Children under 18 are not entitled to commence and continue legal claims as they are deemed to be at a legal incapacity.
This means they cannot provide legal instructions. So how do children bring legal claims? A person called a tutor is appointed to provide instructions on the child’s behalf. The tutor’s role is to act as in the place of the child and to act in the best interests of the child.
A tutor is usually a parent or close family member, but it can be anyone willing to act in that position. Besides providing instructions on behalf of the child, the tutor’s role is to be responsible for any costs incurred or costs orders made as part of the proceedings.
In many cases, the true extent of the injury or harm the child has suffered is not known for many years. Court proceedings are often commenced and placed in a holding pattern until the child’s condition stabilises and becomes capable of assessment.
If your child is injured, it is important that you take steps to seek legal advice on their behalf. This is because there are strict time limits which apply to bringing medical negligence claims, even for children. A person has three years from the date upon which they discovered negligence occurred within which to commence court proceedings. The limitation period does not apply to a person under 18 but not while they have a capable parent or guardian. This means that parents have an important role in seeking legal advice on behalf of their children and taking steps to protect their legal interests.
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At Turner Freeman, we have specialist medical negligence lawyers who will assess your case and provide personalised advice regarding your legal entitlements. Our medical negligence lawyers are located across NSW including in our offices in Sydney, Parramatta, Wollongong, Newcastle and Toronto.