Children’s Compensation Claims

Children are vulnerable to suffering accidents due to their inexperience and lack of knowledge.

It may be possible to make a compensation claim on behalf of a child if they have been injured in an accident caused by someone else. An adult, a person aged 18 years or older, has to make the compensation claim on behalf of the child.

It is necessary to consider all of the circumstances of the accident and decide whether the accident suffered by the child was caused by someone else’s carelessness or failure to meet safety standards.

It is all too easy to blame a child for an accident and say that the child’s lack of appreciation of the risks of a situation or awareness of the perils of an action resulted in the accident. However, the other side of the argument is to say that due to a child being so vulnerable to accidents they are entitled to be protected from harm by adults.

For instance, in road accident compensation claims on behalf of children who have been knocked down by cars, the courts always look closely at the behaviour of the car driver and whether he/she could reasonably be expected to have avoided knocking down the child.

In a case in the High Court following a child’s accident the car driver requested a declaration from the court that he was not liable for the unfortunate accident suffered by a 10 year old boy who had been knocked down after running out into the road. The High Court declined to make the declaration because after looking at the circumstances of the accident the 10 year old boy was not entirely at fault for the accident.

The High Court judge said that the accident occurred on a narrow road where there were cars parked at the side of the road, it was in a busy street in a town centre, and in such circumstances the Highway Code instructs car drivers to “drive with the safety of children in mind at a speed suitable for the (road) conditions.”

The High Court decided that an important reason for the accident was that the car driver was travelling too fast for the road conditions, even though he was travelling at about 27 mph in a 30 mph zone. If a car is travelling too fast then it prevents the car driver from braking and manoeuvring the car if a child runs out into the road ahead.

It is open for a court to decide that both the adult  and the child were partly at fault for the accident. This is known as the child being “contributory negligent” for the accident. It depends on all the circumstances of the accident whether it is fair to hold that the child was contributory negligent, such as the age of the child and the degree of care that could reasonably be expected of a child of that age. If the child accident victim is held to be contributory negligent then they will still be awarded compensation for the injuries caused by the accident, however it will be a reduced sum of compensation.

The High Court case: Toropdar v D (a child)