Linda Millband, joint head of Thompsons Solicitors' medical negligence team, looks at clinical negligence claims relating to children
Medical negligence claims can be brought for children who have suffered or been injured as a result of neglectful or inappropriate medical treatment. The courts say that children (under the age of 18) can't claim themselves because they are too young, but an adult can make a claim for them.
The system can be confusing, and understandably parents and guardians can feel unsure about whether they can make a clinical negligence claim and what their rights are if their child has been mistreated. We have developed this Q&A to help explain the process and advise people on whether or not they might have a medical negligence claim.
What type of clinical negligence claims affect children?
Instances of clinical negligence affecting children can be complicated and diverse. But however large or small your child's injury is, if it is the result of negligent or inappropriate medical treatment then you may be able to bring a claim for compensation.
At Thompsons, we have supported hundreds of children and families through the compensation process after they have fallen victim to a variety of types of medical negligence, including misdiagnosis claims, delays in diagnosis and birth injury claims including cerebral palsy and Erb's palsy.
How do medical negligence claims for children differ from adults?
The time limit for starting a medical negligence claim for an injured child is three years after the injured child turns 18. For medical negligence claims involving adults, the time limit is three years from the date of injury, or three years from the date an individual becomes aware of the negligence or injury.
To make a compensation claim, your solicitor will need to establish how the standard of care your child received fell below reasonable expectations, whether there is a link between the 'breach of duty' and your child's injuries, and the levels of compensation your child will require to help them sustain as independent a life as possible following their injury.
At Thompsons, we work with a wide range of medical experts who – alongside our solicitors - assess clients' long-term care and rehabilitation needs so that the amount of compensation secured reflects these requirements.
This can all seem incredibly complicated, but your expert solicitor will be able to guide you through the process and explain everything in plain English.
How is compensation calculated and what is an interim payment?
In some cases, a child's injury is so serious that doctors may not be able to predict the long-term consequences of the injury until the child is older.
In those cases, claims won't be finalised but instead, it is possible to pursue interim payments to help meet a child's ongoing care needs until the full extent of their injuries can be determined at a later date.
Interim payments offer families a vital source of funding for the injured child and can go towards rehabilitation costs or ongoing treatment bills.
What will happen to my child's compensation?
At Thompsons Solicitors, we attain Court Approval before settling medical negligence claims for babies and children.
The benefit of this is that a Judge approves the amount of compensation the injured child will receive, regardless of whether or not the person or organisation responsible for the child's injuries admits liability.
After this, the compensation is put into a Special Investment Account which the injured child can access when they turn 18. The court may release some of the funds at the time the amount of compensation is approved before the child turns 18 years of age if there are compelling reasons to do so, for example to pay for special education or medical treatment needs.
Find out more about how we have helped support a family through a medical negligence claim involving one of their children; click here to read Bilaal's story, a boy who suffered severe dystonic athetoid cerebral palsy as a result of clinical negligence.
Concerned about negligent medical treatment or diagnoses? Talk to us for advice and support today?
Our discrete and compassionate solicitors are experienced in the full range of medical injury claims, and will work with you to establish whether you have a claim for compensation. If you, or a loved one, think you have suffered medical negligence in the last three years, contact us for advice.
If the incident happened more than three years ago, you will usually not be able to make a claim for compensation. However, exceptions do apply – such as instances where you could not have reasonably known your symptoms were caused by clinical negligence, or cases involves adults who lack legal capacity or children – so contact us for advice.
For further information, visit our How to Make A Compensation Claim page.