My Child was Injured Whilst Trespassing, can I Claim Compensation on Their Behalf?
As we grow up, we all gain a significantly clearer understanding of what is safe, what is legal and what is morally right. As children however, dangers are much less obvious and can often pose as an enticing source of amusement.
We understand it is stressful to think about your little ones roaming in potentially unsafe areas or even injuring themselves. Of course, there is nothing you want more than to keep your children safe at all times.
Inadequately Secured Property
Should your child come into harm as a result of safety hazards being inadequately secured on private or public property, you may have the right to pursue a claim for compensation on their behalf.
We know no amount of money will turn back time. But hopefully, by securing compensation for your child’s injuries you can focus on the healing process instead.
By receiving the compensation you deserve you won’t need to worry about any financial consequences of the accident.
Preventing Children from Exploring isn’t Always Easy
Private reservoirs, construction sites, man-made ponds, farms and even skips or discarded appliances could all be considered tempting, albeit dangerous, playgrounds to some children and teens.
These are known as allurements. Despite how vigilant and protective parents may be, it’s not always possible to keep children away from them.
What is the Current Law on Trespassing?
You will have undoubtedly seen warning signs that read ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’. So what would happen if your kids decided to break this rule?
It is very rare that trespassers face prosecution unless they are guilty of causing damage, squatting or holding events such as illegal raves. These are some of the only forms of trespassing that are covered by criminal law. So unwittingly walking your dog over an area of private farmland as an example would unlikely cause any serious issues.
In terms of child trespassers, there is actually a greater duty of care on the land owner. The occupier is required to make premises secure and hide away any allurements as thoroughly as possible.
An allurement in a residential home or garden could be anything from an impressive wooden climbing frame to a pet, so consideration should be given to how easily these allurements can be seen or accessed by strangers.
British Railways Board v Herrington
In 1972, the House of Lords made an important ruling on occupier’s liability and trespassers’ rights.
The case in question involved a six-year-old boy who had wandered from a local park onto some train tracks. This was made possible as a result of a sizeable gap in the fence surrounding the tracks.
The young boy suffered burns and electrocution after going onto the train tracks. As a result the British Railways Board were found to be liable for his injuries. They were found liable as they had known of the fence defect for many months but failed to repair it.
The Lords ruled that an occupier does not owe a trespasser the same duty of care as they do visitors. However, they owe it to potential trespassers to take reasonable steps to avert danger.
This landmark decision is reflected and extended in the 1984 Occupier’s Liability Act.
The Occupier’s Liability Act of 1984
The Occupier’s Liability Act is a piece of legislation designed to ensure that occupiers and land owners, whether they are residents or businesses, show a duty of care towards visitors.
The Act gives visitors and trespassers the right to take action for harm caused on property that does not belong to them. Properties can include anything from buildings and gardens to any kind of vessel and even includes scaffolding equipment. Although no occupier is expected to anticipate or protect trespassers, they owe them a duty of care if:
- The occupier knows of danger in or around the premises and has failed to repair it.
- The occupier ought to have reasonably considered providing some form of protection. This is mostly about common sense as we wouldn’t expect the property owners of dangerous areas such as train tracks or building sites to leave the premises completely exposed and without any type of fence, security or warning signs.
- The occupier has reasonable grounds to believe that the trespasser will likely be near the danger.
Protecting Visitors and Trespassers
For example, a council or organisation owns a private fishing platform and they are aware that the area is regularly visited by teenagers. Issues such as loose or broken panels on the platforms could pose a real danger to trespassers, so they should be repaired or the premises should be firmly secured.
This is not to suggest that land owners should be accepting of trespassers, however if they are aware of a hazard and a recurring trespassing problem, they do have the responsibility to try and stop one or both these issues to avoid serious injuries from occurring. This responsibility becomes heightened if the trespassers are children or likely to be children, for example if the premises were near playgrounds or schools.
The Act does not apply if the trespasser knew of, and accepted the risk when entering the premises. However, this would rarely be the case if the trespasser is a child.
Are Occupiers Liable for the Injury Caused to my Child?
We understand that it is terribly distressing when your child is injured. Especially if it was through no fault or malevolence on your childs’ behalf.
Even if the intentions of your child were not innocent, we strongly recommend that you still call us for a free consultation to see if you could be entitled to compensation.
This is understandably a very delicate and complicated area of personal injury law, so trustworthy advice should be sought.
Claiming for Personal Injury Compensation on Behalf of a Child
Our personal injury solicitors have extensive experience helping parents claim compensation on behalf of their injured child.
Understandably, these cases require sensitivity and delicacy. This is why we will always ensure you and your child are confident and comfortable along every step of the process.
All of the cases we see involving trespassing are drastically different. This is why we promise to approach every claim with determination and honesty on a no-win-no-fee basis.
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