claims against children

Can Personal Injury Claims Be Made Against Children?

Find out when you can make a claim for compensation for injury caused by a child; the responsibility of parents for their child’s negligence; who pays for a child’s negligence; the involvement of the CICA for criminal acts by children: why claiming against children are undesirable.

Access our specialist personal injury solicitor free help service.

Can a child be liable to pay you compensation for personal injury?

In theory – a child can be liable to pay you compensation if as a result of a child’s negligence you suffer personal injury.

Watch out – the test of what is negligent depends on what would have been reasonable for a child of that age.

In other words – a child’s appreciation of danger and risk of injuring another increases as a child gets older. A very young child will rarely be found to be legally at fault – as awareness of the consequences of their actions or inactions is simply not present.

Are parents responsible for the negligent acts of their children?

In some types of personal injury claim, such as work accidents, an employer can be found vicariously liable for the torts of their servants.

In other words – an employer is responsible to pay compensation if their employees (typically acting in the course of their employment) negligently cause injury to another.

This same rule does not apply to parents and their children. Parents have no vicarious liability for the acts of the children.

In other words – a claim cannot be made against a parent for a negligent act by their child that causes you personal injury.

Watch out – there are some instances when a child causes injury and the parents are themselves considered at fault and a claim can be made directly against the parents.

For example – a young child opens a car door onto the road and knocks a cyclist down. The parent being in charge of the car (and in the turn the motor insurer of the vehicle) could be found at fault and have to pay you compensation. Clearly a young child should be properly supervised by a parent before opening the car door onto a road.

parents meeting child claims
Parents Meeting Child Claims

If you have a claim against a child who pays compensation?

We shall look at the individuals, insurers and bodies that might be liable to pay you compensation for your personal injury caused by the negligent acts of a child.

The Child

If your claim for personal injury is against a child, the child is considered legally at fault, and should you succeed with a claim – then the child alone has to pay the compensation.

Children typically will not have means to pay – so you would have to wait until the child becomes an adult (18 years of age in England and Wales) before the judgment could be enforced.

Household Insurance

In the house where the child who caused you injury resides – there may be household building and contents insurance, which may cover the liability of householders for negligent acts. This may mean that the household insurance could meet the child’s liability of paying your personal injury compensation.

Parents

Parents are not responsible for paying compensation for the negligent act of their child – but a parent still might make a decision to meet their child’s liability.

Remember – on some occasions parents may have been negligent themselves and so there could be chance of making a claim directly against them.

Motor Insurers Bureau

If a child were to cause an accident by taking their parents without permission or stealing a car – the Motor Insurers Bureau / MIB can meet liability for uninsured and untraced drivers.

Schools

Rarely a school might be found responsible for the acts of a child, such as persistent bullying or dangerous play that is not properly controlled.

What happens if a child causes you criminal injury?

If you suffer injury as a result of a crime of violence by a child – you may be able to recover compensation.

At the time of writing – criminal culpability for children is from the age of 10 years old. Thus – in theory a child can be prosecuted from the age of 12 for criminal acts.

At a criminal hearing a compensation order can only be made against a guilty child if the child has the means to pay.

If the police verify a crime of violence occurred (whether a prosecution has taken place or not) – the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority / CICA may pay criminal injuries compensation.

What should you do if a child has caused you personal injury?

The reality for most people is that claims against children will not be realistically considered.

Finding a solicitor to help you make a claim would be very difficult.

Most lawyers will have a policy not to consider claims against children and in general that is the policy we adopt.

You should however speak to a solicitor to see if there is another person, insurer or body who may be able to pay you compensation for a negligent or criminal act by a child.

We offer a number of free online and telephone legal help options – we are happy to speak to you about your injuries and the best way forward, you can ask an online question and have your potential claim assessed.