Following a long legal battle, a woman who almost drowned during a school swimming lesson when she was ten years old has won the right to a multi-million-pound compensation settlement after a judge ruled that negligence on the part of her teacher and the lifeguard who was on duty at the time was the cause of her lifelong injuries.

The woman was a primary school pupil when she attended the swimming lesson at the local swimming pool in July 2000. Neither her teacher nor the lifeguard noticed when she got into difficulties. By the time they realised something was wrong, it was too late to save her from oxygen starvation and brain damage. The High Court found that they had not been as attentive as they should have been. The teacher had fallen far below the standard of care reasonably to be expected and the lifeguard had failed in her duty to keep the pool under constant observation.

The woman’s personal injury claim raised important issues relating to the legal duties owed by teachers and others towards children during educational trips, and her legal team pursued her case through a number of hearings, including before the Supreme Court, before finally achieving success.

The amount of the woman’s compensation award has yet to be assessed, but it is likely to be worth several million pounds, given the extent of her permanent disabilities. The compensation will be payable by the local authority, which managed the school she attended and which bore indirect responsibility for the negligence of the teacher and the lifeguard.

Parents have a reasonable expectation that their children will be safe under the supervision of their teachers, who act ‘in loco parentis’. If your child has been injured whilst under the responsibility of a teacher, either at school or during a school-organised activity, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team for advice.