Most people who suffer a personal injury are able to bring a compensation claim themselves. However, the law recognises that in some cases this is impossible. For example if the injured person is a child, someone who does not have mental capacity, or someone who has passed away and there is a legal mechanism which allows their representative to bring a compensation claim.
Jane Couch, personal injury solicitor at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot outlines the legalities involved in claiming compensation on behalf of someone else.
To be able to successfully bring a compensation claim on someone else’s behalf you need to show the person responsible owed a duty of care to the person injured, that they breached this duty of care and that the injuries were a result of this breach.
You must also, with some exceptions (see below), issue court proceedings within three years of the date of injury or date of knowledge of injury, otherwise a court will usually rule the claim ‘out of time’.
Claiming compensation on behalf of a child
Children under the age of 18 are not allowed by law to make a compensation claim by themselves. However, an adult can pursue injury compensation on the child’s behalf acting as their litigation friend. A litigation friend could be a parent, guardian, family member, friend, social worker, or a solicitor who is willing to act on the child’s behalf. You can be nominated or apply to the court to become a litigation friend. If no one suitable is appointed, the Official Solicitor can take on the role.
There is always the option, however, for those injured when they were a child to launch their own compensation claim when they reach the age of 18. The three-year limitation period only starts to run from the date of their 18th birthday, which means they have until the day before their 21st birthday to start a claim.
Claiming on behalf of someone who is mentally incapacitated
If someone lacks mental capacity, there is no time limit for bringing a claim. However, if they regain mental capacity, the three-year time limit will start from the date this happens.
Claiming compensation for someone who is deceased
You can make a claim for compensation for fatal negligence if you are classed as a dependent of the deceased. This includes:
- A spouse;
- An unmarried partner who had lived with the deceased for at least two years immediately prior to death;
- A direct descendant, included adopted children and legal step-children;
- A parent, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin; or
- Anyone who was treated as a parent or a child of the family by the deceased.
The deceased’s executors or personal representatives can also bring a claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate for injury or losses suffered by the deceased prior to death, and for any expenses that arise from the death which the estate has to pay for.
How a solicitor can help
A specialist personal injury solicitor will be able to quickly assess whether you have a valid case and help you gather the evidence you need to strengthen your case. They can advise on the legalities, refer your loved one to medical experts for assessment if required, and will work hard to negotiate the financial settlement.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.