Guide to child accident claim on behalf of a child– Responsibilities of the parent/guardian or ‘next friend’
In cases where a child is involved in an accident, the legal process making a child accident claim differs slightly from a personal injury claim involving an adult – below is a guide to the responsibilities of the Next Friend in a child accident claim for compensation.
What does the term ‘Next Friend’ mean?
In the eyes of the law a child or minor is the term given to a person who is under 18 years of age. A minor is unable legally to make a child accident claim on their own behalf, therefore in accident claims involving children an adult can step in and make the personal injury claim on their behalf. The adult the that steps in to make the compensation claim is known as the ‘Next Friend’. A ‘`Next Friend’ is usually the child’s parent or guardian or a family member.
How can a ‘next friend’ start the process of making a child accident claim for compensation?
1. Speak with a Child Injury Claim Solicitor
First priority will be to ensure that the child involved in the accident is safe and well – making sure the child receives medical attention will always be the forts port of call.
Once the child involved in the accident has been seen by a doctor and medically treated for any injuries sustained, if you are thinking of making a child accident claim then the first think you should do is speak with a child accident claim solicitor. There are certain procedures you must following in order to make a claim on behalf of a child and also legal time limits in which to do it, if you miss a step you could end up with no grounds for a claim. A solicitor will be able to guide you through the process with ease.
2. Obtain medical records and make application for compensation to the Injuries Board
A Next Friend, with the help of a solicitor, can initiate a child accident claim by obtaining a medical report from the doctor/hospital that treated the child following the personal injury. Once obtained, an Injuries Board Form A must be completed and sent together with the medical report and appropriate fee of €45 to the Injuries Board.
3. Consider the Injuries Board Assessment
The Injuries Board will assess the case and may suggest a compensation amount to be paid. If the Next Friend is satisfied with the assessment and the amount of compensation suggested they can decide whether to accept or not. The mere fact of acceptance of the assessment is insufficient to conclude the case at that point.
4. Court Hearing
The child accident claim must come before the court for ruling before it is settled and it is down to the sitting judge to review the medical report and the injuries and to ultimately decide whether the assessment and compensation amount is appropriate to the injury.
If the judge is satisfied then an Order to Pay will issue from the Injuries Board, this will order the person at fault for the accident to pay the compensation to the court and the monies will be released to the child once they turn 18.
If the Next Friend or judge is not satisfied with the assessment and compensation amount suggested, the Next Friend will then have to instruct a firm of solicitors to draft and issue legal proceedings on behalf of the child to move the case forward. A child accident claim solicitor will guide you through the process from this point onwards.
The Next Friend must satisfy themselves as to the accuracy of the circumstances of the injury as they may be required to execute Verifying Affidavits verifying the contents of a Personal Injuries Summons and any subsequent pleadings on behalf of the injured child.
Verifying affidavits are legal documents whereby the verifying party swears under oath that the content of pleadings are true.