A Guide to Claiming School Accident Compensation

The following article takes you through what you need to know about making a school accident compensation claim.

Introduction

During the past five years, compensation payments totalling £3.3 million have been made to the parents of children injured in schools across Greater London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester.

A broad range of incidents gave rise to these claims, including slips and trips, chemical burn accidents and occupier's liability claims for accidents caused by other hazards on school property.

Teachers and support staff may make a work accident claim for injuries sustained during their employment. Parents and visitors who sustain illness or injury on school grounds may also be able to claim.

What are the causes of school accidents?

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.

The amount of compensation the claimant will receive depends on the extent of their injuries and the impact these injuries have had on a claimant's life, rather than the cause of the injury.

However, for the purposes of making a personal injury claim, the cause of the injury does matter. It must be shown that the accident caused the claimant's injuries, and that the accident itself was caused by another party's act or negligence.

School trip accidents

Accidents may also occur while the student is away from the school premises on a school trip. Depending on the circumstances of an accident that occurs on a school trip, the school may be liable.

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.

Accidents outside schools

Accidents involving pedestrians outside the school gates are not uncommon. Data from a leading road insurance compensation indicates that 11- and 12-year-olds are particularly at risk of being injured in a road accident on the school journey.

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.

Who can make a school accident claim?

If a parent, visitor or teacher was injured in the last three years as a result of a school accident that was not their fault, he or she may be eligible to claim compensation.

Where the school accident involves a minor child, the child's parent, guardian or relative may bring a claim on the child's behalf. This person, known by the Courts as a 'litigation friend,' will be responsible for taking decisions in respect of the claim.

Who can you make a claim against?

Claims are brought against the operator of the school, nursery school or college. In the case of state schools, the defendant usually will be the local authority.

Where the accident involves a member of staff, the claim will be made against the employer. The school will have taken out insurance to cover the cost of compensation in the event of an accident. Read more about claiming compensation following an accident at work.

Is the school liable for a school accident?

Children are expected to be naturally inquisitive and less aware of hazards that an adult would recognise. The law requires schools to therefore 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.

The Courts do not expect schools to protect a child from every accident. Schools are, however, expected to take reasonable steps to prevent those accidents that can be reasonably foreseen. To win a claim, the claimant's solicitor will need to establish that the school failed to use reasonable care to make sure the child was not injured, and that the child was injured as a result.

Assessing liability

Each case will turn on its facts. For example, a child may fall from a climbing frame in the playground and break their arm.

The school may argue that the frame has passed all required safety checks and that no amount of supervision would have prevented the fall. The Courts are likely to accept this argument.

If, however, 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, then the school may be judged to have not taken the proper precautions to prevent the accident.

A claim is likely to succeed if the school has breached specific guidelines laid down by the Government and education authorities regarding school health and safety.

How much compensation can I claim for a school accident?

The amount of money you could claim for your school accident will depend on:

  • the extent of your injury, and
  • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your school accident has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in general damages and special damages.

General 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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

See a list of what you can claim for:

Examples of special damages include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Find out what your claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Calculate my injury claim

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your school accident case from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

How soon after a school accident must claim be made?

Claims can be brought on behalf of a child at any time up to their 18th birthday. An injured child has another three years, until the date of their 21st birthday, to begin their own claim if they choose.

Witnesses memories fade over time and other evidence may be lost. Claimants are therefore advised to start their claim as early as possible as this gives the solicitor a greater chance of making a successful claim.

No win, no fee, no risk

No win, no fee means that your solicitor will not charge you anything if your school accident 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 school accident injury.

What do I pay if I win my school accident 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 school accident claim?

If your school accident claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees whatsoever.

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

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, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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School Accident FAQ's

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.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

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.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s 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.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

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.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an interim compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.

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.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

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.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert