney & Associates for any action taken in reliance on the information contained herein. Any and all information is subject to change.