By Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Your Child’s Health and Safety
Although it is 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 and is much more important than any potential accident compensation claim. If the child has been seriously hurt in an accident, an ambulance (together with the Gardai if appropriate) should be called immediately.
It is essential 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 highly advisable that you take your child to see a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you do not plan to make a compensation claim for the accident, you will still have the peace of mind – both that you child has received appropriate care but also that you have the medical evidence necessary to make a claim in the future.
Your child’s attendance at hospital or with your local doctor will be recorded in his or her medical records that will be essential as evidence to support any compensation claim. You should therefore assist your child in ensuring that all injuries and related problems are recorded accurately.
Speak to your Solicitor
It is advisable that you contact a solicitor as soon as possible after you have addressed the immediate medical concerns following your child´s accident. It is highly advantageous to start building a case as early as possible as it will make the solicitor’s work of gathering evidence, including witness statements, easier because people’s memories of the incident will still be fresh. The procedure for a compensation claim by a minor is that proceedings are in fact issued in the name of his or her parent or guardian who acts as his or her ‘next friend’.
Unfortunately, it is very often the case (particularly with regard to road traffic accidents) that a parent and child are hurt in the same accident. As one would expect, the two cases, which are strictly speaking separate claims, will often be dealt with in tandem by your solicitor and the defendant’s insurers.
It should also be noted that all child accident compensation claims must be approved in court by a judge – so unlike certain types of minor compensation claims, you must have always use the services of a legal team.
Child Accident Claims and Court Approval
A solicitor is required for all child accident claims because a judge must review the details of the case in court and approve the settlement. The courts are used in Ireland to ensure that the rights of the child are fully protected.
You should also note that depending on the type of child accident claim, it is probably that the claim will probably have to be submitted first to the Injuries Board and then even if you accept the Injuries Board assessment, you still must have the settlement approved in court. Your solicitor will in any case advise you if the settlement offer by the Injuries Board is acceptable.
Time Limits in Child Accident Cases
Irish law affords extra time for a minor victim (i.e. a child) to pursue an injury compensation claim. Under the Statute of Limitations in Ireland, which normally limits the plaintiff’s right to claim to two years after ‘the date of knowledge’ of the injury, allowance is made so that in the case of a minor the date of knowledge of the injury is in fact the minor victim’s eighteenth birthday. This means that time does not begin to run out until the infant reaches his or her majority (eighteen years of age).
Under current Irish law, therefore, your child has has two years after his or her eighteenth birthday within which to issue proceedings in court. However, it is almost always better to start proceeding as soon as possible, whatever the age of the child.
- Your child´s health and safety is more important than any child accident claims and you should seek urgent medical attention whenever your child has been involved in an accident.
- Thereafter, speak with a solicitor as child accident claims follow a different process than those for adults.
- You will have to represent your child in any child accident claims for personal injury compensation acting as their “next friend”.
- Applications for child accident claims are usually submitted to the Injuries Board Ireland for assessment and then have to be approved by court before payment can be made.
- You will need a solicitor to represent you in court, but it is far better with child accident claims to have one involved from the very beginning.
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 accident claim, you are advised to discuss all of the points raised in the above article with a solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
Copyright © 2009 Eoin P. 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.