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Boy knocked out of pram in Belfast hit-and-run at centre of High Court bid for law change

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The youngster was only 10 weeks old when he sustained a head injury in the incident in 2011

The youngster was only 10 weeks old when he sustained a head injury in the incident in 2011

The youngster was only 10 weeks old when he sustained a head injury in the incident in 2011

A boy knocked out of his pram by a hit-and-run driver is at the centre of a High Court bid to change the law on compensating child victims of untraced motorists in Northern Ireland.

Lawyers for the youngster are challenging the current system where pay-outs are signed off by a parent or guardian without the need for approval by a judge.

They claim the arrangements fail to ensure proper safeguards for the money.

Solicitor Ciaran O'Hare of Belfast firm McIvor Farrell, said: "The reality of the situation is that in many such cases, the child never gets their compensation."

Mr O'Hare's client was only 10 weeks old when he sustained a head injury in a motoring accident in 2011.

His mother was pushing him when a car emerged from a garage on Belfast's Springfield Road and struck the pram, causing the buggy to spill over.

The vehicle then left the scene and the driver could not be traced.

In those circumstances the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) is legally required to step in and act in the same way as an insurance company to deal with an injured person's case.

An offer of compensation was made to the child, with the mother allegedly asked to sign a form agreeing to the terms and conclude the case.

However, in normal situations where a child is injured and an insurance company deals with the claim, an award of compensation has to be approved by a judge.

Any payment is then lodged into a court account for investment at attractive interest rates until the child reaches 18.

According to Mr O'Hare the boy is losing out on the benefit of having a judge look after the case ensuring any compensation is invested safely with the court.

"Protections for children ought to be paramount in the legal system but this long accepted practice of signing- off on the child's compensation without there being any protections whatsoever in place for that child's monies, blatantly flies in the face of that principle," he claimed.

With a challenge set to be heard later this week, the solicitor predicted: "If the court agrees with us, this could change the law for compensation cases involving child victims of untraced drivers in Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph


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