Before looking at the question of whether an injury to a child under someone’s care can constitute abuse it is useful to look at how abuse itself can be defined.

The NSPCC describes child abuse as happening when an adult inflicts harm on a child or young person, even, in some cases, if the adult’s actions are not deliberate.

The NSPCC considers that abuse can fall into any of four broad categories;

a. Physical abuse
b. Sexual abuse
c. Neglect
d. Emotional abuse

To establish whether an injury is caused by abuse it is necessary to look at how the injury arose. Emotional, physical and sexual abuse to some extent requires a level of intention on the part of the abuser. They are forms of abuse that arise from the causing of deliberate harm to a child or young person. Neglect is often a more difficult concept to define but may arise if there is a persistent failure to meet the physical and/or psychological needs of a child or a young person such that this leads to damaging their health or development.

An injury caused to a child as a consequence of a genuine accident may not in principle be considered abuse but may give rise to liability for other forms of civil legal action such as for negligence.

However where there is a deliberate effort on the part of the abuser to hurt or injure a child then this may give rise to a claim based on allegations of abuse. Context and circumstances are important factors in looking at how a compensation claim could be advanced. Not all injuries that a child or indeed anyone may suffer will give rise to a legal liability, but certainly where the injury arises as a result of actions that can be defined as abuse then, in principle, a legal claim for compensation may be made.

For anyone who has suffered the effects of abuse it is always wise to seek advice and guidance from a legal practitioner with experience in the area to give guidance on the possible options that may be open to you.


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