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Accidents caused by Children: Liability, Compensation and Negligence - UK Laws

There are rules that surround accidents caused by children. If your child has caused an accident it may be very difficult to prove that the child behaved in a negligent manner. Sometimes even if the carelessness of the child can be proved it may not be a viable option to pursue legal action as more often than not the child will not have any money to settle a claim.

You may find it quite strange that an injury claim can be made against a child but there are occasions when it is possible. Children who are very young cannot be classed as negligent even if their actions resulted in an accident. This is because they are too young to realise the consequences of their actions.

However, older children are more aware and they understand the implications of what they have done. 

There are four main situations when your child could face a compensation claim:
If your child is aged 10 years or over, they can under the law be convicted of a criminal offence in England and Wales.
In very rare situations where a child has assets, they can be sued for compensation
In certain situations cases can be heard within six years of the incident taking place during which time the child may become eligible.

There are four main situations when a child would be subject to a claim for compensation;
If your child is aged 10 years or over, they can, under the law be convicted of a criminal offence in England and Wales.
In very rare situations where a child has assets they can be sued for compensation
In certain situations cases can be heard within six years of the incident taking place, during which time the child may become eligible to pay
Finally, although a young child would not be able to pay compensation, children do live with their parents, who are ultimately responsible for them. 

Parents often live in a home with buildings and contents insurance and usually these policies will cover compensation for any act of negligence which result from negligence by any member of the household which will include children. 

If there is insurance in place, then compensation may need to be paid. If the family do not hold any buildings or contents insurance then it would prove pointless and costly pursuing a claim.

Parental Liability
This brings us on to parental responsibility. How much should parents be made  accountable for their child’s actions? The law in England and Wales states that parents or carers cannot be held responsible for the damage that their children cause. 

However, parents may feel a moral obligation towards the injured party. This does not however, mean that parents or carers are personally negligent because they have failed to control their children. 

Where the incident occurred in the presence of an adult, it may be that the adult could face partial or full responsibility for the situation. 

Where the child was accompanied by an adult at the time of an incident, it may be possible, depending on the scenario to take legal action against the adult, provided that sufficient proof can demonstrate that the adult acted in a neglectful manner by failing to sufficiently control the child.

Whether or not a child can be held accountable and face potential liability in terms of accidents, is a grey area and one which should be approached with care. 

If your child has been involved in an incident and is the subject of a claim, it is strongly advised that you seek legal advice from a suitably qualified legal professional who is experienced in this area of law.

About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.

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