Making a Medical Negligence Claim for a Child

Making a Medical Negligence Claim for a Child
LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel Updated: In: Medical Negligence

You can raise a medical negligence claim for a child who has been injured due to neglectful care or inappropriate medical treatment. In accordance with the courts, a child under the age of 18 cannot make a claim on behalf of themselves. However, an adult can raise a claim on the child’s behalf.

Making a medical negligence claim may seem daunting for parents and guardians who are unfamiliar with the process, and unsure of their rights. In this article, we break down the considerations to make and the steps you can take if you are seeking to claim on behalf of a child.

If you suspect that your child has been the victim of medical negligence, it’s important to seek justice. Perusing a claim provides vital compensation and helps flag negligent areas of care for the health service provider to improve.

Examples of Common Medical Negligence Claims Affecting Children

Unfortunately, there is a large variety of medical negligence claims that affect children, however, some of the more common examples are:

  • Birth injuries, causing conditions such as cerebral palsy due to negligent treatment before or during childbirth.
  • Undiagnosed sepsis.
  • Delayed diagnosis of meningitis.
  • Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cancer.
  • Failure to diagnose congenital dysplasia of the hip (CDH).

Can a Child Make a Medical Negligence Claim?

However big or small your child’s injury is, if it was caused or made worse by negligent care, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Individuals under the age of 18 cannot bring forward a medical negligence claim. However, they are still eligible for compensation. Therefore, an adult of sound capacity will need to act on behalf of the child. This is known as a ‘litigation friend.’

With a litigation friend and a solicitor acting on behalf of the child, a medical negligence claim can be perused.

Alternatively, once the child turns 18 years of age, they have three years in which they can bring forward their own claim.

The Steps Involved in Making a Medical Negligence Claim for a Child

Although claims will differ person to person, generally the following steps are carried out when making a medical negligence claim:

Initial Assessment

To start your claim, a solicitor will provide an initial, no-obligation assessment of your child’s case. A member of our medical negligence team will ask you a series of questions regarding what happened. From there our team will be able to assess the likelihood of a successful claim. If our team believes you have grounds to make a claim, we will advise you on the next steps.

Discussing Funding Options

If you choose to proceed with a claim, our team will discuss the funding options available. In most cases, medical negligence claims are operated on a no-win, no-fee basis.

Gathering Evidence to Support the Claim

Our solicitors will collect evidence in support of your child’s claim. This involves obtaining and reviewing medical records and gathering medical reports and witness statements to form a detailed analysis of the case. If it is deemed necessary, an independent medical expert will review the details of the case. The medical expert’s opinion helps identify the future impact that the negligence may have upon the child’s health and quality of life. The medical expert will also give recommendations on what care and rehabilitation would assist in the recovery of your child.

Contacting the Responsible Health Service

Once all evidence has been obtained, your solicitor will contact the health service provider responsible for the harm of your child. The health service provider will be informed of the claim being made against them so they can investigate and either admit or deny liability. If the service provider admits liability, our team will look to secure part of the compensation through interim payments. This will help pay for needs such as care costs, home and vehicle adaptations, and rehabilitation treatments.

Settlement and Compensation

All claims are conducted in accordance with a set protocol. This means that your solicitor will always try to resolve the claim without the need to initiate court proceedings. However, if the service provider does not acknowledge liability or fails to reach agreement on the amount of compensation, our team will initiate court proceedings. Throughout court proceedings, our team will be there supporting you through every step, especially if the claim goes to trial.

It’s essential to be aware that claims involving children must undergo an infant approval hearing before a judge. This must happen even if a compensation agreement is reached. This step ensures that the child receives a fair settlement amount and is a mandatory requirement, even when the defendant consents to the final compensation sum.

Should I Wait to Make a Medical Negligence Claim for a Child?

In some cases, the full extent of child’s injuries may not be revealed until they have grown older.

In cases such as these, an interim payment will be made to support the child and their family in the meantime until the claim can be finalised later in their life.

How is Compensation Calculated and Paid to Children?

Due to the young age of some victims, it is not expected of them to handle large sums of compensation. As a result, compensation awarded in a successful case will be placed in a Special Investment Account to be held until the child reaches 18. Some of this money will be released at the time if the court believes it appropriate. This could be for funding educational or medical needs.

In cases where a child’s injury is so serious that the doctors may not be able to predict the long-term implications, claims will not be imminantley finalised. Instead, the child will be given an interim payment to help meet the child’s care needs until the full extent of the injury is determined in the future.

An interim payment provides the family with an essential source of funding for the injured child and can contribute towards rehabilitation costs or ongoing treatment bills.

Making a Medical Negligence Claim for a Child with AWH Solicitors

To make a compensation claim, our medical negligence solicitors will establish how the care your child received fell below reasonable standards. Furthermore, we will investigate if there is a link between the ‘breach of medical duty’ and your child’s injuries. Finally, our solicitors will look at the levels of compensation your child will require. The compensation is there to help with rehabilitation and so your child can live an independent life.

Our solicitors work closely with a team of healthcare professionals who help evaluate the long-term care needs of our clients. This ensures the compensation our clients receive aligns with their specific needs.

While the process of making a claim may seem complex, our expert solicitors will guide you through the process. Our team will provide compassionate support, ensuring each step is explained in a transparent and straightforward manner.

Getting Started with Your Claim

At AWH, our medical negligence solicitors are experts in securing successful claims for our clients. If you or a loved one has experienced medical negligence in the last three years, please contact our team.

If negligence happened more than three years ago, you are not likely to be able to claim compensation. However, please still get in contact as there are some instances where exceptions apply. This could be where you could not have known your symptoms were caused by medical negligence. Alternatively, may include cases where adults lack legal capacity to bring forward a claim.

To read more about our team’s recent successful claims, click here.

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