Bartletts Solicitors went on to represent the boy in a no win no fee personal injury claim against the local council in question. In correspondence with the council and its insurers, we asserted that the body was legally liable for our client’s injury due to its poor maintenance of the park playground, specifically by allowing the swing seat to deteriorate into a dangerous condition. The local council had breached the duty of care that it owed to children using the swing, as it was clearly not safe to use on the day of the accident. Lack of maintenance meant that the swing’s seat was in a defective state and could have cracked at any time, and this was the direct cause of the child’s broken wrist injury. Within three months of starting the claim, the insurers accepted liability on behalf of the local council, and our client received £3,500 in compensation.
Accidents in playgrounds normally involve children falling from swings, climbing installations, slides and roundabouts. While most of these accidents are the result of normal play among children, misuse of equipment, or poor supervision on the part of adults, others are caused by the poorly maintained state of the playground, including damaged and defective play equipment. This is usually the fault of the local council or private playground operator, and where this is the case it will be possible to claim compensation on behalf of an injured child.
Miss G was having a meal with her parents at a fast food restaurant and playing with her sister in the children’s play area. While using a small climbing frame in the play area, Miss G suffered a deep cut to her hand caused by a piece of sharp metal that had become detached from one of the Monkey bars on the frame. She was bleeding heavily from the wound, which was dressed at the scene using the restaurant’s first aid kit. Her parents took her to hospital, where she required a tetanus jab and four stitches in her hand. The family were very upset by the incident and filed an accident report with the restaurant’s manager. As the restaurant declined to take any further action, the family decided to seek legal advice.
Miss G’s mother got in touch with Bartletts Solicitors, as she had read about our expertise in handling claims for accidents in public places involving children. We wrote to the restaurant’s owners explaining that, under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, the fast food restaurant owes a duty of care to all its customers and in this instance should have ensured that the climbing frame in their children’s play area was free from defects. They had not taken the ‘reasonable measures’ necessary to provide safe premises for their visitors, and this negligence had directly caused Miss G’s injury. On admission of liability, our client received £2,700 in compensation, to be held in trust for her by the court until she reaches the legal age of 18.
Bartletts Solicitors recently represented a child who was injured in an accident at a resort and was able to successfully claim compensation from the parent company. Miss T was playing in a water play area at the resort, when she was run into and knocked over by a group of other children who were behaving recklessly. A parent had already reported the behaviour of the group to staff, but no action had been taken to control them meaning they represented a foreseeable danger to the safety of other children. Miss T sprained her wrist and sustained a concussion from banging her head on the concrete floor surface. She was attended to by resort staff and her parents, and was later taken to the accident and emergency department of a local hospital where she received treatment and was later discharged.
Miss T’s parents contacted our firm and instructed us to represent their child in a no win no fee personal injury claim against the resort’s parent company. We argued that lack of supervision was the primary cause of the accident, and that the park’s management and staff had failed to take the reasonable steps expected of them by law to ensure the safety of their customers. The company later acknowledged breaches of health and safety regulations by not properly supervising activities in the water play area and allowing too many children to enter the attraction. Following an admission of liability, we were able to agree a compensation settlement totalling £3,500 on behalf of the injured child.
A recent client of Bartletts Solicitors was a young girl who tripped over and badly cut her hand on some broken glass lying on the ground next to a park bench where her family were sitting. Local residents had previously reported to the council that this area of the park regularly contained broken glass, and that it was only cleared up very infrequently. Its condition had not improved over the course of many months, despite a high number of complaints from members of the public. The child attended an NHS walk-in centre later the same day where one deep laceration to her hand required five stitches, and other shards of glass that had penetrated her skin were removed. Her parents were deeply upset and angry about the incident as they lived nearby, and were aware of the complaints that had been made to the council concerning problems with broken glass not being cleared away in the park.
The injured girl’s parents contacted our firm for advice after reading about a case we handled previously in which a child had claimed compensation from a local authority for being cut by broken glass, and we subsequently agreed to take on their daughter’s personal injury claim against the council on a no win no fee basis. We obtained statements from a number of local residents, and these all concurred in the fact that the area of the park where the child cut her hand was frequently plagued by broken glass left by youths gathering there in the evenings. Despite numerous complaints from residents, the council had failed to take any action to deal with the problem, and we argued that this represented negligence. These statements along with our letter of claim were sent to the council’s claims handler, and after a few months of correspondence we were able to gain an admission of partial liability for our client’s injury, with the latter receiving £2,250 in compensation.
Children’s claims differ from those of adults in two main ways:
Firstly, they require an adult (this will usually be a parent) to act on their behalf. In the eyes of the law anyone below the age of 18 is a minor and must be represented by an adult who has close contact with the child. The adult must act in the child’s best interests at all times.
Secondly, the child has three years from their 18th birthday to bring a claim, not three years from the date of the accident, which is the case with an adult’s personal injury claim. For example, if a child aged five was involved in an accident in a park, that child would have until their 21st birthday to pursue a personal injury claim.
As solicitors, we must proceed with caution when dealing with a child’s case to ensure that they are fully compensated for their injury. A child’s claim cannot be settled until the child has fully recovered from their injury. If the child has sustained a permanent injury then a final medical report must be obtained confirming this prior to settlement of the claim.
Once settlement has been agreed between the parties, a short hearing must take place at court for a judge to approve the settlement. Again, this is to ensure that the child is being fully compensated for their injury. This hearing is known as an “infant approval hearing” and usually lasts for no longer than 10-15 minutes. The injured child must attend the hearing along with their adult representative.
Following approval by the court, the child’s compensation will be placed in a high interest account and released to the child on their 18th birthday. If the child needs their compensation prior to their 18th birthday, whether in whole or in part, then an application must be made to the court. The court will usually only grant such a request if the money is needed for educational or employment purposes, e.g. to purchase a computer, college/study materials or maybe even driving lessons. This request can be made at the infant approval hearing or any date prior to the child’s 18th birthday.