Can you claim compensation if your child is killed or seriously injured in a school bus or coach accident?
Tragically the media is alight with serious road accidents involving school buses and coaches – the most recent being near Braithwaite in the Lake district in Cumbria and prior to that in Warwickshire.
Regretfully, collisions involving large fast moving vehicles can lead to serious injuries and fatalities to children and other road users. Massive forces come to bear in collisions governed by Newton’s laws and it is difficult for the human body to cope with the consequences of such forces.
Of course – the use of seatbelts should provide a good degree of protection from serious injury, but even the protection from seatbelts can be limited and result in injuries such as whiplash neck injuries – lower back and shoulder injuries.
Whatever the injury suffered by a child or other road user the question of liability and compensation are the same:
1. Was a road user at fault for the injury suffered
The issue of fault is legally known as “negligence” – and there is one thing to be sure: a child passenger on a school bus has not been at fault and it is another road user at fault. This could be the bus / coach driver (if the driver is at fault – so is the driver’s employer through a legal principle known as “vicarious liability”) or the other vehicle involved in the accident.
Should the vehicle or car which caused the accident have disappeared – protection still exists for injured passengers or innocent injured vehicle drivers as a body known as the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) will meet any claims for compensation.
2. How much compensation can you claim?
The amount of compensation you can claim depends entirely on the nature of the injury suffered. A solicitor will have access to guidelines for pain and suffering provided by previous decisions made by UK courts. So far as a death is concerned – there are again guidelines from the courts which depends on the relationship to the individual who dies and whether that individual had any dependents.
Are there special rules relating to claims for children?
“Yes” – there is a great deal of protection for claims made on behalf of children. A parent can act as a “litigation friend” and provide instruction on behalf of a child. But – it is the child’s claim and any compensation monies can only be accepted with the authority of a court in a hearing known as a minor settlement or infant approval hearing. All the monies awarded will be held in the court’s funds office until the child reaches the age of 18 years as at this age a person is considered an adult – free to spend the money as he or she chooses.
What should you do following an injury to your child?
The immediate aftermath of a child injury is traumatic for the child and family members, especially if a death has occurred. It is however important to remember your child has rights to compensation and proper records should be kept to assist such a claim – now or into the future.
The best approach is to speak to a specialist road accident personal injury lawyer to know what you should do to preserve your child’s claim – even if you feel it is too early for you emotionally to start a claim.
I will gladly be of assistance – simply click school bus child accident to speak to me in person or ask an online question free of charge.