When making a personal injury claim, the claimant might need a ‘litigation friend’ to support them. This might be true if they cannot manage their affairs themselves or they are too young to take legal action. In this article, we’ll look at what’s involved in becoming a litigation friend.
If you decide that you’d like to help somebody claim compensation by becoming their litigation friend, we can help. Our team of solicitors have decades of experience in dealing with personal injury and medical negligence claims and they could guide you through the claims process as well. Please get in touch on 0800 652 1345 if you’d like to find out more.
What is a litigation friend?
If somebody has been injured through no fault of their own but can’t start a compensation claim themselves, a litigation friend could be used instead. Generally, the two types of claimants that might use this process are:
- Legally, if you’re below 18-years old, you can’t hire a solicitor and you can’t represent yourself either. As such, personal injury claims involving children must be handled by a litigation friend.
- Protected parties. This term encompasses any adult that cannot deal with their personal affairs. It can include individuals who lack the mental capacity to manage their own personal injury claim. It can also include those that are so ill or too badly injured that claiming independently isn’t possible.
If you’d like to claim compensation on behalf of a child or a friend and would like free advice on doing so, please get in touch.
How is a litigation friend chosen?
To become a litigation friend, an application will need to be made to a court. This is something your solicitor could help with. Anybody can apply to become a litigation friend and the court will check they are competent and will complete their task fairly.
According to the government’s litigation friend criteria, the following could all become a litigation friend:
- A child’s parent or guardian.
- A court protection deputy.
- Family members.
- A solicitor.
- Somebody with a lasting power of attorney (or enduring power of attorney).
In some cases, where no suitable person can be found, the Official Solicitor could become the litigation friend.
Upon receiving your application, the court will check your suitability. This will include verifying that:
- You’re able to make fair and competent decisions about the claim; and
- Your own interests do not conflict with the claimants.
Once your suitability has been confirmed, your solicitor will be able to begin discussing the case with you.
You’ll remain a litigation friend until:
- The claim is finalised and compensation has been paid.
- Your child turns 18-years old; or
- The claimant that you’re representing regains their mental capacity to act for themselves.
If you have any questions about becoming a litigation friend, please get in touch.
What role does a litigation friend play in personal injury claims?
When becoming a litigation friend for a personal injury claim, it is important to note that you must always have the claimant’s best interests at heart. When making any decisions about the claim, you must always consider those best interests.
In your role as litigation friend, you may need to:
- Discuss the case with solicitors and take on any legal advice they provide.
- Instruct the solicitor on what to do (in the best interests of the claimant).
- Sign any legal documentation.
- Act on behalf of the claimant in any court proceedings.
- Update the claimant about the progress of the case where possible.
- Decide on whether to accept a compensation offer if one is made.
It is important to point out that being a litigation friend can be hard and emotional. Some claims will involve a lot of stress for you and the person you are representing. In serious injury claims such as those involving severe brain injuries, the process can continue for many years.
If you are thinking of becoming a litigation friend, you must consider whether you’re able to take on the role properly. If you don’t feel that you’ll be able to cope with the responsibility, you mustn’t be pressurised into doing so. Remember, the Official Solicitor could be used instead.
If you are concerned about what’s involved or have any questions, please call us today and speak with a specialist advisor.
How does being a litigation friend affect the claims process?
Generally, once a litigation friend has been appointed, the claim will proceed as normal. That means the solicitor will gather evidence, collect medical evidence and file the claim with the defendant. As a result, the litigation friend won’t need to deal directly with the defendant or their insurers.
The main difference in the claims process is that any compensation settlement must be approved by a court. If an offer is accepted by the litigation friend, it will be reviewed by a court to ensure it compensates the claimant properly.
Also, any payment will be managed by the court and kept in a trust fund. This will be the case until the claimant turns 18-years old or regains their mental capacity. In the meantime, the litigation friend can request, in writing, funds to be released by the court. To do so, they will need to explain how the money will benefit the claimant.
Contact us today about becoming a litigation friend
We hope this guide has made it clear how the litigation friend process works. If you’d like to discuss your options please call us on 0800 652 1345 today.
Your case will be considered and you’ll be given free legal advice about your options. If your case is accepted, your solicitor will manage the claim on a No Win No Fee basis. That means you won’t need to pay for your solicitors work upfront. As well as managing the claims process, your solicitor will help you to file all of the paperwork that is necessary to become a litigation friend.
Thanks for reading this article that explains the litigation friend process, and if you’d like to know more, please call or connect to an advisor via live chat.