Personal Injury

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School Accidents

Accidents at school - what are the most common types of accident?

Schools are supposed to be a 'safe' environment, both for staff and for children. But everyone knows that there is no such thing as a truly safe environment, and accidents at school do happen. When a child is injured, the first priority is the welfare of that child and their treatment and protection. But once the dust settles, can you as a parent claim compensation for your child's injury?

The simple answer is yes, you can. As with any other form of accident compensation claim, children are covered in the eyes of the law if an accident can be proven to be the fault of a third party through negligence. Children are naturally curious about their surroundings, and young children in particular may not yet have a clear concept of the dangers that may surround them. In turn, a school has a duty of care to ensure the safety of every child while at school or involved in school activities that are carried out elsewhere. You are fully entitled to expect that every precaution is taken to ensure your child's safety and that they are adequately supervised at all times to prevent the chance of injury.

But accidents do happen. The most common types of accident in school include accidents caused by playground equipment, slips, trips or falls, accidents on school playing fields or during sports lessons and activities and accidents during school trips.

Although not every eventuality can be taken into account for every single child, there are basic guidelines enforced by the Government and education authorities that all schools must adhere to in an attempt to minimise the possibility of accidents. If those guidelines have not been followed, or there is evidence that the school has been negligent in their duty of care towards a child's well being and safety, then you may have grounds for claiming compensation.

Unlike other accident compensation claims, the time limit for making a school accident compensation claim on behalf of a child is extended beyond the usual two-year period that exists for adults. Claims for children can extend for three years from their 18th birthday or even longer in some cases. This is particularly important for children who have suffered injuries that have long-term consequences, because the development of the child will be affected and so the care needs may be radically different from one year to the next.

It is sometimes difficult to decide as to whether an accident has been caused by the negligence of the school or through the over-exuberance of the child themselves. A bump on the knee may just be a genuine accident that is nobody's fault (children have been known to 'trip over their own feet' on occasion!). But if that bump on the knee is the result of falling because of a slippery floor that was not clearly marked, then the fault does often lie with the school.

Parents often feel intimidated about taking their child's school on and can feel guilty about taking money that they believe could be better spent on educating their child. But it is not just about money (and any successful claim is paid by insurance in any event). If a school is failing to care for one child though neglecting its obligations to clearly mark wet floors, for example, then there is a strong likelihood that other children will suffer the same kind of injury. It is therefore only right that the school be made aware of their failing and to reinforce the importance of that duty of care element. Additionally, everyone, including children, have the right to be compensated for an injury that wasn't their fault. Basic precautions can prevent most accidents in schools, but everyone should be aware that there is no such thing as a truly 'safe' environment, especially for children.

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