By Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Compensation Claims for Children in Ireland
Compensation claims for children in Ireland follow a slightly different procedure than those for adults. Minors – the legal term for children under the age of eighteen – are not permitted to engage a solicitor or initiate legal action in their own right and therefore have to be represented by a parent or guardian acting as their “next friend” if a claim for compensation is going to be made before the child reaches the age of majority.
The “next friend” has to seek approval from the District Court before personal injury claims for children can commence and also has to accept any financial liability for bringing children personal injury claims in Ireland should the claim be unsuccessful. In addition to the above, any settlement of a childs injury claim in Ireland has to be approved by a court before payment is made to the court, where it is held on the child´s behalf until he or she reaches the age of eighteen.
Time Limits for Child Injury Compensation Claims
As personal injury claims for children in Ireland cannot commence other than by proxy until a child reaches the age of eighteen, the time limit – or Statute of Limitations – for child injury compensation claims does also not commence until the child becomes an adult – whereupon he or she has two years from their eighteenth birthday in which to claim compensation for the injury they suffered as a child.
It is often advantageous to pursue children personal injury claims much earlier, as it will make the solicitor’s work of gathering evidence in support of the claim more efficient – especially in the collection of witness statements when peoples´ memories of an incident will still be fresh. It may also be the case that compensation funds are required to provide medical and educational support for an injured child – funds which can be released from court on application.
Other Significant Factors in Claims for Childrens Compensation
There are several further differences between the procedures for making compensation claims for children in Ireland and when making claims as adults – for example, online applications for assessment to the Injuries Board Ireland made on behalf of children will be rejected. It is only possible to submit an application for assessment of a childs injury compensation claim to the Injuries Board Ireland through the post.
How much compensation for childrens injuries is awarded may also differ significantly; for although children tend to heal far quicker than adults – and therefore are incapacitated by their injuries for a shorter period of time – any ongoing or permanent affliction will remain with them for the remainder of their lives. It should be remembered that any injury to a child which may restrict their ability to work later in life may qualify for an award of special damages to reflect the lost opportunity to earn an income.
Your Child’s Health and Safety
Although it will be abundantly obvious to any parent, it should always be remembered that if your child has been injured in any form of accident, his or her health and safety is much more important than any potential compensation claim that he or she may have. If the child has been seriously hurt, an ambulance (together with the Gardai if appropriate) should be called immediately.
It is of the utmost importance that you report to the casualty department of the nearest hospital, or at the very least make an emergency appointment with your general practitioner, should your child be injured in an accident. In the case of a road traffic accident, even if you feel that the injuries are not particularly serious, it is still advisable that you take your child to see a doctor. Never underestimate peace of mind. The reality is that monetary compensation is no substitute for your child’s health and wellbeing.
It should be remembered that your child’s attendance at hospital or with your local doctor will be recorded in his or her medical records which may later be used in evidence to support their claim. You should therefore assist your child in ensuring that all injuries and related problems are recorded accurately and as soon as possible after an injury has been sustained.
Speak with a Solicitor about Children Personal Injury Claims
You will need a solicitor if you wish to pursue compensation claims for children in Ireland – at the very least to have a compensation settlement approved in court – and it is often in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your child´s accident as soon as matters relating to their health are taken care of.
Furthermore, if you are approached directly by the negligent party´s insurers with an offer of child injury compensation soon after an accident to your child has occurred, a solicitor will be able to advise you whether the offer reflects a fair and adequate settlement of compensation or whether you should pursue child injury compensation claims through the Injuries Board Ireland, by negotiation with the insurance company or via court action.
Many parents are so traumatised by an injury to a child they often – and understandably – neglect to consider the evidence they will need in support of their childs injury compensation claim, indeed possibly because they have also been injured in the same accident. By speaking with a solicitor about claims for childrens compensation at the first practical opportunity, the solicitor can deal with collecting evidence in support of a claim and allow you to focus on providing care for your injured child.
- Childrens personal injury claims are handled differently from those when an adult has been hurt in an accident which was not their fault.
- Children are represented by their parents or guardians when making children personal injury claims in Ireland prior to the age of majority.
- The Statute of Limitations applies differently to compensation claims for children in Ireland, with the claimant having two years from their eighteenth birthday in which to make a claim.
- However, it is not recommended that childrens claims for personal injury compensation are left that long: a solicitor should be consulted as soon as any immediate threat to the child’s health is resolved.
- The sooner a solicitor is engaged, the more likelihood there is of collecting the evidence you will need to support compensation claims for children in Ireland.
It is important to note that each case is unique. If your child has been involved in an accident resulting from the negligence of another and you feel that he or she may have a potential child injury claim you are advised to discuss all of the points raised in the preceding article with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
Copyright © 2009-2015 Eoin Campbell
About the Author
Eoin P. Campbell is an honours law graduate (LL.B) and qualified solicitor whose primary professional experience is the area of litigation and in particular personal injury claims. Eoin P. Campbell is currently lecturing in law at two universities in Lyon, France.