Child injuries are a routine part of growing up. Children get hurt all the time while playing, running or learning how to ride a bike. Most often, the injuries are nobody’s fault, serve as learning experiences for children and do not have severe consequences.
However, if your child has an accident due to the negligence of another party, it can be a devastating event for your entire family. While no amount of money can make up for their pain and suffering, child injury claims are a valuable support for the victims and their families.
Some common circumstances that lead to child injuries include accidents in school, road traffic accidents, dog bites, accidents in public places and medical negligence. A parent, guardian, or another litigation friend is entitled to make a child injury claim on their behalf at any point before their 18th birthday, regardless of when the accident took place.
The compensation covers the financial expenses you incurred after your child’s accident and their personal damages, including pain, suffering and loss of social interactions during recovery. Unlike other personal injury claims, you cannot usually access the compensation award. The money will be transferred into a court bank account and released to the child once they turn 18.
If they believe you have a fair chance to receive compensation, you will likely be able to claim on a no win no fee basis. This enables you to claim without putting yourself at any financial risk. There are no upfront fees, and you only pay your solicitor if they successfully win your compensation claim.
Who can make a child injury claim?
Usually, children are not as careful as adults and do not understand the risks involved in certain situations. That is why schools, businesses, local councils and road users have a duty to take extra care in order to protect their health and safety.
If your child suffered an injury in an accident, the easiest way to find out if you can make a child accident claim is through a free consultation with a legal adviser. Usually, you should be entitled to compensation if:
- Another party, such as a teacher or driver, owed them a duty of care
- They breached their duty by acting negligently and causing an accident
- Your child suffered an injury in the accident
Children under the age of 18 are not considered to have the mental capacity to understand the legal processes. For this reason, a parent or another adult acting as a litigation friend can claim child injury compensation on their behalf.
As long as an adult does not have any conflict of interest with the injured child and can make decisions regarding the claim fairly and competently, they are eligible to be appointed as their litigation friend by the court. Child injury claims could be brought by:
- One of the parents
- A legal guardian
- Another family member or a friend over 18 years old
- A solicitor
- Professional advocates
- Court of Protection deputies
- A social worker
- Any other individual with a lasting power of attorney
If the court cannot appoint a suitable litigation friend, the Official Solicitor will represent the child.
If you take on the role of a litigation friend, you will have several responsibilities, such as:
- Attend court hearings
- Make decisions about the claim
- Deal with correspondence and sign legal documents
- Regularly consult with the solicitor and take their advice
- Pay any fees requested by the court
- Consider the compensation offers you might receive
- Keep updated on the proceedings and give directions to your solicitor
Becoming a litigation friend for a child is a long-time commitment that will come to an end if:
- The child turns 18
- You manage to secure child injury compensation
- If you or someone else have a valid reason to apply for a replacement
Common accidents that result in child injury claims
Children are naturally prone to accidents. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), more than two million children aged 15 or younger end up at A&E each year following an accident at home.
Nonetheless, if your child suffered an injury outside the house due to the negligence of another party, you might want to make a claim. The compensation award could cover the pain and suffering endured by them and your entire family and any related financial losses. Common accidents that lead to child injury claims include:
Road traffic accidents
A child might be injured in a traffic accident while riding the school bus, as a car passenger, pedestrian, or while playing close to a street. According to the Department for Transport, children under 16 are especially vulnerable road users. In 2013, there was an average of one death and 37 severe injuries per week in the UK.
Children involved in a car accident as passengers are always entitled to compensation, regardless of who caused it. This might sometimes involve claiming against the family member driving the car. Due to a conflict of interests, the driver cannot claim child injury compensation on behalf of the victim.
When you leave your child at school or nursery, you expect them to be safe and taken good care of. However, based on Health and Safety Executive statistics, around 30,000 children suffered an injury in a primary or secondary school between 2005 and 2010.
Health and safety issues in schools have caused children to suffer broken bones, severed fingers and even fatal accidents. The leading causes of injuries are wet floors, uneven pavements and faulty equipment. If your child suffered an injury due to lack of supervision or improper maintenance of the school grounds, you might be entitled to make a school accident claim.
Slips, trips and falls
A lack of proper risk assessments, maintenance, or good housekeeping can cause a slip or trip injury just about anywhere. Depending on the accident circumstances, the liable party may be a company, business owner, the local council or a landlord.
Slip and trip injuries may range from minor cuts and scrapes to broken bones, dislocations and even traumatic brain injuries. If the fall is from a considerable height, an accident may even be fatal. If another party failed to follow the health and safety guidelines dictated by relevant laws, you might have a valid child injury claim.
Local councils have a legal duty to maintain all public playgrounds safe and in good working condition. Damaged equipment, poor pavements, missing handrails and sharp surfaces are hazards that could cause mild to severe injuries to children. A child accident claim might be possible if your local council failed to take all reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of your child.
A playground accident claim could also be made against private companies, such as holiday parks, soft play centres and other playground operators.
Accidents involving toys affect hundreds of children every year. If the accident was due to an error made by the manufacturing company, they might be eligible to pay you child injury compensation. Whether there was an issue with the production or the toy was incorrectly marketed for your child’s age group, an experienced solicitor might be able to secure the compensation you deserve for your child’s injuries.
Medical negligence and childbirth injuries
Although the UK has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, doctors can occasionally make mistakes or act negligently, causing avoidable injuries to children. One of the most common birth injuries to the baby is cerebral palsy, which affects approximately 1,800 children every year.
Exerting too much force during delivery can cause bone fractures and irreversible nerve or brain damage. Medical negligence can also occur later in life if a healthcare professional fails to diagnose or treat your child’s symptoms, causing them unnecessary pain and suffering. If you believe your child received substandard care, you might be eligible to make a child injury claim against the NHS or private healthcare provider.
You could claim child injury compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) on behalf of a child who suffered because of a violent crime such as physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence or a terrorist attack.
Many children love dogs and other animals and are eager to play with them. Unfortunately, not all dog owners keep them under control or take all reasonable measures to keep children away from dangerous or unpredictable dogs.
A dog attack can be very traumatic, cause severe physical and psychological scarring, and even be fatal. In most cases, the responsibility for a dog bite remains with the owner, who might be liable to pay child injury compensation.
If you want to make a child accident claim on behalf of a minor who suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, you should contact a personal injury solicitor. They can let you know if you have a valid claim and answer any questions you may have. For a free consultation, call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.
How much compensation can I claim for my child’s injuries?
There are many unfortunate situations in which a child could suffer an injury due to the negligent behaviour of another person or company. If you have enough evidence that somebody else was responsible for their accident, you could make a child injury claim.
Usually, the compensation award does not only cover the financial losses and expenses but also personal losses, including compensation for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological scarring
- Physical scarring
- Physical and mental disability
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of social interactions
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Impaired development
- Inability to pursue a hobby they enjoyed
It is difficult to calculate a suitable compensation award for general, non-pecuniary damages such as pain and suffering. Courts and solicitors refer to the guidelines published by the Judicial College as a starting point when calculating child injury compensation. According to the guidelines, you could get:
- £9,000 – £130,000 for epilepsy caused by a traumatic accident
- £1,900 – £11,000 for a minor brain injury with recovery within a few weeks
- £190,000 – £245,000 for moderately severe brain damage causing a physical or mental disability
- £1,760 – £3,150 for a mild and temporary eye injury
- £43,500 – £52,500 for loss of sight in one eye
- £1,760 – £3,150 for loss or damage to the child’s front teeth
- Up to £30,400 for chronic tooth pain and deterioration
- £5,630 – £16,380 for a simple arm fracture with no long-term complications
- £76,700 – £104,350 for an arm injury causing severe mobility issues
- Up to £9,440 for a straightforward leg fracture that causes no complications
- £21,100 – £108,400 for leg injuries leading to permanent mobility issues and chronic pain
- £83,500 – £110,000 for amputation of a leg above the knee
In addition to general damages, a child injury claim includes any related financial losses you can account for, also known as special damages. This could include:
- Medical treatments not available through the NHS
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Costs of medication and hospitalisation
- Psychological counselling
- Home tutors, if the child cannot return to school for a while
- Lost wages, if you had to take time off work to care for your child
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle to accommodate the child’s disability
- Mobility or hearing aids and prostheses
- Travel costs to and from the hospital
- Costs of accommodation to be near your child while they were hospitalised
Your solicitor will consider all the ways in which the accident caused a personal loss to your child and all the financial expenses you incurred to calculate a suitable compensation award. To find out more about your compensation prospects, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser.
What will happen to my child’s compensation award?
In personal injury claims where the victim is an adult, they have immediate access to the compensation if their case is successful. Their solicitor will usually negotiate a settlement with the defendant’s insurer without the need to go to court.
However, all child injury claims must go through an Infant Approval Hearing before a judge. They will consider all the available evidence and decide if the child received a fair compensation award for their injuries. Children may sometimes be asked to attend the hearing, depending on their age and the severity of their injuries.
Although a parent or another litigation friend can claim child injury compensation, they do not have access to the compensation award. Instead, the court will hold the money in a court bank account where it will gain interest until the child turns 18.
At this point, they will directly receive their settlement plus the extra interest. Occasionally, if the compensation is not significant and all parties agree to it, the compensation award could be released to the parents or a legal guardian.
It is also possible to get an early release of some of the money if this will benefit the child. The court will usually approve such a request only to cover medical or educational expenses that the family cannot otherwise afford.
Your solicitor could also help you set up a personal injury trust for your child. Setting up a trust means that your child’s compensation will not be taken into account for means tested state benefits. Their compensation award will therefore be ring-fenced, even into adulthood.
The trust provides protection, flexibility and guidance, and can be especially helpful for children that may remain vulnerable after turning 18.
What is the time limit for making a child accident claim?
Usually, the time limit to bring a personal injury claim is three years after the date of an accident or becoming aware of an injury. If the victim of somebody else’s negligence is a child, the three-year countdown gets suspended until they turn 18 years old.
A litigation friend can make a child injury claim anytime while the victim is still a legal minor, regardless of when the accident happened.
After turning 18, an individual is considered to have the mental capacity to understand and conduct their own legal proceedings. An individual who suffered an injury as a child usually has until their 21st birthday to claim compensation.
There are, nonetheless, several exceptions to the three-year limitation period:
- The time limit to make a criminal injury claim through the CICA is usually two years after an incident. If the crime was reported to the police, the victim has until their 20th birthday to make a compensation claim. Otherwise, they can make a claim within two years after reporting the abuse to the authorities.
- If a child suffered a fatal injury, a family member could make a child accident claim within three years after their passing away.
- If the accident happened abroad, the time limit to start a child injury claim could vary significantly between countries. To not lose the chance to claim, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible if your child had a holiday accident.
Regardless of how much time you might have to claim, it is always advisable to contact a professional solicitor as soon as possible. This will make gathering evidence and building the case much more straightforward. Some of the evidence you could provide to support your child injury claim includes:
- Medical records of their injuries, the treatments received and their recovery prospects
- Photographs of the accident scene, before anything gets moved or repaired
- Pictures of the child’s injuries and their recovery process
- Contact details of anyone else involved in the accident and of any witnesses
- An accident report, if the child was hurt in a shop, restaurant, supermarket accident, school or another business that must keep an accident log book
- CCTV or dash cam footage of the accident, trying to secure a copy before it gets deleted
- Evidence of any financial expenses or losses you incurred because of your child’s accident
Can child injury compensation claims be made using no win no fee?
Seeing your child suffering because of another person’s negligence is probably one the most devastating things for a parent. While worrying about their health and wellbeing, claiming compensation may not be at the forefront of your mind.
However, the costs incurred to take care of your child may amount to a substantial sum. A successful child accident claim can give you the financial security you need so you can focus on your child’s recovery. You might, nevertheless, worry about the high costs of claiming and hiring a professional solicitor.
Fortunately, most child injury claims can be made using a no win no fee service (also called a conditional fee agreement). If your solicitor believes you have a valid claim with a fair chance of success, they will take on your case without asking for any upfront fees. Furthermore, if you ultimately lose the claim, you do not have to pay them anything.
No win no fee claims involve taking out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy. This provides full financial coverage if you lose the claim, so you do not have to cover any legal costs incurred by you or the defendant.
As part of your conditional fee agreement, your solicitor will offer support and advice at every step of the claims process. They will also arrange a free medical visit with an independent physician to assess the full extent and any long-term effects of your child’s injuries. Their medical report will serve as essential evidence in your claim.
In a no win no fee claim, you only have to pay anything if your claim is successful and you receive child injury compensation. This is called the success fee, which compensates your solicitor for the time and effort they put into winning the claim. The success fee cannot exceed 25% of your compensation award and will be thoroughly discussed and explained to you before taking on your case.
To find out if you can make a no win no fee child injury claim, call 0800 678 1410 for a free consultation with a legal adviser. Alternatively, you can fill out our online claim form to receive a call back.