Child RTA Claims
For accidents after 31st May 2021, a new Official Injury Claim service (OIC) (https://www.officialinjuryclaim.org.uk) has been set up, intended to provide a simple step-by-step process for adult claimants to make a claim for minor injuries suffered in a road traffic accident without using a solicitor. Where the claimant does instruct a solicitor, legal costs are not paid by the compensator.
Child claims (where the claimant is under 18) are excluded from the OIC because they are more complex than adult claims. They are presented through the Claims Portal and continue to fall under the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents (https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/protocol/pre-action-protocol-for-low-value-personal-injury-claims-in-road-traffic-accidents-31-july-2013).
An adult can negotiate with insurers and, if terms can be agreed, reach a legally binding settlement without needing to go to court. However, under the court rules, all settlements in child claims must be approved by the court. The government decided to exclude them from the OIC because this additional level of complexity means that they are less suitable for the OIC. Legal costs are payable by the compensator in all child whiplash injury claims including those valued at a tariff figure of less than £1,000 (injuries causing symptoms for less than 9 months), but not other types of injury where damages of less than £1,000 would be awarded. We strongly advise anyone considering pursuing a child claim as an unrepresented claimant to consult a solicitor.
By way of very brief explanation of the extra work and complexity involved in child claims:
- The child must be represented by an adult, known as the “litigation friend” who must take responsibility for conducting proceedings and give undertakings as to costs. The litigation friend is usually a parent, but in some circumstances, it is advisable that another adult be appointed (e.g. if the parent was driving the vehicle in which the claimant was a passenger and was or may have been partly to blame for the accident);
- Written advice must be obtained from a legally qualified advisor (barrister, solicitor or legal executive) about the appropriate settlement level. This advice is required as part of the court process;
- If a settlement figure is agreed, court proceedings should be issued. This requires the completion of formal court documents and payment of a fee. The court will set a date for a hearing, which must be attended by the litigation friend and the claimant. If the correct process has not been followed or the correct documents are not available at court, the settlement may not be approved, in which case there may need to be a further hearing.