Local authorities and academies have a duty of care to protect children and staff whilst at school. While all schools will have safety procedures in place, accidents can and do still happen. If the accident could’ve been avoided had the school acted differently, you may be eligible to make a school accident claim for compensation for any suffering you or your child has endured.
In this guide to school accident claims, we’ll look at the types of accidents that could happen in a school, how parents can make a personal injury claim on behalf of a child injured at school, and what amount of compensation could be paid for a range of different injuries. Importantly, claims may be possible for injuries on school property (buildings, school playgrounds etc) as well as those sustained on school trips or excursions.
To find out more about claiming for an accident in a school, please read the rest of this guide. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss your options with us right away, please call 0800 6524 881 for a free consultation.
Table of contents
- Am I Eligible To Make A School Accident Claim?
- Common Causes Of School Accident Claims
- Common Injuries Suffered By School Children
- How Much Compensation For A Child Injured At School Could I Claim?
- Claiming Compensation On Behalf Of A Child
- Evidence To Prove How Your Child Was Injured At School
- How Long Does Making A School Accident Claim Take?
- What Happens If The School Or Local Authority Disputes My Claim?
- Starting The School Accident Claims Process
Not every accident in a school will mean compensation should be paid. So to determine whether there is a case to be answered and you’re eligible to begin a school accident claim, your advisor will want to determine whether:
- The school breached their legal duty of care; and as a result
- An accident occurred; and
- You or your child was injured and the school was responsible.
Importantly, it would be impossible for a school to be completely free from any risks. However, they do need to take steps to prevent accidents and injuries at school where possible. This can be achieved by performing regular risk assessments. Something else that’s worth noting is that children can be less aware of risks than adults might be in the same situation. Therefore, the law requires schools to implement stronger health and safety procedures to help keep children as safe as possible.
It would be impossible to list every accident in a school that could cause a pupil to be injured. Again, though, you can’t claim against a school in all circumstances. There must be some form of negligence that led to an accident for claims against schools to be possible.
Some examples of common school accidents include –
Accidents on the school playground are the most common cause of injuries that children suffer while at school, however, not all of these injuries can be attributed to the school’s negligence. If your child was injured in an accidental fall while playing with friends that would typically be considered a genuine accident, with no one in particular at fault. However, if the injury was caused because of faulty or ill-maintained playground equipment or fixtures that do not have any safety measures in place, those are likely to be solid grounds to file an accident claim against the school for negligence.
Allowing children to use playground equipment that is not appropriate for their age could also be considered as negligence.
Regular maintenance of equipment is paramount in a school environment. Furniture that is wobbly, frayed, or has sharp edges are all potential causes of accidents in school. If your child was cut by a frayed or sharp edge of a desk or injured by a broken chair, it could constitute negligence on part of the school, and you may be able to file a school accident claim for compensation.
Laboratories are another common setting for accidents among older children. You may be eligible to file a claim if your child was allowed to use laboratory equipment or chemicals that were not appropriate for their age. Allowing students to use the laboratory unsupervised is also a breach of a school’s legal duty of care.
You may also be able to claim compensation if your child was injured in a slip trip and fall accident caused due to a broken path that had been left unsafe to use, wet flooring, slippery staircase, or slippery bathroom or changing room tiles.
Students who participate in fast-paced sports such as basketball and football are more prone to suffering from more serious injuries. While the risks inherent in sporting activities cannot be eliminated completely, schools can take proper precautions to minimise these risks by having qualified coaches, providing proper training to players and also providing players with the appropriate protective equipment. Failure to do any of these could be considered negligence.
Did your child fall ill after eating lunch in the school canteen? Food that is undercooked or is not properly stored are the most common causes of food poisoning. Usually, in the case of poorly prepared food, several children will get ill. However, even if your child was the only one to fall ill after eating the school food, you should explore the possibility of filing a school accident claim if the doctor diagnoses it as food poisoning.
Children tend to be more boisterous and adventurous on school trips. Schools must anticipate this and make sure there are enough responsible adults accompanying the children on any school trip. In the case of an accident that happens on a school trip, a lot of factors can go into determining fault.
If your child has been injured on a school bus and the accident was caused by somebody else’s negligence, such as a negligent bus driver, the bus company, or another motorist, you may be able to claim compensation on your child’s behalf as their litigation friend.
This list isn’t conclusive but it’s designed to give you some idea about why school accident claims might be possible. Please call our specialists if you’d like to discuss your options.
The amount of compensation your child could receive will be based on the severity of their injuries. In the list below, we’ve listed some common injuries at school that could lead to a personal injury claim:
- Head injuries to children such as a concussion.
- Broken or fractured bones.
- Strains, sprains and soft tissue injuries.
- Cuts, bruises and lacerations.
Please get in touch if your child has suffered an injury at school which you believe entitles them to compensation.
As every accident and injury to children will vary, so will the amount of compensation that could be claimed. When you make your claim, your solicitor will discuss the accident and severity of the injuries and how you and your child have been affected. Then they will split the claim into two separate parts when calculating how much compensation should be paid:
- The first part, general damages, looks at the pain and suffering your child endured due to their injuries. It also covers the loss of amenity. A simple example here is where a value is placed on the fact that your child cannot communicate with their friends via social media because they fractured their wrist in a fall.
- Special damages could be claimed if any costs have arisen from your child’s injuries. These could include travel costs, lost earnings and future losses, and the cost of replacing personal property damaged during the accident.
You can refer to this page for more detail on these damages if you wish to do so.
Importantly, the value of any claim can differ due to various factors. Once your child’s injuries have been properly assessed during the claims process, your solicitor should be able to provide a more accurate compensation estimate.
As you might be aware, a child cannot represent themselves in legal proceedings. Therefore, if a compensation claim for a child injured at school is to be made, a parent or guardian could represent them.
To do this, they’ll need to become a litigation friend. This isn’t something you need to worry about. It simply means you’ll need to discuss the claim with a solicitor on behalf of your child and make decisions that are in your child’s best interests. Our solicitors are able to help you become a litigation friend and represent your child during the claims process.
Where a successful school accident claim is made, a court will review that the settlement level is fair and manage the funds in a court account until the child is 18. Money can be drawn down from the account if you explain to the court how the child will benefit.
Importantly, claims for child injuries don’t have a time limit until they turn 18. You can make the claim at any point before their 18th birthday, if not they’ll have up to 3 years from their 18th birthday to do so themselves. If an adult is injured in a school accident, though, they will have up to 3-years to claim.
Do bear in mind that 3 years may seem a good amount of time but your solicitor will use some of this building the case, therefore it’s advisable to start a school accident claim as soon as possible.
With any type of personal injury claim for an injured child, you are going to need evidence to establish what happened, who was responsible for the accident, and what injuries were sustained. Therefore, we’ve listed some examples of the evidence that could be used to support a school accident claim below:
- Accident report forms. Legally, schools need to have an accident report book. Any accident should then be recorded and provide details of who was injured, when the accident happened, and what injuries were sustained. Your copy of this form would make it hard for the school’s insurers to deny the accident took place.
- Medical notes. It is important that any injury to a child is assessed by a medical professional. If you do decide to claim, medical notes from your doctor or hospital could be used as evidence to prove the extent of your child’s injuries.
- Photos. If you’re able to, it is a good idea to take a picture of the accident scene.
- Witness details. You should ask the school (or your child) who else was present when the accident happened. That’s because a solicitor may ask them for a statement if the school’s version of events is different to yours.
- CCTV evidence. If the accident happened in a part of the school that was covered by security cameras, you could request a copy of the footage. This should be requested quickly as some recordings aren’t kept for long.
If you have collected evidence already and would like our claims advisors to check over it, or need advice or help in obtaining evidence, please get in touch.
The process of claiming compensation for an accident at school can vary, usually depending on several factors such as the complexity of the case, what evidence is required and the ease of obtaining it, and the willingness to admit liability. Generally, a straightforward claim may take several months whereas more complex cases can take more than a year for the claim to be settled.
It’s important to keep in mind that each school accident claim is unique so we’d advise consulting with a personal injury solicitor who can give you a better idea of the time frame for your specific case.
Should the school or the local authority dispute your claim, it typically means that they don’t believe they are liable for the accident or that the injuries and compensation you are claiming are not a result of the accident. In these cases, the process of resolving the claim may become more complex and may need additional evidence, investigation and negotiations.
If the dispute cannot be amicably resolved through negotiation, the school accident claim may proceed to court, where a judge will determine liability and the amount of compensation to be awarded if successful.
We believe the chances of winning a fair amount of compensation for your child’s injuries will increase if you have a personal injury solicitor working on your case. If your case is accepted, your solicitor will work tirelessly to try and secure the maximum level of compensation for your child.
Throughout the school accident claims process, you will receive advice, support, and regular updates. If a compensation offer is sent by the school’s insurers, it will be discussed with you to assess whether you feel it is sufficient. Where needed, your solicitor will aim to supply extra supporting evidence if possible to try and negotiate a higher settlement amount.
If you are interested in becoming a litigation friend to claim on your child’s behalf, please call us on 0800 6524 881. We could arrange for a solicitor to start working on your school accident claim right away.