A recent case has paved the way for claims to be made against foster carers in England and Wales. The case of Woodland v Essex County Council, in the court last month, found an education authority liable for the actions of an independent contractor – in this case a swimming instructor and lifeguard contracted to deliver swimming lessons to schoolchildren. Despite the fact that the contractors were not directly employed by the local authority, the local authority were found to be responsible for the duty of care of the children, one of whom tragically suffered a brain injury during a lesson.
The Woodland case was not an abuse case but held that the Council had a non delegable duty to children in certain areas. This development in the law is of particular interest to myself as a solicitor dealing with abuse claims as we regularly receive enquiries from people who have been abused by foster carers. In the past, we have been unable to pursue Councils for compensation under these circumstances as foster carers are not employees of the council, but rather act as ‘contractors’.
There are strong parallels between this case and children who are looked after by means of foster care and as such, specialists in child abuse law are now contending that same non delegable duty extends; allowing children who have suffered abuse at the hands of foster parents to pursue compensation claims.
If you have been abused or suffered any damage as a result of the negligence of a foster carer you now have a much stronger potential action against the Council that placed you with that foster carer.
To speak to one of our specialist lawyers about your options regarding pursuing a claim for abuse by a foster carer, please get in touch.