Child Accident Claims
If your child suffered an injury due to negligence, it could be devastating to your entire family. If someone else was liable for the accident, you might want to claim compensation for all the pain and suffering you and your child endured.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, accidents involving children are significantly under-reported. Even so, 490,000 children under five are admitted yearly to A&E and emergency hospitals in England because of accidents at home. Of these, around 60 accidents are fatal.
There are an estimated two million accidents involving children 15 and younger every year across the UK. Childhood injuries tend to go hand in hand with the family’s social background. Children from poorer backgrounds have 45% higher hospital admission rates. Furthermore, they are five times more likely to die because of an accident than children from wealthier families.
Between 2005 and 2010, around 30,000 children suffered an injury in primary and secondary schools, mainly caused by a slip, trip or fall.
Children under 16 are especially vulnerable to road traffic accidents; in 2013, there was an average of 1 death and 37 seriously injured children per week in the UK.
These statistics are alarming, and most accidents could be prevented by following the appropriate health and safety legislation. If another party’s negligence contributed to your child’s injury, you might be able to start a child accident compensation claim.
What is a child accident claim?
If your child suffered an injury due to somebody else’s negligence, you might be entitled to claim child accident compensation. No compensation can make up for the trauma you and your child endured, but it can cover their treatment and rehabilitation and provide future financial support.
Child accident claims can be made by a suitable litigation friend if:
- another party owed them a duty of care
- the responsible party breached that duty of care
- your child suffered an injury as a result
If you have valid grounds to make a child injury claim, a solicitor will consider the accident circumstances to identify the liable party and assess a suitable compensation amount. They will take into consideration:
- the treatment and support you and your child might need
- the time you or other family members spent taking care of the child
- any expenses and financial losses you suffered as a result
- any adaptations to your home or vehicle
- how the accident might have affected your child’s future
The best way to start a child accident claim is by contacting a solicitor and reaching a conditional fee agreement. This way, you will get the support and advice you need to win your case without running any financial risks.
If you receive compensation for your child’s injuries, the money will be kept in a court bank account until they turn 18, but you can petition for early release if you can prove it is in your child’s best interests.
To start your claim, speak to a trained legal adviser by calling 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation.
Who can make a personal injury claim on behalf of a child?
UK law states that a child cannot make an accident claim in their name due to lacking the legal capacity to understand the claiming process. A litigation friend will need to be appointed by a court to represent them in a child injury claim.
In common law, a litigation friend is a person who can fairly conduct proceedings on behalf of a child in personal injury claims. Before the appointment, the court will check suitability by making sure that the litigation friend:
- can take decisions regarding the claim in a fair and competent way
- doesn’t have any conflict of interest with the child
A litigation friend needs to be at least 18 years of age and could be one of the following:
- a parent or legal guardian
- a close family member or friend
- a solicitor
- a professional advocate
- a social worker
- a deputy or someone who has a lasting power of attorney
If no suitable litigation friend can be appointed, the Official Solicitor will act on behalf of the child.
A child’s litigation friend can be replaced during the claim, if:
- they are not acting in the child’s best interest
- they are no longer able to represent the child
- they have passed away
The litigation friend can claim compensation on behalf of a child at any time before they turn 18. After turning 18, the victim has another three years, until their 21st birthday, to make a child accident claim in their name.
If you want to claim child injury compensation, an experienced solicitor can help you begin the legal proceedings. Call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back for a free consultation with a legal advisor.
What are the main types of accidents involving children?
According to government statistics, most of the injuries suffered by children go unreported. The majority of children injury claims involve road traffic accidents, but there are many other ways in which a child can suffer an injury:
Road traffic accidents
Children can be injured in a traffic accident as passengers in a vehicle, while riding the school bus, crossing the road, or playing in the street.
A report released by the Department for Transport states that in 2019 there were 39 child deaths, a decrease from 48 fatalities in 2018. Most of the victims were pedestrians, often hit by a vehicle on their way home from school.
Every child is entitled to receive compensation if they sustained injuries as passengers in a vehicle, regardless of liability disputes. This might sometimes involve claiming against a family member, which could be awkward. Nonetheless, keep in mind that car insurance should cover such accidents.
Slips, trips and falls
A slip, trip and fall could happen anywhere: at school, on the street, in a shop, at the play centre, in a restaurant and any other public domain. According to the Health and Safety Executive, most slips and trips can be prevented if business and local authorities respect the safety regulations dictated by the law.
If your child suffered an injury at a school or nursery, it is imperative to determine if the accident was due to negligence. Improper safety managements in schools are of growing concern. Children have suffered broken bones, severed fingers and even fatal accidents due to health and safety issues within school grounds.
Wet floors, poorly maintained areas, or faulty equipment are the primary causes of injuries at school. Schools and nurseries have a duty of care towards your child, and they should be held liable if an accident occurs due to lack of supervision, maintenance or risk assessment.
You can make a child accident claim against the local authorities if your child suffers an injury at a public playground. Faulty pavements, damaged equipment, missing handrails or poor lighting are some hazards that could lead to an injury and entitle you to claim for compensation.
Dog attacks can be very traumatic, especially for young children. Besides physical injuries and scarring, children often experience severe emotional trauma. If a dog bit your child, you could make a child injury claim on their behalf. The responsibility remains with the dog owner.
Medical negligence and childbirth injuries
Although the UK has one of the best healthcare systems worldwide, medical mistakes can still occur, resulting in avoidable injuries or illnesses to children. Some catastrophic mistakes during childbirth can affect the child’s life forever. For example, exerting too much force to pull the baby during labour may cause broken bones or irreversible nerve and brain damage.
Accidents involving toys
Hundreds of children suffer an injury due to a defective toy every year. Often, there is an issue with the product production, or it was incorrectly marketed to an unsuitable age group. If your child suffered a toy-related injury, you might be able to claim against the manufacturer.
What is the time limit for making an accident claim for a child?
Usually, the victim of a personal injury has three years from the day of the accident to start making a claim. When the victim is a child, the three-year countdown begins on their 18th birthday, if nobody claimed on their behalf before that point.
A litigation friend can normally start legal proceedings to claim child injury compensation at any point before the victim turns 18.
The limitation date to start a claim in the case of violent assaults is two years. In this case, the two-year countdown will not be suspended until the child turns 18. It is the responsibility of their parents or another suitable adult to make a child injury claim within the two year period.
In the unfortunate case of a fatal accident, a close relative can claim child accident compensation within three years of the date of their death.
If the child suffered an injury abroad, the limitation period for starting a claim might be subject to that country’s laws.
The three-year countdown does not start on a child’s 18th birthday if they have been severely injured and are not physically or mentally able to make a claim themselves. The same rule applies if they suffer from a pre-existing condition.
The best way to determine how long you have to make a claim is to contact a personal injury solicitor. They will advise you on the correct rules that apply to your case and ensure that the relevant limitation period has not already lapsed.
How much compensation is a child accident claim worth?
There are many unfortunate situations in which a child might get hurt. Accidents in or around the house, school or road traffic accidents are some of the most common. Injuries can vary from minor to the most severe, leaving the victim permanently scarred or disabled.
Aside from the physical injuries, a child can easily get psychologically scarred by a traumatic accident. Emotional trauma is hard to overcome both by children and their parents. If somebody else was liable for the accident, you deserve compensation for what you and your child have been through.
Parents and other litigation friends are entitled to make child accident claims for any injuries the child has suffered. The compensation will cover not only financial expenses but also subjective losses.
Usually, you are entitled to claim compensation for:
Special damages include financial losses that can be summed up mathematically like:
- medical expenses such as medication, private hospitalisation or surgery
- costs of rehabilitation and physiotherapy
- cost of psychological support
- lost earnings, if you had to take time off work to take care of your child
- costs of adapting your home or car
- home tutors, if the child had to take time off school
General damages include non-pecuniary physical and psychological changes like:
- pain and suffering
- scarring and disability
- emotional distress
- changes in the quality of life
- inability to pursue a hobby
- loss of social interactions
- loss of enjoyment
- impaired development
The compensation amount for general damages depends on the extent of the injuries suffered by the child and how they interfered with their life.
The Judicial College sets the guidelines for general damages. These are used as a starting point by solicitors when calculating compensation. Based on their guidelines, a child injury compensation award could be:
- £14,340 – £22,200 for leg injuries with permanent damage
- £78,100 – £106,000 for leg amputation below the knee
- £31,200 – £47,750 for a severe arm injury with permanent disablement
- £3,710 – £122,860 for a hip or pelvis injury
- up to £214,000 for total blindness in both eyes
- £37,000 – £190,000 for moderate brain damage
- £38,800 – £139,210 for a severe neck injury
- £245,000 – £350,000 for severe brain damage leading to permanent disability
If you want to get an estimation of your child accident compensation prospects, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal advisor. You can also enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.
What will happen if my child is awarded compensation?
In personal injury claims involving adults, you will negotiate a compensation award with the defendant. If they admit liability and agree with your request, the case will be settled out of court.
Children, on the other hand, are protected parties. Therefore, all child injury claims need to go through an Infant Approval Hearing in court.
A Judge will consider the available evidence and decide if the offered compensation amount is fair. Depending on the age and severity of their injuries, children might need to attend these hearings.
Although parents may claim on their child’s behalf, they cannot access the compensation awarded. Instead, the money will be transferred into a court bank account where it will gain interest until the victim turns 18.
There are several ways to invest the awarded compensation: a child trust fund, an individual savings account, or the court funds office. If you prefer one over the other, your solicitor can make a request to the court so a Judge will evaluate it during the hearing.
Parents and children can petition the court to release some of the money early, but this is usually approved only to cover medical or education costs that the family can’t finance otherwise.
When the child turns 18, any compensation held in court funds will be released by cheque, so make sure your child’s current address is available to the court.
What evidence will I need to make a child injury claim?
Even if a defendant admits liability for your child’s injury at the time of the accident, you should always make sure to collect all the possible evidence to support your claim. Even if they don’t deny it later, their insurance company will likely fight your claim.
Child accident claims need to be supported with evidence like:
- Photos capturing the accident scene right after it happened, ideally showing what caused the accident.
- Witnesses; you should get the name and contact address of anyone who saw what happened and might be willing to testify on your child’s behalf.
- Accident reports; make sure to report the accident if it took place in a shop, school, workplace or other business that is required to keep an accident report book. Make sure the manager signs the report and ask for a copy.
- Pictures of your child’s injuries after the accident and taken regularly during the recovery process.
- Medical reports. Make sure you will be able to prove what injures your child sustained in the accident by visiting a medical professional for assessment. This will also serve as proof when claiming for lost amenities like the inability to pursue a hobby or play games with their friends.
- CCTV footage. When available, make sure to get a copy of the CCTV or dashcam footage as soon as possible before it gets deleted.
- Keep track of all the expenses and lost earnings you incurred because of your child’s accident.
- Additionally, when claiming for loss of amenity, you might be required to provide evidence regarding the child’s lifestyle before the accident. This can be in the form of photos of hobbies and activities they engaged in or statements from teachers, friends or family.
Having strong evidence is an essential element for winning child accident claims. Your solicitor will evaluate your case in detail, assisting you with gathering proof and speaking with witnesses and healthcare professionals.
Can a child accident claim be made on a no win no fee basis?
Having your child injured in an accident is one of the most distressful things that can happen to a parent. Aside from worrying about their health and well-being, you might be concerned about the costs of providing the best medical assistance.
If you think that someone else is liable for your child’s injuries, you might want to make a child accident claim against them. But the costs of hiring a professional solicitor and paying all the legal fees might be off-putting, especially when you don’t have the certainty you’ll win the claim.
Fortunately, child accident claims can be funded by reaching a no win no fee arrangement with your solicitor. If they decide you have a valid claim with fair chances of success, they will work on a conditional fee agreement, meaning:
They will take out After the Event (ATE) insurance on your behalf. If your claim fails, the defendant’s legal fees will be covered by the ATE insurance, and you won’t have to pay a penny.
They will take care of all the paperwork and will assist you with collecting evidence and getting witness statements.
Your solicitor will arrange a free medical visit with a registered physician who will determine the extent of your child’s injuries and give you a recovery prognosis. The medical certificate you will receive serves as essential evidence in your child’s accident claim.
As part of your agreement, your solicitor will provide free advice and support you throughout all the steps of claiming. Moreover, they work with other institutions to provide you with the best financial advice and medical treatments that are not always available through the National Health Service.
If you win the claim, the following deductions will be made from your compensation:
- a success fee for winning the claim that you previously agreed upon with your solicitor; this can be up to 25% of the compensation settlement
- the defendant will usually cover your legal fees and expenses, but you might need to cover any shortfalls
- if you took legal protection insurance, you might have to cover the cost of the premium
Only after receiving your compensation will the above deductions be made; there are no upfront or hidden charges. The best thing about a no win no fee agreement is that it is risk-free, and you won’t be charged at all if you lose the claim.
If you are thinking about making a no win no fee child accident claim, you can contact a legal advisor by calling free on 0800 678 1410. Alternatively, leave your details, and you will receive a call back shortly.