If a school injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Schools should be safe havens for learning and growth, but accidents can still occur, leading to injuries that disrupt a child’s education and well-being. If a child is injured as a result of inadequate supervision or unsafe premises, families can seek compensation to cover medical care and other related expenses.
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.
In this article
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.
Am I entitled to make a school accident claim?
If you've been injured or diagnosed with an illness in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, you will be able to claim compensation.
Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
Can I claim if I feel I was partly to blame?
Identifying who is legally responsible for a claimant's injuries is not always obvious.
In our 2023 Personal Injury Claimant Survey, 13.99% of respondents felt they were at least partly responsible for their accident or injuries.
Even if you were partly at fault, you could still be able to claim compensation. 'Split liability' or 'contributory negligence' are terms used to describe these cases.
How long do I have to start a school injury claim?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
For injured children, a claim can be started by a parent or guardian at any time before they turn 18. Thereafter, the injured individual has until their 21st birthday to make a claim on their own.
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.
How much compensation can I claim for a school injury?
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'.
School accident injury
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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 is compensation for quantifiable financial losses you've incurred as a result of your injury. Compensation can include lost earnings, and any additional expenses directly related to your injury.
These damages will also cover any medical or treatment bills, such as diagnostic imaging tests, physiotherapy and pain management.
Claiming compensation for psychological injuries
If you have experienced psychological issues in addition to physical symptoms, you are not alone.
Our 2023 Public Place Injury Claimant Survey reveals the extent of psychological trauma, with 29.03% of claims involving a psychological injury, 70.97% of which related to a physical injury.
An injury at school can affect a child's learning and social interactions, and trigger didaskaleinophobia (fear of going to school). Childhood anxiety can lead to longer-term depression, affecting a child's future prospects and ability to function as an adult.
Compensation for psychological harm can help you access mental health support and therapies not always available through the NHS.
Our compensation calculator can estimate your compensation for psychological injuries. Or you can call us on 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor.
Claiming school accident 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Find out
if you can claim
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to start a claim
Public liability claims
School injury claims are usually considered to be public liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
- Find out
if you can claim
- No obligation
to start a claim
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee injury claim, we are open:
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Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
Handled with the utmost professionalism... extremely kind, courteous and empathetic.
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.