How to make an injury compensation claim for children
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As all parents will know, children have accidents all the time and regularly come back from playing out/school/play dates with minor cuts and bruises. Most of the time this is just the result of kids being kids, and even more serious injuries can be put down to no-fault accidents that ‘just happen’.
However, it’s also not uncommon for children to suffer injuries due to the negligence of someone else. This negligence could be in the form of inadequate safety measures or driving without due care and attention, for example. If your child has been injured after an accident that was caused by the negligence of someone else then you may be entitled to make a child injury compensation claim.
As a parent it is only natural that you want to do everything you can to help your child’s pain and suffering and get them the treatment they need following an accident. As professional and experienced personal injury solicitors we can help you get the full compensation you and your family deserve.
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If your child suffers an injury at school or while on a school trip, in a public place, on the road or even at home then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. If the accident, and subsequent injury, can be shown to be the fault of someone else’s negligence – whether that’s an individual or an organisation (school, hospital, council etc…).
Any financial compensation you receive can therefore be used to pay for any rehabilitation or medical treatment your child requires, as well as recompensing them for the pain and suffering caused by the injury. Compensation can also be used to help them catch up with their school work if they were forced to miss a lot of school.
There may also be losses on your side as well, particularly loss of earnings if you had to take time off work to look after your child after the accident.
Making a child injury compensation claim…
Usually with personal injury claims there is a strict time limit of three years for the victim to make their claim. This time limit starts from the date of the accident that caused the injury, or in more longer term cases like asbestos it’s three years from when the victim first realised their condition was as the result of negligence.
When it comes to children being injured though, the rules surrounding the time limit are different. After all, a child is not able to make their own compensation claim so the three year limit wouldn’t come into effect until they are 18 years old (and legally old enough to make a claim). However, a parent or legal guardian is able to pursue a claim on behalf of the child before their 18th birthday in their role as a ‘litigation friend’.
This role covers lots of different scenarios whereby an individual may be unable to pursue a claim for compensation themselves. In the case of children it usually means a close relative or guardian can take up the claim on their behalf in order to secure the compensation they are entitled to and, in many cases, in desperate need of i.e. to pay for treatment, rehabilitation and so on. In many serious cases e.g. birth injury and medical negligence claims, the sooner the claim process begins the better, so it’s important that a parent has the option to pursue a claim for compensation.
Who to claim against if your child is injured at school…
As children spend a lot of their time at school, it’s naturally the place where a lot of accidents and injuries occur. We’ve all taken a tumble on the playground or took a bit of a whack during PE during our school days, after all.
However, sometimes an injury at school is due to more than just kids ‘hi-jinks’ and could be the result of a serious failing on behalf of the school or the local education authority. With the various different operational models being used by schools nowadays – e.g. many are now academies – it’s not always immediately obvious who would be the negligent party should an accident happen on school premises.
The relevant health and safety legislation dictates that the employer is ultimately responsible for any injury to staff members, pupils or visitors in a school, which could be broken down into the following groups:
- The Local Authority – Responsible for community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled schools, maintained nursery schools, pupil referral units
- The Governing Body – Responsible for foundation schools, foundation special schools, voluntary aided schools
- The Proprietor – Responsible for independent schools
- The Head Teacher and Governors – Responsible for independent academies
Children’s Act 1989 and ‘in loco parentis’
The Children Act 1989 is an important piece of legislation when it comes to determining negligence in terms of how a third party has treated your child, who is subsequently injured. The ‘third party’ could be anyone who interacts or looks after your child for any period of time such as a teacher, child minder, nursery nurse, dentist who is deemed to have accepted a duty of care towards your child.
As part of the Children Act, the third party carer should adopt what is known as ‘in loco parentis’, which basically means they should behave in the same manner towards any child in their care as if they were a ‘reasonable parent’. In other words, they should act with the same level of responsibility and care as could reasonably be expected of any parent. This can, of course, lead to some dispute when it comes to defining what constitutes ‘reasonable’ behaviour – but it is usually obvious when this behaviour has been lacking.
Child injuries in public places
While the Children’s Act 1989 deals with any injuries that occur while your child is in the care of a recognised ‘care giver’, it doesn’t provide much guidance when it comes to your child having an accident and sustaining an injury in a public place such as a shop, museum, bus/train station, cafe etc…
In these cases then a combination of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 state the duty of care the people and organisations responsible for the public places have to ensure they provide a safe environment. If these responsibilities have not been met to a reasonable standard, which has led to your child being injured, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
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