Bringing a Claim on Behalf Of My Child

It is extremely distressing for a parent or guardian to witness their child suffer a medical related injury. We at Croke Medical Law understand how upsetting and stressful this time can be. If you are the parent or guardian of a child who has suffered due to substandard medical treatment, you may find the following information helpful. 

Who Can Bring the Claim on my Child’s Behalf?

Only an individual over the age of 18 who has been injured during the course of receiving negligent medical treatment can bring a medical negligence claim. However, if a minor under the age of 18 has suffered a medical related injury, their parent/legal guardian can bring a medical negligence claim on their behalf. 

The person who brings the claim for the child is referred to as the Child’s “Next Friend”. This representative is typically a parent.

What is the Time Limit for Bringing a Claim on My Child’s Behalf?

There are very strict rules (known as the Statute of Limitations) which dictate the length of time you have to make a medical negligence claim.  

Generally speaking, an adult has two years from the date of the negligent act to bring a medical negligence claim. 

However, for minor children, the 2 year time limit does begin to run until the child’s 18th birthday, allowing them until the eve of their 20th birthday to initiate a claim. 

However, as discussed above a claim can be brought by a parent/guardian of a child while the child is still under the age of 18. This may be advisable in circumstances where the child is injured and the compensation will provide much needed therapies and support to reduce the impact of his/her injuries. Further, the longer the time period between the date of injury and the commencement of proceedings, the harder it will be to produce key witnesses and obtain copies of relevant documentation. Therefore, if you are the guardian or parent of a child and you are concerned about suspected medical negligence involving your child, it is always best to seek advice from an experienced medical negligence solicitor as early as possible.

Will My Child Have to Appear in Court?

The vast majority of medical negligence claims are settled out of court through settlement or mediated negotiations. There are some instances where a case might proceed to Trial if agreement cannot be reached as regards liability and/or compensation. However, even if a case proceeds to Trial, your legal team will try to minimise the stress for the child and his/her family and more often than not there is no need for the child to appear or give evidence. 

What Compensation Will Be Sought for My Child and How Is It Calculated?

Past and future damages will be sought on behalf of your child. Damages are subdivided into General and Special Damages. 

General Damages are damages awarded for the child’s pain and suffering, their loss of amenity (how their day to day life has been affected by their injury and reduced life expectancy (if applicable). General Damages are calculated by reference to Court Guidelines and previous settlements involving injuries of a similar nature. 

Special Damages are damages awarded to compensate you and your child for financial losses suffered to date and future financial losses because of your child’s injury. Examples of special damages include, travel expenses, medical expenses, therapy costs, costs of professional care and loss of earnings if your child’s ability to work has been impacted. 

In some cases it may be necessary to instruct experts to quantify the financial loss your child has suffered and/or will suffer into the future.  

The exact amount of special damages claimed will be determined by the severity and lasting impact of the medical negligence on your child’s life.

What Will Happen My Child’s Compensation?

Any settlement achieved on behalf of a child must be approved by the High Court. The benefit of this legal obligation is that the Judge approves the amount of compensation the injured child will receive. 

Once a High Court Judge has approved the settlement, the compensation will be lodged in a Court Controlled Account until the child reaches the age of 18. Certain funds can be released earlier providing they are identified as being necessary and beneficial to the child’s condition. An example of a compelling reason to release funds prior to the child’s 18th birthday is to pay for special education or medical treatment. 

If your child has suffered an injury which you believe was as a result of a medical error, you may be entitled to bring a medical negligence claim on their behalf. 

To speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor who will listen with the utmost empathy, please contact Laura today.