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Claims on Behalf of Children: Why are they Different?

In a previous blog I commented about claims on behalf of children, who are known as ‘minors’ because they have not yet reached the ‘age of majority’ which is taken as being the age of 18. The general point which must apply to every claim involving a minor is that the injury has been sustained by someone who is and who is seen by the Courts as a vulnerable person.  Because of the vulnerable nature of children, liability or fault is, to an extent, dealt with differently. For example, when considering whether an occupier is responsible for allowing children to gain access to a building site on which the child fell from a wall and sustained a broken leg, the Court will expect that 16 year old child to have a degree of understanding of the risks in climbing over a high wall and a metal fence to gain access to building sites.A Court will be very cautious however, to impose the same degree of understanding upon the child who is say aged 7 or 8. For the same reason, if a child is knocked down in a Road Traffic Accident having stepped onto the road without looking, the Court will look to the driver to see whether the driver should have been aware given the circumstances. Where young children are involved, the Court will expect the driver to drive with appropriate care with regard to the fact that a young child of say age 7 or 8 might run onto the road without warning. The driver should therefore slow his speed and drive in such a way so as to anticipate that the child might run onto the road unexpectedly.Each case is different. Judges approach the question of liability in accidents involving children depending on the circumstances of the case. However, there is no question that given the very nature of a claim involving a child, the issue of vulnerability in protecting that child is going to weigh heavily with a Court.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.