Adelaide injury lawyer Toni Emanuele writes about the unique factors that impact a child’s injury compensation claim.
Children often have a great ability to bounce back quickly from an injury, but some aren’t so lucky. Serious accidents can unfortunately have a significant impact on a child’s future.
The key factor in a child’s injury compensation claim is: to what extent has their future earning capacity been impacted?
Standard compensation rules for South Australia apply, in that the accident must not have been the child’s fault and their life must have been impacted for more than seven days.
Economic loss is the largest component of the child’s claim. Children potentially have a larger loss of earning capacity than adults, depending on the severity of their injuries.
If a child has been injured in a collision with a vehicle, then we need to assess the loss of earning capacity. If, for example, the child was aiming for a career as a doctor, we need to consider how this will be impacted by the injuries. Will the injuries inhibit the child’s ability to study for exams and pursue this career path? Calculating a child’s economic loss can be complicated.
Children’s compensation claims often take longer than adult claims because their injuries need to stabilise before we can proceed. This means the child must have recovered as well as possible from the accident, to enable us to gain a full understanding of their future needs.
Most children need to go through school and in many cases pursue a career, before a true understanding of their future needs can be gained.
Normally, injury claims must be settled or proceedings issued within three years of the accident. For children they have until they are 21 years of age although notice of the claim needs to be given to the insurer within 6 years after the date of the accident.
Children must also have a litigation guardian, which is usually a parent, until they turn 18. All instructions to the lawyer must come from the litigation guardian until they reach that age and have the capacity to manage their own claim.
Parents or carers may also be able to claim compensation (under Wilson v McLeay or voluntary services) for any losses that may have been incurred through caring for their injured child, as long as the duties are over and above what they normally would have provided.
Author: Toni Emanuele