A legal expert has warned that a landmark ruling could open the floodgates to negligence claims against schools and councils.
The Supreme Court ruled that a woman, who nearly drowned during a school swimming lesson 13 years ago, can pursue compensation from a local education authority, paving the way for future claims.
Miss Woodland, now in her 20s, was pulled from the water at a council-owned swimming pool but suffered severe brain damage. The family has been unsuccessful with damages claims with judges blocking action against the county council.
The Courts ruled that it would not be reasonable to impose the non-delegable duty of a child upon the council authority. However, a new argument has suggested that the school should carry out a duty of care covering all mainstream activities which should apply even when third parties are in charge.
Now, Supreme Court justices in London granted the appeal against previous findings, meaning there will now be a High Court hearing to determine whether or not she was the victim of negligence.
Personal injury expert and head of clinical negligence at Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall, Pam Roberts, commented: “We have followed this with great interest as the family of Miss Woodland continues to fight for damages.
“This is positive news for parents whose children have been severely injured in similar circumstances.
“As a parent, you should have the confidence to entrust schools with the supervision of your child, the last thing you expect is that something so terrible could happen while under the school’s care.”
Some senior judges have noted that the ruling could mean that local education authorities could become over-cautious when it comes to school trips and swimming lessons.
The ruling could also have wider implications if it is to be applied to those charged with looking after vulnerable individuals in hospitals and care homes.
Pam continued: “While I don’t think this ruling will mean all authorities using contractors could be taken to court, it is a development in the law and could help to bring justice to many more victims of negligence.
“This area of law is often extremely complicated; anyone who believes they may have a claim should contact us to gain advice from a specialist negligence lawyer.”
For further information contact Pam Roberts at by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org