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A building site for example may represent an obvious danger to an adult, but to a child it can look like the best free adventure playground imaginable.
Under the 1984 Occupiers Liability Act, the occupier in control of land has a legal responsibility to ensure the land is either safe if a child should trespass or ensure that security measures make it impossible for a child to enter.
Children don’t understand dangers as adults do. As well as ignoring warnings such as ‘No Entry’ signs (indeed they may not be able to read them) or considering fences as opportunities to find gaps for small bodies to crawl through, they may in fact regard such barriers as ‘allurements’.
If its reasonable to assume that the possibility of trespass on a dangerous site would be high (e.g. a building site next to a school) and you can prove that the occupier failed to take adequate security measures to prevent trespass or ensure that the land was safe, Access Legal may be able to make a successful trespass claim if your child is injured.
How do I make a claim about an accident whilst trespassing
If you think you have a case for making a claim contact Access Legal’s specialist lawyers who can give you initial advice about the laws on trespassing on private property, usually without any cost or obligation to use our services.
Anyone under 18 cannot make a claim themselves and although they are the client, an adult (usually a relative) must act as their litigation friend. Their role is to instruct the solicitor and sign legal documents on behalf of the child.
Access Legal will investigate the causes and circumstances of the accident and work with medical experts to establish your child’s immediate needs and fund any medical treatment by interim payments from the other side. This also allows us to build a case that accurately values the cost of any current and future support your child might require, which could be life-long and expensive if their injuries are severe.
You should report the accident to someone in authority as soon as possible, although it is likely that the emergency services may be involved. Any civil claim is entirely separate from a possible criminal action. Children under 10 can’t be charged with any crime but those between 10 and 17, although treated differently from adults, can be arrested and taken to court.
If successful, an award is paid into the Court Funds Office, where it is held until the child reaches the age of 18. The money, plus interest, is then released, however it is possible to ask the judge to allow some of the remuneration to be paid straight away.
If I have a case about an accident whilst trespassing
Whether you have a case depends on proving that the occupier or landowner failed in their duty of care under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1984. However, the required standard of such proof is simply that your version of events is more likely to be preferred by a Court.
Establishing whether the injury was reasonably foreseeable and therefore preventable is also important, as is showing that the location was somewhere a child would be likely to trespass and that there was something that attracted the child.
Standard warnings such as ‘No Entry’ signs or barbed wire fencing cannot be classed as adequate security to deter a child. The greater the danger, the more effective any security and safety measures must be.
The 1984 Act still allows a defence of ‘volenti non fit injuria’ which means that if someone willingly places themselves in a position where they know there is a risk of harm, they will not be able to bring a claim if they suffer harm.
While it's true that children don’t perceive dangers as adults do, whether you have a case would also crucially depend on the age of your child and their understanding of the risks involved in their actions. The maturity of a teenager for example may reasonably be assumed to be far greater than that of a five year old child.
If your team at Access Legal can prove all of the above, it's likely that you will have a good case and an accident while trespassing claim will be successful.
more about accidents whilst trespassing
The law which determines whether your child is entitled to make a claim if they are injured whilst trespassing is the Occupier’s Liability Act 1984. The 1984 Act was introduced to provide protection for child trespassers in particular who were not covered by the original 1957 Act. The 1984 Act states that any trespasser is owed a duty of care. Occupiers are obliged to offer some sort of protection to those who may, or are likely to, trespass.
That includes taking steps to warn of danger or implement security measures to reduce the risk of trespass and injury, but for youngsters still learning to read such warnings should be presented in a way that the child will understand. There is a possibility that these measures may in themselves magnify the risk to children by acting as an ‘allurement’ rather than a deterrent.
Anything that could intrigue a child and encourage them to trespass, from really interesting looking machinery to attractive plants that turn out to be poisonous, is an ‘allurement’. Essentially, the greater the danger and the greater the likelihood of a child trespassing, the greater is the duty of care owed by the operator or landowner towards that trespassing child.
If the occupier fails to abide by those duties of care laid out in trespassing laws and an accident occurs on their premises, you should contact our team at Access Legal. Your injured child, even though technically trespassing, may have a case for claiming a pay-out award.
'You need to have a legal team who are caring, who you absolutely trust and who will tell you the truth. Certainly from our point of view Denise Stephens from Access Legal has been absolutely amazing.'
Our expert lawyers at Access Legal are very familiar with cases of child injury while trespassing. We'll investigate your case and fight to get the help your youngster needs as quickly as possible.Why Access Legal