Can I bring a personal injury claim for my child?

No parent wants to think about their child being seriously injured, but if the unthinkable happens it is prudent to be prepared and to understand in advance what is required in order to bring a personal injury claim for your child.

What types of ways are children commonly injured?

Common ways children incur injuries include:

  • schoolyard accidents;
  • accidents in public places such as playgrounds or shopping centres;
  • traffic and motor vehicle accidents;
  • dog or other animal attacks;
  • injuries caused by medical negligence; and
  • workplace injuries (if your child is of working age).

How can a child’s injury or disability affect their wider family?

When a child suffers a life-altering injury it can have a profound effect on other family members, including siblings. Not only can the physical element of caring for an injured child be exhausting and labour intensive, but it can also have a great impact on the mental health of the whole family.

Parents of injured and/or disabled children may have trouble keeping their existing job or may even be unable to work at all due to the time spent caring for their child. This can also alter other aspects of their life, including their social life and time spent caring for their other children.

Increased costs, particularly if one or both parents are no longer able to maintain their job, can also be a significant burden on parents of injured and/or disabled children.

How do I know if my child is eligible for compensation?

Children do not have the legal capacity to bring a personal injury claim themselves, and they must be represented by a Litigation Guardian, i.e., someone who is acting in the best interests of the child and is able to manage the claim for them.

If your child has been injured due to the negligence of a third party, either because of an accident or as part of a medical procedure, they may be entitled to compensation.

Similarly, if an unborn baby suffers an injury or disability because of negligence against their pregnant mother during medical treatment, the child may also be entitled to compensation. Typical instances of this type of medical malpractice occur when a baby is deprived of oxygen during birth, which can lead to permanent disability.

What types of compensation can I claim on behalf of my child?

Personal injury claims for children can be more complex than those for adults. This is because more investigations need to be made into how the injury or disability will impact the child into their adult life. It is not always immediately known how an injury or disability can affect a child later in life and to ensure the maximum compensation is sought, lengthy investigations and thorough treatments may need to occur before seeking compensation.

Certain injuries, especially those including the head or brain, can have severe developmental impacts on the child and it can therefore take many years to ascertain the full effect the injury has had. Aspects of the child’s life, such as their education and ability to gain employment, will need to be assessed rigorously.

Parents will need to consider the following when considering a claim:

  • what kind of assistance will your child require to be able to manage their injury or illness?
  • are ongoing treatments required? If so, what type and how often?
  • will your child be required to attend a special school, or can they attend a mainstream school?

How much compensation is my child entitled to?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to compensation, which is why a parent should consider the above questions. Various aspects of the child’s current and future life as well as what they may miss out on as a result of their injury will be factored into the amount of compensation they may be awarded. Generally, the type of compensation your child may be entitled to includes:

  • compensation for lost future earnings;
  • funds to pay for support workers or other care required;
  • funds to cover the cost of rehabilitation, including equipment required to improve your child’s quality of life; and
  • damages for the pain and suffering experienced by your child.

When can I make a personal injury claim for my child?

Claims for compensation in personal injury cases must be acted upon as soon as possible after the injury has occurred, and the longer you put off commencing the claim process, the harder it may become to claim compensation.

The reason such strict timelines apply to these types of cases is that evidence must be collected early on to avoid it being lost or destroyed (even inadvertently), and as claims involving children involve thorough investigation, as much time as possible will need to be dedicated to building the case, which is time that can be lost if the injured party does not act quickly.

If your child has suffered an injury and you would like to pursue a claim for compensation on their behalf, please contact our experienced personal injury lawyers who can discuss with you your child’s eligibility and the process for making a claim. Contact us on (07) 4052 0700.

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