Representing children who have been injured or have suffered severe consequences as a result of medical negligence is a particular area of expertise for our team.
As the family of a child with serious injuries or a health condition, we understand that you are already dealing with difficult emotional and practical issues. Your child may need on-going therapies, specialist equipment, adaptations to your home or help with education.
We will support you through the process of bringing a claim, so that your child has the opportunity to obtain much needed compensation. We are very experienced in securing substantial awards of compensation which allow children to be fully supported throughout their lives. Our expertise is recognised by the legal directories Legal 500 and Chambers UK. We are also signatories to the Serious Injury Guide.
In some cases, children are still receiving medical treatment from the hospital in which they were injured. We deal sensitively with this situation, so that the claim can be pursued without any impact on your child’s ongoing treatment.
If your child has suffered a personal injury or an unexpectedly poor outcome from medical treatment, please contact us to discuss how we can help.
Situations in which we often assist
Some of the ways in which children suffer negligently caused injury or substandard medical treatment include:
- Injuries sustained at school or on an organised trip
- Road traffic accidents
- Delays by a GP in referring a child to hospital
- Failure to treat meningitis or sepsis (which can have serious consequences including brain damage, limb amputation or hearing loss)
- Errors in treatment of undescended testes in baby boys
- Medication errors
- Problems during surgery or other hospital treatment
We also act for children who have suffered injury during birth or in the neonatal period, which can result in conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy, Erb’s Palsy or other problems. See our Cerebral Palsy and Birth Injury page for further details.
Your child’s case
Your child’s case will be investigated by our specialist lawyers, led by a partner. This usually involves working with experienced experts to understand your child’s injury. We consider how the injury was caused and the way in which it will impact your child over the course of their lifetime.
We also calculate the funds required to put in place an individualised package of high quality care and support.
Compensation may also be claimed for losses, such as lost earnings or pension, if your child’s future ability to work is affected by their injury.
For further information about compensation we have secured for children, see cases we have acted in.
PAEDIATRIC (CHILD) INJURY FAQS
Is there a time limit for bringing a claim for a child?
In England and Wales, if a child is injured by negligence, they usually have until their 21st birthday to formally start their claim at Court.
There are circumstances in which the rules differ; for example, if a child will not have mental capacity to bring the claim when they are an adult, there is usually no time limit.
There is an exception for claims brought in connection with errors in antenatal care, where this led to a problem being missed, that would have affected the parent(s) decision about whether to continue the pregnancy. In that situation, the claim must usually be brought by the parent(s) and not the child. Because of this, the three year period allowed for formally beginning a claim at Court begins on the date of the negligence or the parents’ ‘date of knowledge’ (if that is later).
How do I bring a claim on behalf of a child?
Where a claim relates to injuries suffered by a child; a family member (or other trusted person) can act as their ‘Litigation Friend’ and bring the claim on their behalf. Usually the Litigation Friend is one of the child’s parents. We take our instructions from the Litigation Friend throughout the claim, including at the stage of agreeing a settlement.
What if my child is now an adult?
If an adult has ‘mental capacity’ then they will need to bring the claim themselves although, as a parent, you can still support them in doing so.
If your child does not have ‘mental capacity’ to bring a claim in adulthood, then a Litigation Friend can bring the claim on their behalf, in the same way as if they were still a child (see above).
What is the process for bringing a claim?
We start by obtaining evidence. This can include medical records, accident reports, health and safety assessments, witness statements and expert evidence. These will be used to prove that your child’s injury was caused by negligence.
We also calculate the amount of compensation that can be claimed. Typically this involves instructing experienced experts to advise on your child’s needs, in order to maximise the level of compensation. We then try to reach a financial settlement with the Defendant (the individual or organisation legally responsible for the injury) or their insurer.
In some cases, settlement is agreed at an early stage. In other circumstances, it may be necessary to begin Court proceedings.
For further information on this process, read our Guide to Making a Claim.
Will my child’s case be decided by the Court?
Probably not. The vast majority of personal injury and medical negligence claims are not decided by the Court. Successful claims are usually resolved by agreeing a settlement either before or during Court proceedings. Occasionally, the Court will decide a case, if it cannot be resolved any other way.
Once a settlement is agreed, the Court is asked to consider and approve it. This is a safeguard required under the Court rules to ensure that the settlement is in your child’s best interests.
How is the amount of compensation decided?
We tailor the compensation to meet the needs of your child.
We consider how their injuries affect them now and how this will change over the course of their life. We then calculate the amount of funds required to meet your child’s additional needs and compensate them. Depending upon the circumstances, this may include funds for:
- Round-the-clock private care
- Private therapies and medical care
- Specialist equipment and vehicles
- Adapted accommodation
- Support with education or work (if that is possible for your child)
- Compensation for loss of earnings and pension
We regularly use leading experts and barristers to assist in identifying all aspects of an injured child’s needs.
What happens to compensation obtained for a child?
Where a child is likely to have ‘mental capacity’ when they reach adulthood, the Court will usually hold the compensation for them until they are 18. Before that age, funds can be released from the Court to meet their needs.
If a child is unlikely to have ‘mental capacity’ as an adult, a professional ‘Deputy’ is usually appointed to manage the funds on their behalf. The Deputy will release money and support the family to ensure that a child’s needs are met in an appropriate way.
See Kingsley Napley’s Court of Protection and Deputyship page for further details of the role of a professional Deputy.
I am struggling to meet my child’s needs. Will it take a long time before their case is concluded?
Medical negligence and personal injury claims typically involve detailed investigation and expert evidence. Claims for children often take a number of years to resolve fully.
Our approach is to seek an admission of liability (i.e. that negligence occurred and caused injury) as early as possible in the process.
When liability is established, the Defendant usually has to pay part of the compensation immediately. This allows your child’s needs to begin to be met, while the work to quantify the full amount of compensation continues.
How do I access my child’s medical records?
Medical records are usually the starting point for our investigation of a claim. With your permission we will request these records directly from the treatment provider(s).
Our clients sometimes wish to obtain copies of the records themselves, before deciding whether to begin a claim. Please see our Guide to Accessing Medical Records for further information on how to request records.
Other organisations and resources that may help
- AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents)
- Serious Injury Guide
- APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers)
- The Child Brain Injury Trust
- Meningitis Now
- DEMAND (Design and Manufacture for Disability)
Partner and Head of Department
Associate (Chartered Legal Executive)