How to claim compensation for a child's accident
Solicitor Chris Middleton talks about how you can claim compensation on behalf of a child who has been injuerd in an accident.
Anyone with children knows that they are involved in minor accidents on a regular basis. Children are curious, sometimes fearless and often unaware of danger. That is part and parcel of being a child and however much you try to provide a safe environment for them to grow up in, minor accidents are to some extent inevitable.
In some cases though, children can suffer injuries through no fault of there own, for example slipping on a wet floor at a nursery, or falling off poorly maintained playground equipment.
If your child is involved in an accident and suffers an injury due to someone’s negligence, you may be able to claim compensation on their behalf.
When your child is at nursery or school, they are owed a large duty of care by the people responsible for ensuring their safety. This means giving them adequate supervision, ensuring equipment is safe and being alert to the fact that children are naturally less aware of danger than adults. If this duty of care is not carried out, for instance if children were not correctly supervised, then the accident may have been preventable and the child may be entitled to compensation.
Whether your child was at school or nursery, injured in a car accident or injured in a public place, you can make a claim for compensation on their behalf if they are under 18 years of age. A few examples of situations in which accident claims can be made on behalf of children are:
- Playground accidents
claims can be made if play equipment such as climbing frames were faulty or too high, or if the ground surface was inadequately padded. Were the children adequately supervised?
- Slipping and tripping
if your child suffered an injury due to a spillage or obstruction and someone can be shown to have been negligent in ensuring their safety, you can make a claim. Their accident could have been at school or in a supermarket or other public place.
- Nursery accidents
claims for nursery accidents often revolve around unsafe equipment or unsuitable supervision.
- Car accidents
- School bus accidents
- Faulty toys or play equipment
Children cannot make accident claims directly; a parent or guardian must act on their behalf. This role is sometimes referred to as a ‘litigation friend’. The rules on child accident claims are also different than those for adults. A claim for an injury sustained as a child can be made up to 3 years after the child’s 18th birthday. This gives the child the opportunity to claim themselves for any injury suffered as a child once they become an adult. It is always advisable to make a claim as early as possible rather than waiting. This is because the incident will be fresh on the memory of those involved and any evidence may still be intact, for example photographs of faulty equipment may be available.
Child accident claims can be complex and should only be handled by a specialist solicitor with detailed knowledge of the law in this area. Choosing the right firm to help you claim compensation is critical.
The vast majority of accident claims today are carried out on a ‘no win – no fee’ basis. This means that you will not have to pay any legal fees and you should receive 100% of your compensation, with no deductions. The solicitor involved assumes the risk if they pursue the claim. If they lose the claim, they don’t get paid, and if the claim is successful the losing party has to pay the solicitors costs in addition to your compensation. It is important to remember that in the majority of cases the person being sued will have insurance and it is the insurance company who will foot the bill for a successful claim.
The value of your claim will depend on a number of factors including:
- The nature of the injury suffered
- Whether the child recovers fully from the injury or whether it has a long term effect on the child’s health, including psychological problems
When claiming compensation the following thing will be taken into account when calculating the amount of compensation to which the child is entitled:
- Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
- Medical and nursing care costs
- Other expenses incurred as a result of the injury, for example, travel expenses incurred whilst receiving medical treatment.
No one intentionally wants a child to suffer, but if someone's neglect has hurt your child, it is important that the cause of the accident is put right and that the liable party is held to account.
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