School Accident Compensation Claims
If you are the parent or guardian of a child injured at school, or if you were injured when you were under 18, we can help you.
Claiming injury compensation with a solicitor
You can make a claim on behalf of a child at any point up to their 18th birthday. An injured child has a further 3 years, until the date of their 21st birthday, to start their own claim if they choose.
A personal injury solicitor can help you make a claim for compensation. Your solicitor will ask you about how the accident happened, and they will collect evidence to prove what caused the injuries. Your solicitor will then identify who is legally responsible.
Based on the severity of the injuries and other expenses, the solicitor will work out how much money can be claimed.
We can help you make an injury claim, on a No Win No Fee basis.
In this article:
Schools have a legal duty of care for pupils
A duty of care is when a person, company or organisation has a legal obligation to safeguard the well-being of others. Schools owe a duty of care to their pupils.
Children are expected to be naturally inquisitive and less aware of hazards that an adult would recognise.
The law requires schools to take extra precautions to supervise children and keep them safe, above the standard expected of a company employing adults. The younger the child, the more safety precautions should be taken. Schools are expected to take steps to prevent accidents that can be reasonably foreseen.
To make a successful compensation claim, the claimant's solicitor will need to show that the school failed in its' duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent injury.
If a child was injured in a fall from a climbing frame the school may argue that the frame passed all required safety checks and that no amount of supervision would have prevented the fall.
If the climbing frame was too high for the age of the children using it, or if the school failed to install bark or safety matting to cushion the fall, it could be argued that the school failed to take the proper safety precautions.
A claim is also likely to succeed if the school breached Department for Education health and safety guidelines.
Do I have an injury claim?
If you were injured or made ill at school as a child and someone else was at fault, it should be possible to claim financial compensation if:
- The party responsible for the accident owed the child a duty of care
- The accident resulted from a breach of that duty
- The accident caused the child's injuries
What if the injury occurred on a school trip?
Schools have the same duty of care for children on a school trip as they do for children on school premises.
For example, a child may be injured while on a school nature walk. In this situation the school has a duty to supervise the children and keep them safe from reasonably foreseeable injury. If the school fails in their duty, it may be possible to make a claim.
Teachers may also claim for injuries sustained while on a school trip, depending on the circumstances of their injury.
What if the injury occurred outside the school grounds?
Accidents involving child pedestrians outside the school gates are not uncommon. The data indicates that 11-12 year old children are particularly at risk of being injured in a road accident when travelling to and from school.
Drivers are expected to be on alert when driving close to a school. Signage is frequently used to indicate that schoolchildren are likely to be crossing the road.
Even where witness statements or CCTV footage suggests that a child has not looked before stepping off the kerb, a compensation claim may still be possible.
The claim could succeed on the basis that responsibility for the accident is shared by both the child and the driver.
What is the time limit for claiming compensation as a child?
The standard 3 year 'limitation period' does not apply to minors (under 18s).
With injured children, a compensation claim can be made:
- by a parent, guardian or litigation friend on behalf of the child at any time up to their 18th birthday
- by the injured child up to their 21st birthday
Witnesses memories fade over time and other evidence may be lost. Claimants are therefore advised to start a claim as early as possible, giving your solicitor the best chance of making a successful claim.
What is a 'litigation friend'?
Children cannot make a compensation claim on their own behalf.
To make a claim on a child's behalf, an adult must be appointed as a litigation friend.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors and making decisions in respect of the claim.
A litigation friend can be a:
- parent or guardian
- family member
- friend or other adult
- doctor or medical professional
How common are school injuries?
Injuries involving children
The Government stopped collecting school injury data in 2002. Since then, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has campaigned for the reintroduction of the collection of child school injury data.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) in 2014, revealed that compensation paid to injured children in the preceding 5 years totalled £3.3m in for school playground injuries in London, Birmingham and Manchester alone.
Injuries involving teachers, support staff and visitors
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does compile data on education workers. Between 2018 and 2021, there was an annual average of 53,000 non-fatal injuries.
Teachers and support staff may make a claim for injuries sustained during their employment.
Parents and visitors who are injured on school grounds may also be able to make a public liability claim.
What are the typical causes of school injuries?
The most common types of school accidents include:
- slips, trips and falls within the school premises
- accidents involving play equipment
- injuries caused by dangerous school buildings, playgrounds and walkways
- injuries caused by unsafe school equipment such as desks and chairs
- school sporting accidents
- food poisoning caused by food prepared and served on the school premises.
Who can I make a claim against?
A claim would be made against the operator of the school, nursery or college. In the case of state schools, the defendant will usually be the local authority.
If you are injured as a member of the school staff, a claim will be made against the employer. All employers are required by law to hold employer's liability insurance, which will cover the cost of compensation in the event of an accident.
At the start of the claim, the personal injury solicitor will consider the many ways the injury has affected, or could affect the child's life.
Calculating the correct amount of compensation will depend on:
- the seriousness of the injury, and
- any financial losses or costs incurred as a result of the injury.
This compensation calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.
General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an injury? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
What is the average injury compensation for an injury claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an injury will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your injury compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life and your ability to work, and on the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.
Calculate my injury compensation
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your injury claim could be worth now:
How long does a school injury claim take?
How long it can take to get compensation for a school accident can vary significantly.
For example, if the school accepts liability, a claim could be settled in a few months. However, if liability is denied a claim can take considerably longer.
Normally a child injury claim takes 4 to 9 months. Read more:
Caring and sensitive support
A solicitor will handle the claim from initial consultation with you (or the litigation friend), through to the financial settlement. The solicitor will work with other specialists to help with:
- Access to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.
- Advice on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
- Coordination with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
- Financial support, including interim payments if you are unable to work when looking after an injured child.
We recognise that claiming compensation on behalf of a child requires the utmost care, sensitivity and professionalism.
Parents and guardians often prefer to discuss the options with a specialist before proceeding with a claim.
For a FREE consultation, call 0800 376 1001, or arrange a callback from a friendly, legally-trained advisor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the solicitor panel are settled out of court.
Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.
Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.
No win, no fee
No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything if your injury claim is unsuccessful. 'No win, no fee' is also known as a 'Conditional Fee Agreement' or 'CFA'.
Our no win, no fee promise
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your injury. Read more about making a No win, no fee claim
What do I pay if I win my injury claim?
Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.
What do I pay if I do not win my injury claim?
If your injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
How we can help you
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you or your child, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open:
- 8am to 9pm weekdays
- 9am to 6pm on Saturday
- 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a callback from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
to start a claim
Can I claim for someone else?
Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.
If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.
The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.
Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?
You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.
However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.
How long do I have to make an injury claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the injury to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your injury claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an injury after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you are still able to claim injury compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an injury claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?
No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.
Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.
Can I get an early compensation payment?
If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.
An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.
Can I make a school accident claim right up to the three-year limit?
Technically, yes. However, in practice, not always. Many solicitors will not take on a school accident claim that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires. The panel of solicitors will take a claim on as late as possible where it is felt that the claim could be successful.
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.