Child Personal Injury Accident Claims
The claim for financial losses are usually quite easy for a solicitor to calculate on the child’s behalf. The Child’s parents who would normally sustain the financial loss by taking time off work to look after the child etc would be advised to inform the accident claims solicitor to obtain a written letter from the child’s parent’s employer. The other losses such as the repairs to the vehicle and car hire for instance will be simple basic math.
However this is different from the quantification of the personal injuries. The calculation of a personal injury claim for a child or adult for that matter is not an exact science. Following the accident the Solicitor would obtain all necessary medical records for the child including the GP and hospital. These medical records would then be forwarded to an independent doctor who will examine the child and provide a written medical report setting out any relevant medical history of the child prior to the accident and take instructions from the child and or the parent about the accident circumstances and injuries complained of. The doctor would then provide a full written report to the instructing solicitor about the nature and extent of the injuries to the child following the accident claim. The doctor would also state in the report if-
- The child’s injuries have now resolved at the time of the examination and if so, when they resolved and if that time was reasonable having regard to the accident circumstances complained of
- The child’s injuries will be resolved following the examination, and if so when it is expected the child would recover from the accident. A prognosis would be expected by the solicitor from the doctor as to when (i.e. a date in the future) the child is expected to fully recover from the injuries.
- The child’s injuries are permanent. If that is the claim then the solicitor would expect the medical doctor to set out fully the extent and nature of the injury and how in both physically and mentally the child’s quality of life will be affected by the injuries suffered in the accident.
- The child’s injuries are so severe to require further medical experts from different disciplines to advise upon the full extent of the injuries to the child i.e. orthopaedic, urologist, accident and emergency consultant, psychologist amongst others.
- The child’s injuries are such that the expert will wish to take a “guarded” opinion about the nature and extent of the child’s injuries and will advise the solicitor to take a “wait and see” approach. What this means here is that the medical expert is unable to say with certainty that the child will be able to recover from the child’s injuries by a certain time interval in the future following the examination. Therefore to provide an more informed opinion about the injury to the child, the expert will request to the solicitor that he or she would wish to see the child again in, say, a further 12 months time and examine the child once again and see how the child has recovered. The solicitor would then request a further medical examination at a later time and obtain another supplemental report on the injuries before settling the claim.
Negotiations to Settle The Claim
Once the medical report has been sent to the solicitor from the medical expert the written report would be reviewed by solicitor and a copy will be sent to the child’s parents for approval. Once approved the solicitor will then consider the injuries of the child as set out in the report and compare the injuries with claims decided in the courts previously where other children had sustained similar injuries. To solicitors this is called “precedents” and the compensation that will be payable to the child for the injury will be reflected by other cases decided in the past. The solicitor will have to be guided by the awards in earlier claim decided in court. Once the solicitor has considered the compensation amount that is reasonable for the injuries the child has sustained then the solicitor will advise the parent (or litigation friend) of what the solicitor considers is reasonable compensation. Once the amount is agreed then the child’s solicitor will write to the other person at fault and attempt to settle the claim without even taking court action.
To settle the claim for compensation for the child’s injuries the solicitor will often put forward the names of the precedent cases in support of the claim. For the financial losses the solicitor would have obtained documents in support such as the repair invoices, wage loss from the child parent’s employers, mileage allowance for travel and parking etc. These would be sent to the other solicitor representing the defendant and negotiations will take place. If the solicitors in the claim are unable to reach an agreement to settle the claim for injury and losses then the only other way to resolve the claim would be by the child’s solicitor taking court action or through mediation.
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