Children's Road Accident Claims

Cases of children injured in a road traffic accident as a car passenger or a pedestrian are particularly distressing. Although the procedure for making a claim is slightly different if the person making it is under 18, a child hurt in an RTA has as much right as an adult to make a claim for any injuries they have suffered.

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Parents or guardians of a child under 18 injured in an RTA can begin a road traffic accident claim on their child’s behalf immediately (although a claim may be started any time up until the child’s 18th birthday) acting in the capacity of litigation friend.

The litigation friend deals with the everyday handling of the case and is normally a parent, guardian or other relative. Once your child turns 18, they would be considered an adult and would assume responsibility for their own case. However, there may be some circumstances where that is not possible if they have suffered very serious injuries which affect their mental capacity to deal with their own claim.

If the accident was caused by another vehicle colliding with the family car in which a child was traveling, all the injured occupants including the child would be entitled to claim an award from the driver at fault.

Even if the accident was caused by a family member, the injured child would be able to make a claim against the insurers of the parent or relative who was responsible for the crash. Indeed all of the passengers, relatives or not, and other injured parties would be entitled to make such a claim.

If the driver responsible for the accident is uninsured, didn't stop or cannot be traced, a road accident claim is still possible through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB). Every motor insurer in England and Wales pays a proportion of the annual premiums they receive into this fund set up specifically to compensate the victims of uninsured and unidentified drivers.

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government help and benefits for a road traffic accident (RTA)

Government help and benefits are available if your child has been injured in a road traffic accident as a passenger but, unlike any damages award which is paid to the child, such assistance will usually be given to the parents directly. Although a parent deemed responsible for causing the accident will be unable to act as a litigation friend on the injured child’s behalf, this will have no bearing on entitlement to government support and benefits.

If your child was aged between 16 and 18 when the accident happened and has a long-term health condition or disability that means they cannot live independently, it may be possible to claim Personal Independence Payment.

If they were under 16 at the time of the accident and require more care or supervision than other children their age because of their injuries, it may be possible to claim Disability Living Allowance.

Government benefits and support will either be means-tested or based on the parents’ national Insurance contributions and an assessment of the child’s injuries and needs. To find out exactly what you are entitled to, visit your local Jobcentre Plus. Other useful sources of help and information include the Citizens Advice Bureau. More details of local and central government support for parents of disabled children can be found on the Gov.UK website. Charities such as Scope can also provide useful information.

How do I make a claim about a road traffic accident (RTA)

Choosing the right solicitor for your case is essential. Ideally you should instruct a firm that is expert in both personal injury claims and claims involving children. The solicitor who did your will or conveyancing may well have been competent, but the same firm may not be experienced enough in these potentially complex child personal injury cases.

Similarly you are not obliged to use a law firm appointed by your motor, home or any other legal expenses insurance if you feel they too do not have the expertise or experience to deal with your case effectively and sympathetically.

Our immediate priority at Access Legal will be the health and well-being of your child. If needed we can arrange the correct medical assessment and early treatment, often obtaining interim payments from the other side to fund any medical attention before the claim proper has even begun. We may also arrange for medical experts to assess your child’s injuries and prepare comprehensive reports in order to properly value the claim.

With any road traffic accident claim, especially those involving children, it is unwise to assume that an obvious injury is the full extent of the damage. In some cases, the symptoms of far more severe physical or behavioural problems may not become apparent until weeks or months after the accident.

That’s why your chosen solicitors need both the expertise and patience to handle claims like these, usually on a No-Win-No-Fee basis.

If I have a case about a road traffic accident (RTA)

If your child has been injured in a road traffic accident (RTA) as a car passenger or a pedestrian, you may have a case for making a compensation claim on their behalf.

As with all personal injury claims, your Access Legal team would need to prove that someone was responsible for their injury (either the driver of the vehicle they were travelling in or the driver of another vehicle).

Whatever the circumstances, always contact the police to report the accident and call an ambulance if appropriate. It will help your child’s case if you can take names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident and take photographs of the scene.

Even if there were no independent witnesses you may still have a strong enough case to make a claim. The same applies to pedestrian accidents. Should your child be struck by a car, call the emergency services first then get witness details and take photographs of the scene.

In child road traffic injury cases a claim can be made on the child’s behalf up to three years after they reach the age of 18, so even if the accident occurred several years ago you may still have a case.

Legal action is much more likely to be successful if recall of the events by all the parties concerned is still fresh, so despite the extended limitation period for child accident claims, it is important to seek advice from Access Legal’s specialist lawyers as soon as possible to determine if you do have a case.

More about Road Traffic Accident (RTA) claims

Children can sustain exactly the same sort of injuries in a road traffic accident (RTA) as adults but the consequences can be much more serious. That’s especially true of head injuries, which can have a devastating impact.

The law requires all children travelling in a car to use an EU-approved child seat until they are 12 years of age. It is crucial to make sure it is fitted properly to safeguard your child and avoid accusations of 'contributory negligence' being made against the parents in a child road accident claim.

There are a number of factors your team at Access Legal would consider in any RTA claim for child injury. Damages should cover costs for home tuition if your child has to take a lot of time off school and reimbursing parents for loss of earnings while they provide care for their vulnerable youngster.

Although a child cannot make a road traffic accident claim themselves, if legal action is successful damages are awarded directly to the child, not the adult acting as their litigation friend. Any award will have to be approved by the court to ensure it is large enough to fund the child’s needs now and in the future, especially if the injuries are such that the youngster will need life-long care.

Any damages paid are transferred into a court supervised special investment account which the injured child can get access to when they turn 18. The court may be prepared to release some of the funds before the child reaches 18 if there are compelling reasons to do so.

Road traffic accidents compensation FAQs

Road Traffic Accident RTA Case Study

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Road Traffic Accident RTA

Child injury award funds school trip of a lifetime

Access Legal recently represented a 15 year old child injured in a road traffic accident (RTA). The youngster was wearing his seatbelt in the rear passenger seat of a car being driven by his mother. She pulled out from a side road without really looking and was struck by another car that could not avoid the collision.

Read about how Access Legal helped this child through their RTA case here.

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Road Traffic Accident RTA claims

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