Swimming Pool Drowning Compensation To Child
This is a tragic case that involved a 10 year old child pupil at a Junior School where the local Council was responsible for the child’s education and welfare. As part of the national curriculum at the time, it included physical training which included various sports that incorporated swimming lessons.
A teacher of the School attended the swimming lesson and at the pool there was a lifeguard and a swimming instructor. The child pupil was with the swimming instructor at the time of the drowning (not the school teacher) when the child got into difficulties.
The child was resuscitated but suffered serious hypoxic brain damage to child.. The parents of the child took the School to court for negligence and compensation for the life changing injuries the child sustained. The Court, after considering witness statements from all concerned including the children found that the child injuries could have been avoided and thus blame found in the child’s favour.
However, the swimming instructor and the lifeguard were not employed by the Council. The School’s contract was with an independent company who had a contract with the School to provide the swimming services. The question the Supreme Court had to consider was who would pay the child injury compensation for the drowning?
Can the Child/Parents Sue the School?
This was an interesting question the Court had to consider as the independent company provided the service not the school’s teacher. The full judgement of the case can be found by clicking on this link: Woodland v Essex County Council and in a recent decision Woodland v Essex County Council (2015). Therefore should any claim for compensation be made against the School rather than the independent company. Does it make any difference?
The Non-Delegable Duty of Care
In simple terms, the solicitors for the School argued that the School should not be to blame because they did not provide the swimming lessons and therefore the care was with the independent company. The responsibility for the welfare for the children at their swimming lesson was no longer with them. However the Court found that the School (Local Authority) could not delegate their duties and responsibilities to an independent company. Their duty was “non-delegable” and could not be transferred even though they paid for the swimming lessons for the children with a specialists independent company.
Medical Evidence Produced In Court
In support of the Child’s claim by the Solicitor, a specialist Doctor’s report was obtained and in that report the expert said:
“injuries were the consequences of a near drowning episode, and the probability is that if she had been spotted
and rescued earlier, she would not have suffered the injury that she did”.
The evidence was such that this indicated that there may have been failings on behalf of the independent company and life guard for failing to keep the children under observation when in the water and failed in good time to rescue the child. Whilst the issue about who was responsible to pay the compensation is a matter of legal and complex arguments, the end result was that both were liable. If the School was to blame, their Solicitors would no dobut in turn sue the Company for their failings. However to the family, whilst compensation would help re-build and care for the child, getting to the truth can be more important as those who failed should be held accountable.
Contact the Child Injury Compensation Solicitors
Regrettably deaths and serious brain injury can happen following a child drowning in a swimming pool. The legal issues can be complex We are expert child injury solicitors undertaking life changing injuries and fatal accident compensation claims. We will handle every claim with compassion and efficiency so that the truth is revealed and those responsible exposed. By taking a compensation claim, it is more likely than not, that lessons will be learnt, new safety procedures adopted so that no other tragic swimming accident happens.