If your child is injured on a school trip, it's understandable that you will seek compensation from the liable parties, which may include the institution. However, the contribution of your child to the accident may limit how much compensation you receive. This is known as the principle of contributory negligence. Here are some of the factors that determine how much the child contributed to his or her injuries:
Age of the Victim
A child's mental capabilities differ from the mental capabilities of an adult. The younger the child is, the more immature his or her mental development is. Some courts have presumptions about children's capabilities at particular ages, and this is what they use in contributory negligence cases.
For example, if a four-year-old child on a school trip runs ahead of other students and get knocked by a vehicle, then he or she may not be deemed to have contributed to the accident. This is because he or she may not have the mental capability of knowing the danger posed by automobiles. However, the same cannot be said of a seventeen-year-old teen whose mental development should be capable of understanding such things.
Experience and Knowledge of the Victim
It's not just the physical age of the child that matters; even his or her experience and knowledge will also come into consideration. For example, a fourth grader on his or her first school trip may not have the same experience of identifying and avoiding dangers as another first grader who has been on several trips. Perhaps the less experienced student was home schooled for the first few years of his or her school life while the experienced one was getting involved in school activities. Maybe the experienced one is even a member or leader of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. You can't compare these two children when it comes to proper behavior while on a field trip.
Physical Facts on the Ground
It's not just the age of the child that matters; the courts will also be interested in the physical environment around the accident scene. This is to ascertain whether any of these physical facts could have contributed to the accident.
For example, noticing an oncoming car in a snowfall is more difficult than doing the same when the weather is perfect. This means a child who gets knocked down by a car when the visibility is good may be viewed to have contributed more to his or her injuries than a child who sustains similar injuries in inclement weather.
Be sure that the school, through its lawyers, will do everything possible to cast as much blame on your child as possible. They don't do this because of malice, but they do to lessen their liability and guard their reputation. That doesn't help you in any way, however, and you need the assistance of an experienced injury attorney (such as one from The Gil Law Firm) to help your child get the compensation he or she deserves.