What to do when your Child is Involved in an Accident?

One of the most terrifying things a parent can hear is that their child has been involved in an accident.

Unlike adults children, especially young children, have difficulty in perceiving specific levels of danger and may not be able to see particular dangers which might be quite apparent or obvious to a grown up.

Whether at playgroup, school or on an outing it is the teacher’s, carer’s or adult in charge’s responsibility to assess any dangers which may be present on the child’s behalf.

Where an adult sees danger a child may well see fun and adventure and it is our job, as adults, to teach the child about those dangers and to keep them safe.

Sadly, sometimes accidents involving children do happen, perhaps through a road traffic incident, an accident at school or perhaps even in a public place such as a park or a zoo. However, under certain circumstances the child involved in the accident may be entitled to claim compensation for personal injury.

Although compensation can in no way make up for the accident it can help to make the child’s life a little more comfortable.

Most personal injury cases can be dealt with on a no win no fee basis which quite literally means that if the claimant should lose their case they will not have to pay their solicitor’s fees and their insurance cover will take care of all the defendant’s legal costs.

Should the claimant win their case then it will be down to the defendant to cover all legal costs and solicitors’ fees for both parties.

When your child is involved in an accident and you believe it may be possible to make a claim the first step is to have the child’s injuries assessed by a medical professional. The doctor assessing the injuries will need to compile a medical report documenting the severity of the injuries sustained, whether the child required surgery for those injuries and what treatment and medication were prescribed.

The solicitor dealing with the case will also require further evidence of the accident to strengthen the case and this could include:

Witness statements – The chances are someone will have witnessed your child’s accident, whether it’s a teacher, a member of staff at a theme park or zoo they were visiting or even a passer by. It is imperative that statements are obtained from anyone who witnessed the accident to verify the nature of that accident

Photographs – Although the last thing on a parent’s mind when their child is involved in an accident is to start taking photos often photographs can help to significantly back up a claim. If it is possible the parent or perhaps even a teacher or member of staff should try to get a few photos of both the scene of the accident and the child’s injuries. If a third party was involved such as a driver of a vehicle it is also vital to get pictures of that vehicle

Pain and suffering – From the time of the accident until the court hearing it would also prove prudent for the parent of the injured child to keep a diary of the pain and suffering the child has experienced as a result of the injuries sustained and what medication is being used to treat the discomfort

Loss of amenity – The term ‘loss of amenity’ refers to an activity or something which the injured party once enjoyed or took pleasure from but is no longer able to partake in as a direct result of the injury. Any loss of amenity should be documented

Parents’ loss of earnings – The court will also take into account any loss of earnings experienced by the parents as a result of taking time off work to care for their injured child. In some circumstances the parent or parents may even have been forced to give up their job or take a lower paid part time job in order to be more readily available for their child

Travelling expenses – Any expenses incurred as a result of hospital appointments and visits to the GP should also be listed

Day to day effects – The court will also need to know about any day to day effects the accident has had on the child. This may include psychological effects such as night terrors, sleep problems or needing counselling, or physical effects such as problems with mobility, loss of appetite or persistent headaches

Once the personal injury solicitor has all the evidence required it will then be up to the court to assess the case and use the information supplied to calculate the award. In many cases any compensation awarded to a minor will be placed in a trust fund which the child can access once they turn 18.

Unlike adult personal injury claims, which must be made within 3 years of the date of the accident, a personal injury claim for a child has no time limit until the child reaches 18, at which point the claim must then be made before the claimant turns 21. However, it is always best to make a claim as near to the event of the accident as possible to ensure all evidence is still fresh and hasn’t become distorted over time.