To make a claim for compensation on your own behalf, you must be 18 years of age or older. In the UK, a child is considered to be anyone under the age of 18, and the law describes such people as ‘minors’. But while a child who has had an accident can’t make a claim on their own behalf, an adult can make a claim on the child’s behalf.
Another important thing to remember is this – if a child does not have a responsible adult to claim on their behalf, once they have reached their 18th birthday they’ll have 3 years to make a claim for compensation on their own behalf. Injury claim solicitors in this instance are highly recommended to ensure a strong case and a swift and efficient outcome.
Making a claim on a child’s behalf
The law in the UK is designed to ensure that the most vulnerable people in society, children, are able to get the compensation that they are legally entitled to. So while a person under 18 cannot make a claim on their own behalf, an adult can for them.
The adult in this instance is legally known as the ‘litigation friend’. Most of the time, the litigation friend will be the child’s parent or legal guardian. Proof is always required to show that an individual is legally able to act on a child’s behalf.
It’s important to remember at this stage that a child cannot hire a solicitor themselves or sign any agreements – a child’s signature is not legally binding under UK law. As such, the adult or ‘litigation friend’ signing any agreement will be personally responsible for it – including any potential costs, legal bills etc.
Minor settlement hearing
While injury claim solicitors and the litigation friend will work in a child’s best interests, no payout can be achieved without what’s called a ‘minor settlement hearing’, or ‘infant approval hearing’. This takes place in court and a judge will consider the case, along with all evidence in a claim, before offering a level of compensation.
What happens to the compensation?
Contrary to belief, the litigation friend doesn’t get to touch it. The full compensation amount is in fact invested in the ‘court funds office’ to stop the child or anybody else recklessly spending it. However, a small amount of the funds may be released immediately if it will benefit the child. It’s important to remember that your solicitor is not able to offer you financial advice, and so how the money is invested is decided by the judge, although the litigation friend may speak up to request how the money is invested.