Who's at fault when a child is hit by a car?

Taxi and cars on the road

All drivers are taught to take special care for vulnerable road users. Pedestrians are specifically classed as vulnerable road users and this means there is a high duty of care on drivers to avoid hitting pedestrians.

Children are especially vulnerable, and may not have the same sense of self-preservation that adults do. They may not be able to assess vehicle speed as readily, and all drivers must be on heightened alert when there is a risk of children near the road.

Drivers should be looking for signs that there are children in the area

Is there a school near by? Have there been other children in the area? Where there’s one, there may be another! A car is a potentially lethal weapon, and drivers must always take care not to injure others.

Sometimes, accidents involving children are just that - accidents. Even the most careful driver may struggle to avoid an accident where, for example, a small child has run into the side of a slow moving car where the driver would not have expected them, or where the child would not have been visible prior to the accident.

Is the driver liable if a child steps out in front of a vehicle?

However, in other cases, there may be liability. In the case of Ehrari v Curry, a 13 year old girl was hit by a lorry after stepping out between parked cars. The lorry driver knew there were children in the area, and knew that children used the point where the girl was hit as a crossing point. He had a vantage point from his cab, but failed to pay attention. The court found that had he looked for children crossing there, the girl would have been visible, and he could have avoided hitting her. The girl was found partially to blame. As an older child, the court felt she ought to have had a greater degree of road safety awareness.

The case of Honnor v Lewis was decided after an 11 year old boy was severely injured after trying unsuccessfully to cross a busy road. He had been waiting to cross, but simply failed to see the oncoming car. The driver of the car hadn’t noticed him standing at the roadside waiting to cross, or starting to cross. The court held that the driver could reasonably have slowed down or even sounded his horn when it was clear that the boy hadn’t seen him. The driver was found to be 80% at fault for the accident.

In a previous case, our Kirkcaldy solicitors were able to successfully help the young child claim against the driver’s insurance company. His mother, brought the claim on his behalf, recovered compensation for the child’s injuries, the cost of the private medical treatment, the cost of travelling to and from the various medical appointments, and the damage to the child’s clothing and toys.

Every case depends on its own circumstances, and it is important to seek legal advice from specialist solicitors to find out where you stand legally.