Paediatric Medical Negligence Compensation Claims
We must all put our faith in medical professionals at some point in our lives; in most cases we have our first interactions with the healthcare system before we are even born.
Yet sadly, even this first encounter can result in negligent treatment which can cause lasting health problems.
This can be even more devastating for a child because they are at such a crucial point in their development. An injury or illness may have a more severe outcome for them than if an adult had suffered the same negligent treatment.
Negligence claims for children must therefore be handled with extreme care and consideration regarding their:
- ongoing treatment and prognosis
- long-term health
- prospects and needs in the future.
How Does A Child Bring A Medical Negligence Claim?
Children are just as entitled as adults to bring a claim if they have suffered negligent medical treatment resulting in injury or illness.
However, children under the age of 18 cannot make the claim themselves. They must instead have a ‘litigation friend’ to act on their behalf and make legal decisions for them – this is usually one of their parents or their legal guardian.
Teenagers who are capable of understanding what is happening may attend legal meetings with their litigation friend, but ultimately our solicitors will take instructions from the litigation friend.
What Type Of Medical Negligence Affects Children?
Paediatric negligence claims are not limited to treatment received from a specialist; your child may have suffered negligent treatment from their GP, a midwife or any other healthcare professional.
A child may suffer from negligent treatment resulting in any kind of serious illness or injury. However, there are some kinds of clinical negligence which more commonly affect children:
- misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis – failure to correctly identify and treat fractures or chronic illnesses such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes; late diagnosis of serious conditions such as meningitis and septicaemia
- birth injuries resulting in conditions such as cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy
- problems arising from negligent medical treatment of their mother during pregnancy.
How Soon Can I Make A Claim For My Child?
There is no requirement to wait until a child reaches a certain age before bringing a clinical negligence claim. You can start proceedings as soon as you are aware that your child has suffered negligent treatment.
Time Limits For Making A Child’s Medical Negligence Claim
Children have a longer window than adults in which to bring their medical negligence claim. This is to compensate for the fact that their parent or guardian may not have brought a claim on their behalf as a child.
For most medical negligence claims, there is a three-year window in which to issue court proceedings, either from the date the illness/injury occurred or the date you became aware of the issue.
Children have three years from the date they turn 18 to issue proceedings – no matter how long ago in their childhood the injury or illness arose.
In addition, if the child does not have mental capacity to instruct solicitors when they turn 18, this limitation period does not apply for as long as the child lacks capacity.
How Much Could I Claim For My Child?
The amount of compensation you may be able to claim can vary significantly depending on the severity of your child’s injuries.
For the most serious illnesses, doctors may not be able to predict the long-term consequences until your child is much older. In these cases, your claim won’t be finalised but instead we may be able to secure interim payments (if liability is established).
The aim of interim payments is to help you meet your child’s ongoing health, rehabilitation, treatment and care needs until the point that the extent of their injuries and prognosis can be determined.
What Will Happen To My Child's Compensation?
If the parties agree a settlement then a judge must approve it to ensure it is reasonable in all circumstances.
The court will then invest the approved damages until the child reaches the age of 18.
You may apply to the court to release some of the funds before your child reaches 18 if there is a reasonable need (such as for treatment or education).
When your child turns 18, arrangements will be made to send them the full compensation amount plus any accrued interest.
If it is determined that the child will not have mental capacity as an adult, the court will appoint a professional deputy. They will be responsible for managing the child’s funds and making payments to meet their ongoing needs (such as home adaptations, carers or specialist equipment).
Funding A My Child’s Medical Negligence Claim – No Win, No Fee
Coles Miller offers No Win, No Fee funding to help children and their families to bring medical negligence claims.
You won’t have to pay any solicitors’ fees upfront – only a ‘success fee’ if we successfully recover compensation on your child’s behalf (and only if that is approved by a court).
What Do I Do Next? Book A Free Chat
If your child is suffering due to negligent treatment, we understand how difficult a time that can be for your family.
We can help you to secure compensation and get the treatment and support that your child needs.
Book a free chat with us today to find out how we can help.