Q: About three years ago my husband and I were driving home and, unfortunately, the roads were wet and the car skidded and crashed. We were all injured. My daughter broke her arm and had to spend three nights in hospital. She still has a small degree of pain, and her specialist has just told us that she is likely to have that pain for some time. It’s nothing that should impact terribly on her day to day living, but nevertheless the specialist does think that it will go on. I still have some pain too. Is there anything we can do at this late stage?
Firstly, you should ensure that your daughter has all appropriate medical care, including physiotherapy if recommended by her GP and specialist.
While it appears from your description that the accident was a single-car accident, you should still consult with your solicitor. You should bear in mind that, as an innocent person who was not in control of the vehicle, it is open to you to take an action against the driver – or more particularly the insurance company for the driver.
When it comes to personal injury matters, an adult generally has two years from the date of the incident to make a claim. However, for children, that particular clock does not begin to ‘tick’ until they become an adult – that is, the time starts when they turn 18 and runs until their 20th birthday.
However, at such a remove, it can be difficult to take up documentation and medical reports and the like. You should take immediate steps to consult with your solicitor to ensure that the necessary notifications can be sent sooner rather than later.
It would be important to note that any potential claim you might have had as an innocent passenger is now ‘statute barred’.
When taking any case that involves a minor, a parent or guardian must act as a ‘Next Friend’. That Next Friend instructs the solicitor to take all necessary steps in order to move the case forward, including taking up engineers reports, medical reports, and instructing legal professionals.
For cases involving children, any potential settlement of the case must be approved by the court. Any award or settlement as approved by the court is lodged with the court services until such time as your daughter turns 18. The judge may direct that certain sums, to cover physiotherapy or other medical fees, be released to you.