“My daughter was being taken home from school by her friend’s father when he collided with the rear of another vehicle. She is only 13 years old and is in a terrible amount of neck pain and I do not know whether she can claim compensation or even if her friend’s father will mind. I know that he is insured. Can you help?”

Your daughter will indeed be able to claim compensation for her injuries and, whilst her claim will indeed be against her friend’s father, he has paid insurance to protect him for such claims and whether he minds or not is irrelevant. His insurance company will deal with all of the correspondence and settlement of the claim provided that he co-operates with them at the outset.

Because your daughter is a minor, she has 3 years from her 18th birthday within which to bring a claim. This does not mean that you should not do anything at this stage as memories fade with the passage of time and so it is important for you to keep a log of all medical appointments and expenditure at this stage. It might also be wise to note the amount of your daughter’s suffering on a daily basis and the activities that she is restricted from doing as this will assist when she later visits an independent doctor for a report to be carried out on her injuries.

The court rules do not allow you to settle a minor’s claim out of court as there is a risk that an unscrupulous parent or guardian may use the money for their own purposes as opposed to that of the child. As such, civil proceedings must be issued in every case and your daughter will need a ‘Litigation Friend’ to bring the proceedings on her behalf. If you have managed to agree settlement in principle with the other side, then you can ask the court to approve the settlement terms. A District Judge will normally want to read the advice of a barrister or solicitor supporting the compensation proposed. The money will then be invested by the court until your daughter’s 18th birthday.

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