Can I make a compensation claim on behalf of someone else?
Sometimes, it is not possible for a person who has been injured in a cycling accident to make a compensation claim for himself.
This is often the case where the injured person is a child, or they have suffered a life-changing brain injury.
In these and other circumstances, someone else can step in and make the claim on the injured person's behalf.
Making a claim on behalf of a child
Statistics published by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) state that one quarter of cyclists killed or injured in accidents are children.
According to UK law, children under the age of 18 cannot file their own personal injury claim. If a child is hurt in a cycling accident due to the negligence of another, a responsible adult must make the claim on their behalf. That person will usually be the child's parent or legal guardian.
The time limit for filing a child injury claim is three years, just like an adult claim. However, the time limit does not start running until the child's 18th birthday. This means that a compensation claim can be filed at any time before the child reaches the age of 21.
Making a claim on behalf of another adult
According to RoSPA, 40% of cyclists involved in an accident sustain a head injury. Major head injuries factor into 75% of cycling fatalities.
In certain circumstances, it is possible to make a claim on behalf of an adult who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions on their own. Such Claimants are known as 'protected parties.' The category includes, for example, adults with learning disabilities and those who enter a minimally conscious state after a brain injury.
The time limit for commencing a claim is three years from the date the protected person ceases to be under a disability. If the protected person never regains the required mental capacity, there will be no time limit for filing the claim.
Acting as a litigation friend
The individual making a claim on behalf of a child or protected party is called a 'litigation friend'. That person has a legal duty to conduct the proceedings fairly and competently, and make decisions about the case in the best interests of the child or protected party.
It is important that the litigation friend has no personal interest in the claim. For example, if the child's parent was also involved in the accident that caused the child's injuries, it would be appropriate for another family member to step in as the child's litigation friend.
Awards of damages
Whether damages are agreed in negotiation or awarded by the judge at trial, any settlement agreed on behalf of a child or protected party must be approved by the Court at an informal hearing.
If the judge believes that the settlement is reasonable and proper, they will make an order approving it on behalf of the injured party.
For child claims, the Court will retain any significant damages payment and invest it on behalf of the child. The child will receive the funds when they reach 18.
For protected party claims, the Court must decide, on medical evidence, whether the Claimant is capable of handling their financial affairs. If they are not, and the award is significant, the Court of Protection will appoint a deputy to manage the protected party's finances.