Accidents caused by Children: Liability, Compensation and Negligence

Has your Child caused an Accident?

If someone is involved in an accident caused by a child, it can be difficult to prove that the child’s behaviour has been negligent. Even if carelessness by the child can be proved, it may not be worth pursuing any legal action as the child is not likely to have any money.

Compensation Claim

It may seem odd to suggest that injury to minor claim could be made against a child, but sometimes this is possible. Very young children cannot be considered negligent in causing an accident as they are too young to realise the consequences of their actions, but older children can. There are only four cases when your child will have to give a compensation claim:

  1. Firstly, if your child is 10 years and over she or he can be convicted of a criminal act in England and Wales.
  2. Second, in rare cases where the child has personally got assets, she or he can be sued for compensation.
  3. Third, in certain cases a judgment can be enforced for six years following the date of the judgment, during which period your child may become able to pay.
  4. Lastly, though a young child would not have the means to pay compensation claim, we must remember that most children live with their parents in a home which has building and contents insurance. Building and contents insurance will normally cover the cost of paying compensation for any acts of negligence by a household member, including children. If there is insurance in place, the compensation need to be made. However, if there is no insurance there is no point in making a claim.

Liability of Parents and Carers

  • In England and Wales, parents or carers are not liable for the damage that their children cause, although they may feel a moral responsibility. For instance, you decide to get your neighbour’s window glass replaced when it has been broken by your child’s ball.
  • But this does not mean that the parents (or carers) are personally negligent in not properly controlling the children. The fault is then theirs in failing to prevent an accident. In the case of a young child accompanied by an adult, it could be that the adult would be held wholly or partly responsible.
  • If the child was escorted by a responsible adult at the time of the accident, it may be possible to take legal action against the adult, if it can be shown that the adult acted neglectfully by failing to oversee the child properly. For instance, a parent who does not control children in a car, to the disadvantage of other road users, will also be held responsible.
  • Even if the child was not escorted by an adult, it may be possible to take legal action against an adult for failing to oversee the child at the time of the accident.