Accidents caused by Children: Liability & Compensation

If someone is involved in an accident caused by a child, it can be tricky to make a successful legal claim. Depending on the age of the child, it can be difficult to prove that the child was negligent in the eyes of the law. Very young children cannot be treated as negligent in law because they are too young to understand or appreciate the consequences of their actions. However, in some cases older children could be found to be negligent – although there remains the issue of whether the child has any assets to pay compensation. Our Free legal advice chat line can help you with all your legal issues today.

A child is aged 16 or under for these purposes – a 17-18-year-old will be held to the same standard as an adult.

Let’s take a look at what can be done in these circumstances and how our free legal advice could be of use to you,

You can ask our solicitors online for advice on accidents caused by children using the FREE LEGAL advice box on the front page of our website.

Accidents Caused By Children

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.

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.

Compensation Claims

Older children are more aware. They understand the implications of what they have done. 

In some cases older children could be found to be negligent – although there remains the issue of whether the child has any assets to pay compensation. There are generally only four ways in which a child could be made to pay compensation:

  • Where the child is aged10 years and over, and has been convicted of a criminal act in England and Wales, a compensation order could be made in respect of an injury, loss or damage that resulted from the offence
  • If the child could be found negligent, and owns their own assets with which to pay compensation
  • Where a judgement against a child can be enforced for six years after the date of the judgement, during which period the child may become able to pay. (eg. because they have become an adult and are earning their own money)
  • When the child could be found negligent and lives with their parents in a home which has building and contents insurance covering the risk of paying compensation for negligent acts by a household member, including children

Where a child is sued for compensation for negligence, the courts are most likely to take a subjective approach as to whether the child was actually negligent. This means that the court will consider the individual characteristics of the child, such as their intelligence, upbringing, experience and maturity. A child with learning difficulties cannot be held to a greater degree of care for his own safety than that which he is capable of exercising.

Parental Liability

How much should parents be made  accountable for their child’s actions? The law in England and Wales states that parents or carers are not automatically liable for any personal injury, loss or damage a child has caused. However, if a parent was negligent in, for instance, allowing a child’s actions that caused harm or injury, or failing to prevent the incident – the parent could be held liable.

Sometimes however, parents might feel a moral obligation towards the injured party. This is not necessarily because the parents or carers have been negligent and have failed to control their children. 

Also, 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 to take legal action against the adult. This depends on the scanario. And is 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 liability in terms of accidents, is a grey area. One which should be approached with care. 

If your child has been involved in an incident and is the subject of a claim, we advise that you seek legal advice. Preferably from a suitably qualified legal professional who is experienced in this area of law. Get in touch today for more free legal advice. See if you are eligible for legal aid HERE.

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