Schools should be safe places for pupils, teachers, staff and visitors. In fact, as with any other organisation, schools have a legal obligation to try and keep their premises and activities as safe as possible. However, if a school has been negligent and you or your child has been injured as a result, you may be able to claim compensation by filing a school accident claim against them.
This article explains the process of claiming compensation for an accident in school and will show examples of accidents, injuries and negligence that you could be compensated for.
Please continue reading to learn more about making a claim for an accident in a school. If you’d rather speak with us straight away, please call 0800 652 1345t today.
Can I claim compensation for an accident at school?
The criteria our personal injury lawyers will usually check before accepting a school accident claim are:
- Did the school owe the claimant a duty of care; and
- Did the school’s negligence lead to an accident; and
- Did the claimant sustain an injury or become ill as a result?
These criteria apply to all types of accident claims against a school. That’s because they’ll owe a legal duty of care to staff, pupils and visitors. Legally, this is established by legislation such as the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 or the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Which law is relevant in your case is not something to worry about at this stage as this will be verified for you during your free consultation.
Who is responsible for my child’s safety at school?
While your child is at school, they should be supervised by staff. This includes before school and after school if your child remains on the school premises. How much they’ll need to be supervised should be determined by the activity and the child’s age. This duty of care is set out in section 175 of the Education Act 2002.
Generally, a personal injury claim will be made against the local authority for state school claims or the business that runs a private school rather than any individual.
What could I claim compensation against a school for?
There are many reasons why personal injury claims are made following an accident in a school. Importantly, the school’s duty of care also applies to activities led by the school that happen away from school. You must remember though that for your claim to be taken on, the school must’ve been responsible for the incident in some way.
Here are some examples of accidents and illnesses to children or adults that may lead to a compensation claim against the school if they have been negligent:
- Playground accidents.
- Accidents on school buses.
- Slips, trips and falls.
- Accidents caused by dangerous equipment.
- Food poisoning.
- Allergic reactions.
- Illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos in older school buildings.
It is possible to sue a school for almost any type of injury caused by the school’s negligence. This means claims might be possible for broken bones, burns, serious head injuries, back injuries and soft tissue injuries including sprains, strains and muscle tears.
Again, these claims are not limited to pupils within the school. Our personal injury lawyers could help staff, parents and visitors to make a claim if they were injured in an accident in a school.
Examples of negligence that could lead to a school accident claim
Let’s look at some examples of when negligence by a school could lead to a compensation claim. They include:
- If a child is hurt from a climbing frame in the school playground that was damaged or poorly maintained.
- Where a child suffers an allergic reaction after being given food containing an allergen that staff were aware of.
- If a parent falls from a damaged chair at sports day and hurts their back.
- Where a teacher trips on a cable trailed across the school hall and sprains their wrist.
- If a child cuts themselves at primary school on a damaged piece of the school’s fence.
- If a child is injured by dangerous sports equipment and was unsupervised.
- Where a child is injured at secondary school in a swimming pool accident because of an insufficient number of staff present.
If you or your child would like to discuss a school accident compensation claim, please get in touch even if the accident is not described above.
Making a school accident claim on behalf of your child
If an adult is injured in a school, they can usually take legal action themselves if they wish to claim compensation. However, children (those under 18 years old) are not allowed to represent themselves legally.
That doesn’t stop them from being compensated for their suffering though. Instead, a responsible adult such as a parent or guardian can become their litigation friend and represent them throughout the school accident claims process.
Our solicitors can help with the paperwork to set you up as a litigation friend and, once you’re approved, the claim will proceed in the normal fashion. As your child’s representative, you’ll make decisions on their behalf and communicate with the solicitor for them.
If the claim is successful, a court will need to confirm that the settlement covers all of the child’s suffering. Until they turn 18 years old, any compensation will be managed in a court account. The litigation friend may request funds to be released by writing to the court.
How much compensation will I get for an accident at school?
Any compensation awarded for personal injury in a school accident claim will usually be based on:
- personal suffering from your injuries (general damages) and;
- financial losses because of the accident (special damages).
Our solicitors will always try to find out exactly how you or your child have suffered so that they can try to secure the highest amount of compensation for a school accident possible.
If your school accident claim is successful, it could include compensation to cover:
- The physical pain suffered at the time of the accident and during recovery.
- Any emotional consequences such as anxiety, depression or distress.
- Loss of earnings and future loss of earnings if the claimant will be affected in the future.
- The impact on the claimant’s usual activities. For example, if a child injured at school can’t play on a games console with their friends because of a broken wrist, this could be factored into the claim.
- Care costs. This could include a professional carer for longer-term injuries.
- Physiotherapy and private medical treatment.
- Travel costs associated with your claim or medical appointments.
- Home and vehicle modifications to improve the claimant’s quality of life. For example, if a child suffers a serious brain injury at school, the cost of installing lifts or hoists at home could be claimed for.
As you can probably see, there is a lot to consider when claiming compensation for a school accident. To ascertain your prognosis, your solicitor will use an independent medical expert. They’ll find out how you’ve suffered by examining your injuries, discussing any problems they’ve caused and reading over your medical records. Their report will then be used by your solicitor to work out how much compensation for a school accident you should claim.
Providing proof for a school accident claim
If you or your child is injured in a school, there are several things you may want to do fairly swiftly and should help if you decide to claim compensation later on. They include:
- Visit a hospital. Rather than relying on first aid, you should visit A&E or a minor injuries unit to have any injuries properly examined. At a later date, you could ask for the medical records relating to the visit to help prove your injuries.
- Report the accident. As with any other business or organisation, schools must report and keep a record of accidents they’re aware of. As such, you should tell a member of staff about the incident so it’s recorded in the school accident book (or equivalent) as soon as possible.
- Take photographs. If you’re able to, it’s a really good idea to take photographs of the school accident scene. The best time to do this is before the cause of the accident is moved, replaced or repaired.
- Collect witness information. If anybody else saw you or your child get injured at school, ask for their contact details. A witness statement might be requested by your solicitor to help prove the events that caused the accident.
- Ask for CCTV footage. If the school uses security or door cameras and they recorded your accident, act quickly to secure a copy of the relevant footage. You are entitled to ask for it.
It is also a good idea to keep a track of everything by writing a log of events. Starting from the date of the accident, write down what happened and any important events or costs you’ve incurred. This will make it easier to explain how you’ve suffered if you discuss making a school accident claim with a solicitor.
School accident claim time limits
In the UK, there is no time limit for personal injury claims involving a child under 18 years old. Their claim can be made by their appointed litigation friend at any point before the child’s 18th birthday. However, if they turn 18 and a litigation friend hasn’t made a claim on their behalf, then a 3-year time limit would apply beginning on their 18th birthday.
For adult claimants, there is a 3-year time limit from either the date of the accident at school or the date you became aware of your injuries.
We suggest that claiming compensation for a school accident as soon as possible is usually easiest. An early start makes gathering any proof you might need a lot easier and will allow ample time for medical reports to be arranged.
There is no set time for a personal injury claim to be processed. If the claim is straightforward and uncontested, compensation could be awarded in around 6 months. More complex cases can take 9-months or over a year in some circumstances.
No Win, No Fee school accident claims
Our panel of solicitors provide a No Win, No Fee service so if your claim is accepted, you won’t need to pay legal fees upfront.
During the claim, your solicitor will strive to:
- Collect proof on your behalf.
- Obtain medical reports relating to your injuries.
- File the claim and deal with all communication on your behalf.
- Discuss the claim with the school’s insurers and tackle any questions or objections they raise.
- Secure as much compensation as possible for you or your child.
To see if you could sue a school for negligence on a No Win No Fee basis, please get in touch today.
Can I be sacked from a school if I start a compensation claim against them?
If you’re a teacher, teaching assistant, caretaker or have any other school-based job, you have a right to claim compensation for any injury at work caused by your employer’s negligence.
So long as your claim against the school is honest, you cannot be disciplined, sacked, demoted or singled out in any way simply because you’re suing a school for negligence. If you were, separate legal action might be necessary to claim for constructive or unfair dismissal.
If you have a personal injury lawyer representing you, they can handle all communications with the school’s insurers for you so you won’t need to answer any awkward questions at work.
Start a school accident claim today
Please give us a call on 0800 652 1345 today if you’d like to find out your chances of being compensated for a school accident. There’s no obligation but whatever you decide to do next, we’ll provide free legal advice after reviewing your claim with you.
All accepted claims are handled on a No Win, No Fee basis so legal fees only apply to successful cases.
To find out more about filing a school accident claim for compensation, please use our free live chat service.