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Child injury award funds school trip of a lifetime
Shoosmiths 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.
Our young client suffered severe left knee and neck injuries which affected his home and school life. His mother readily accepted responsibility and was happy for her son to make a claim against her insurers. A claimant under 18 needs an adult to act as their litigation friend (a relative or a friend appointed by the parent) to instruct the solicitor on behalf of the child client. However, since his mother was responsible for the accident, she could not act in this capacity. She appointed her friend, who was also in the car at the time of the accident, to the role.
We arranged medical reports to determine how long it would take him to recover. The mother's insurance company made an offer to settle the road accident injury claim, which we then sent to a barrister for review before negotiating a more generous settlement.
Any award in a child claim has to be approved by a county court judge at what's called an infant approval hearing, which the client, their litigation friend and legal representative must attend. Usually, an award is held by the court until the client reaches the age of 18. The money, plus interest, is then released.
However, in exceptional circumstances, the judge may allow the money to be paid straight away. In this case, our young client wanted to go on a 'once-in-a-lifetime' school expedition to Africa. The deputy district judge was persuaded to release all the money immediately in order to pay for the trip.