If you suffered abuse as a child in school or college – or your child has suffered abuse – the specialist team of solicitors at Jordans Solicitors can help provide information on how to make a claim.
When a teacher, teaching assistant, a non-teaching member of staff or sub-contractor working on school grounds abuses their position of trust and commits an act of assault, a child abuse claim may be possible.
The abuse can take the form of sexual or physical abuse and can be suffered by a pupil of any age – from a child attending pre-school, infant or junior school to a student attending college or a residential school.
We represent clients across Yorkshire who have suffered abuse at:
- Local authority schools
- Private fee paying schools
- Residential schools
- Faith schools such as Catholic or Church of England Schools.
How do I make a claim?
The specialist child abuse lawyers at Jordans can support and guide you through the claims process and provide advice on the law relating to abuse in schools and institutional abuse.
Who do you claim against?
If the abuse takes place by a staff member in the course of their employment a court is likely to find the local authority or governors of the school to be responsible for the sexual or physical abuse.
Sometimes the abuse is by another pupil of the school. In these circumstances, the local authority or governors of the school can be found to be responsible for the abuse, if it can be proven they were negligent by failing to train their staff and/or adequately safeguarding the pupil.
Reporting abuse to the police
We would advise reporting what has happened to you or your child to the police. While we understand this may be daunting, it does help in obtaining the evidence needed to make an abuse claim against a school or college.
It may also lead to more people coming forward who have suffered similar abuse at the same institution.
A specialist child abuse lawyer will then investigate your claim and gather supportive evidence.
Locating and speaking to other survivors who have reported abuse by the same individual or school or college will be a key part of the investigation. The more people who disclose similar accounts of abuse the greater the prospect of persuading a court that abuse has occurred.
At the end of the investigation, your lawyer will advise you on the merits of the case and how best to proceed.
In our experience, the majority of sexual and physical abuse cases settle out of court. We would push for an out of court settlement when it is in your interests to do so.
However, it’s important that you’re aware you may be required to give evidence at court. We would make sure that you are fully supported throughout every step of the legal process.
Historic claims for abuse at schools
To bring a historic claim for abuse to court, it’s necessary to prove that it’s possible for a fair trial to proceed if the claim is being pursued outside of the usual time period.
It’s not an automatic right to bring a sexual abuse claim against a school in these circumstances. This is why it’s important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible as any further delay could affect your prospects of being allowed to proceed by the court.
Claims for abuse suffered at schools or colleges can take a long time to conclude and it is not uncommon for them to continue for many years.
Abuse from a position of trust
Staff members are in a position of trust. Where a staff member abuses this trust and power, they have committed an act of abuse.
Where a member of staff is over the age of 18 and in a position of trust, it is an offence for them to have sexual activity with a pupil in full-time education who attends the same school or college where they work and is under the age of 18, even if the relationship is consensual. In these circumstances, a claim is possible.
Compensation for abuse in schools and colleges
The amount of compensation will depend on the extent of the injuries suffered and how the injuries have affected a person’s life.
While compensation can never change what has happened to you or your child, it can help to fund treatment costs and provide further education or financial security.
You are also able to claim for sexual abuse and physical abuse compensation for other losses such as loss of earnings or treatment costs, if these can be attributed to the abuse.
It does not matter how long ago your injuries related to child abuse were suffered, this does not affect the compensation you receive.
Support for claimants
At Jordans, we realise how difficult bringing a sexual abuse claim can be. While we are not qualified to provide counselling or psychological treatment, we do work closely with child abuse charities who can offer support to you throughout the claim and beyond.
We want to ensure that you or your child has the help that is needed for you to move on from this traumatic experience.
If you or your child has suffered abuse at school you can talk to one of our male or female specialist abuse Lawyers in absolute confidence on 0800 955 5094.
School and college abuse claims: FAQs
Could I be entitled to compensation?
If you have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse as a child whilst attending a school or college you could be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. If your child is under the age of 18 and has suffered abuse you can pursue a claim on their behalf.
Should I contact the Police to pursue a criminal case?
The civil claims process is to ask for compensation. It is not designed to punish the abuser, this is a matter for the criminal courts. We advise that you make a report to the Police as soon as possible. This will assist in obtaining evidence to support your claim. A conviction against the abuser will also help your civil claim.
How long will my claim take?
It can take many years for a civil claim to conclude and an ongoing police investigation can delay cases. Whether the Defendant admits responsibility or it is necessary to pursue your case to a Court hearing can impact on how long it takes for a case to settle.
Will I need to give evidence against by abuser in Court?
The vast amount of cases are settled out of Court but you should be prepared to give evidence about the abuse in Court if necessary. If you do need to attend at Court we will fully support you throughout the whole process.
How much compensation will I receive?
You will recover compensation for physical and psychological injuries that have been caused by the abuse. In addition you can claim for financial losses such as loss of earnings or treatment costs if these can be attributed to the abuse. It does not matter how long ago your injuries were suffered, this does not affect the compensation you receive. Compensation received for a child younger than 18 will be invested by the Court on their behalf.
How much will I be required to pay in legal costs?
We offer a no win no fee agreement, which means you do not have to pay any legal costs if your claim is not successful. We can advise you on the most appropriate funding option for you at the start of your claim.