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Accidents in Schools, College and Universities

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Schools, colleges and universities may be some of the safest places to be due to the safeguarding procedures.

However, there is always a risk that an accident could occur. If the accident resulted due to somebody else’s actions, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Can I make a claim for an accident in a school?

It is expected that children will receive some bumps and bruises from playing at school. However, if the injuries were caused by negligence of the school you may be able to make a claim for compensation.

Furthermore, you or any other person has had an accident on school premises due to someone else’s negligence, for example, lack of supervision within the classroom or a gym class, you may also be entitled to make a claim.

If your child has an illness, such as asthma or has an allergy which may require treatment (i.e. Epipen or an inhaler) and the child fails to receive their treatment in an appropriate time, the school may also be held liable.

  • Accidents on school trips

While unfortunately accidents do happen, if the child is on a school trip and not on the school’s premises, the school will not necessarily be held liable for the incident. The school will have a duty of care to protect the child and keep them safe within reason.

However, it may be due to another institution’s negligence. For example, if your child has gone to an adventure camp and the camp are negligent and the child is injured, the camp may be held responsible for the child’s injuries that have been sustained while on their premises.

  • Accidents at the school gates

As soon as you, the child or any visitor leaves the premises of the school, this may eliminate any liability that the school has for injuries sustained while not on school grounds. For example, if there is a pothole just outside of the school’s gates, this may fall directly on the local council and not on to the school.

Accidents in Schools


Can I make a claim for an accident at a College/University?

As with schools, colleges and universities also have a duty of care of their students. Even if the college/university is only partly at fault, then a claim may still be valid.

It is expected that equipment is kept up to standard and that all regulations have been followed. So, for example, the corridor floors kept clear of tripping hazards, all equipment has passed all of the health and safety checks, and all policies and procedures are being followed.

Can a teacher or staff member make a claim?

Of course! Staff members of the school, college or university are entitled to make a claim if they have been involved in an accident that has resulted in a personal injury. Every school, college and university are bound under the legislation ‘Health and Safety at Work Act 1974’ and ‘The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999’.

If a school, college or university fails to comply with the applicable legislation, then they may be found to be in breach of their duty of care and a claim may be made.

What is Duty of Care?

The law imposes an obligation on schools, colleges and universities, to ensure the safety or well-being of their students and staff members while on their premises. The duty of care afforded to students is while the child is on the school premises during school hours or while the building is open to the public (for example, some university libraries are open 24/7, they will still fall within the duty of care afforded to the student).

Schools, Colleges and Universities must manage the risks on their property, (this includes, playgrounds, walls, buildings and fields). Health and Safety laws, policies and procedures must also be followed.

What should I do if I or my child has an accident at school, college or university?

If you or your child has been involved in an accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention as soon as possible. Not only is your health your priority, but it will also serve as valuable evidence of what happened and what injuries were sustained.

We also recommend that you report the incident to the school, college or university, so that they have a record of the incident and injuries. If possible, request a copy of the report.

After you have sought medical attention and the incident has been logged in the accident book, we recommend that you sit the child down and ask them to recall the events and talk you through what happened, how it happened and who was involved. This should either be written down or recorded, as children’s memories can become hazy. So, this may serve as a good reminder later on.

Accidents in Schools


My child had an accident in the school playground after school hours, can a claim still be made?

This will vary on the incident. Most of the time, the school will not be held liable for the injuries sustained unless there has been a blatant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of a member of the public. For example, if there was a public footpath which formed part of the school grounds and there was a pot hole that had not been cordoned off properly, which may result in a personal injury, a claim may be made.

  • Proving who was responsible for mine or my child’s accident

This may be very difficult because if your child is younger, their version of events may be inaccurate to the actual event and may be exaggerated. This may then trigger some confusion as to the actual events of the incident. In this case, there would need to be evidence as to the actual chain of events. For example, witnesses or CCTV.

Can I make a claim on behalf of my child and what is the time limit for bringing a claim forward?

A claim on behalf of a child, under the age of 18, must be made via a ‘Litigation friend’, this is usually a parent, a close relative or legal guardian. This Litigation Friend must have a close connection with the child.

The time limit for bringing a claim is 3 years from the child’s 18th Birthday. Therefore, children have until they reach the age of 21 years old to make an injury claim. However, we do recommend bringing a claim as soon as possible while events are fresh in people’s minds (for the child and any witnesses involved).

If you or the injured child lacks capacity and cannot bring a claim and manage their own affairs, the 3-year time limit will not begin until the injured person regains capacity. If the party will not regain capacity, then a litigation friend will be used.

What evidence will I need?

Having evidence of what happened and where is crucial, having this information will build a solid foundation of proof for your case and can help your compensation claim to have a better chance of success We recommend obtaining information on:

  • What happened – Write a detailed explanation of what happened in writing, this is a good aid for you or your child’s memory. Notify teachers and staff of the school, college or university, so they can make a record of the incident, which will assist when making a claim.
  • Where it happened – Try and document where the injury happened, by either taking photographs or drawing out a detailed sketch (including dimensions if relevant).
  • Extent of the injuries – Seek medical attention from your own GP or Hospital, it is useful to note what injuries you or your child has sustained. It also helps if the accident circumstances are logged in your medical records, this will help to support the fact that you have been injured.
  • Document who was involved – Obtain full names, addresses and contact details of anybody involved.
  • Witnesses – If there were any credible witnesses to the incident, try to obtain their contact information.
  • Security camera – Some colleges and universities may have security cameras up that may assist.



What can be claimed for an accident in a school?

The amount of compensation that may be awarded will vary in each individual claim. This will directly relate to the impact on the injured party’s life and their well-being. For example, how long it has taken for the injured party to recover, or the severity of the injuries.

  • General Damages – This is the amount awarded for the pain and suffering that you or your child has endured. The pain and suffering element of the award compensates the claimant for all past, present and future physical and psychiatric symptoms.
  • Care claim – If you have had somebody care for you or your child due to the injuries sustained, you may be entitled to recover this (for example, if you have had to take time off work).
  • Tutor fees – If your child has had to have time off school due to an incident, they may be entitled to claim for compensation to cover the cost of a private tutor.
  • Loss of earnings/future loss of earnings – Depending on the age of the injured party, they may have had to take some time off work to recover from their injuries, this may be claimed. Depending of the severity of the injuries, if this puts a strain on their ability to work on the open labour market, this may also be claimed (i.e. if you cannot stand for long periods of time, this may affect some job roles).
  • Medication/travel costs – you may claim expenses incurred following the injury; for the cost you have paid for taxi fares, fuel, prescription charges. You should keep all receipts to help assist your claim.
  • Help from family members – If you have had assistance from family or friends following the accident, it may be possible to claim compensation. For example, work including housework, gardening, DIY.



What happens to a child’s compensation?

Once compensation has been received, if your child is under the age of 18, it will be placed into a special court bank account and will be held on trust until they attain the age of 18.

However, in some cases, a personal injury trust fund can be set up, to allow trustees to be able to advance money for the child to assist with vital costs; such as further medical treatment, such as further surgery or rehabilitation.

If the teachers are denying that an incident happened, but my child says it did, can I make a claim?

In cases involving children, it can be difficult to establish what happened, depending on who witnessed the accident or what the child reports happened. If there is sufficient evidence a claim may still be made.

We would have to review your case on an individual basis and assess whether there are reasonable prospects of success. If we are unable to help, we may still be able to give you advise on what you should do next.

If the teachers are not sure of the circumstances surrounding the accident, can a claim still be made?

If the circumstances are unknown, it may be difficult to pursue a claim, as the evidence needs to be consistent, complications may arise due to the uncertainty. There must be sufficient evidence that that the injuries sustained are as a result of the incident. It must also be shown that the defendant is partially responsible for causing the incident.

If I make a claim for my child, will Social Services be involved?

If the injury raises cause for concern, then social services may be involved. However, this shouldn’t be anything to worry about. It is just standard procedure to check the wellbeing of your child.

Will I or my child need to take any time off school/college/university during the case?

This will depend on the severity of yours / the child’s injuries. If you need to take time off as a result of the injury, then your education institution should make reasonable adjustments to help you. Whether this be to help with the work you catch up on or to arrange for additional classes to help cover the ones missed.

We will not ask you to take any time off, unless an expert medical appointment has been arranged, however, we will attempt to arrange this outside of school hours.

Court of Appeal Guidance


Will I or my child have to go to court?

Parties must attempt to settle claims out of court, therefore, most Personal Injury claims settle in the early stages. However, there may be certain circumstances in which you may have to attend court, (i.e. a child settlement approval hearing – this is a hearing where the court must approve any claims settled, they do this to make sure that the child best interests have been taken care of).

If proceedings are issued, this still does not mean necessarily mean that you will need to attend court. Negotiations will continue throughout in an attempt to settle before any hearing must take place.

How will the case be funded?

We offer a ‘no-win, no-fee’ funding option, which means that you won’t have to pay another out of your own pocket. There are no hidden charges and we do not ask for any money upfront.

The only time you will need to pay anything is if your claim is successful. The Defendant will pay the majority of our legal costs, but not fully. As such, as part of our agreement, we are able to take a deduction from your damages.

All we ask is that you uphold your side of the agreement, and we will handle the rest. Namely that you do not mislead us, co-operate with us and attend any scheduled appointments/hearing dates. If despite this, your case is unsuccessful, there will be no charge to you.

If the case succeeds, there will be a deduction made from your damages which is discussed if your case is accepted by our firm.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why use Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to make your case?

We will ensure that we update you at every stage of the case and you will have a dedicated handler from the very beginning. It can be very stressful after an injury and our team can assist you by breaking down the legal jargon during the process and listening to you.

Further reading

Health and Safety For School Children – Government Resource


For advice on how to escalate your claim for accidents in schools, colleges and universities – get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you with your Employers’ Liability claim.

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Emma Bell

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0113 218 5706

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