Seeking legal advice
We offer advice on any aspect of caring for a disabled child. In most cases it isn't necessary to seek legal advice to find the help you need. But sometimes it may be necessary to take legal action to put things right.
On this page we explain when it might be helpful to seek legal advice from a specialist solicitor. We also list some of the specialist solicitors we work with, and trust, who might be able to help.
How Contact can help
Our helpline advisers can explain your rights to local services, education, benefits and entitlements and tell you how you can challenge decisions you're not happy with. We may be able to tell you about local organisations that can support you to resolve your problem.
If you're looking for advice about housing, employment, claiming compensation for an accident or medical negligence or setting up a trust, call our helpline for information about national organisations that specialise in those areas.
Getting free legal advice
You may be entitled to free legal aid to help meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in court. Whether you are eligible for legal aid depends on your personal circumstances. A specialist solicitor will be able to advise you about this, or you could visit the government's legal aid webpage for more information.
If you are not eligible for legal aid, you may still be able to access free legal advice. We can put you in touch with solicitors that offer a free initial consultation and, where appropriate, may be able to work on a 'no win, no fee' agreement basis. This avoids added financial pressures to you at an already stressful time.
You may experience difficulties accessing services, such as short breaks or direct payments, or the local authority may try to withdraw or reduce a service. These decisions can normally be challenged using the local authority's complaints procedure or complaining to the Ombudsman, your local councillor or your MP.
You could seek advice from a solicitor about your options if you're still unhappy with the outcome of your complaint. It is important to note that you may have to go through the complaints procedure before starting legal action, although exceptions might be made if the removal of the service would put you or your child at risk.
Some families experience difficulty getting the right support for their child's special educational needs. Other issues include school and college transport, exclusions and disability discrimination.
We aim to give you the advice and information you need to help your disabled child get the education they are entitled to. It may be necessary to seek legal advice from specialists in some cases where this isn't happening. For example, if other complaints or appeal routes have not been successful, a solicitor might be able to help challenge decisions made by the local authority.
Alternatively, you could contact The Education Law association which has a list of law firms who offer specialist education advice.
If a child suffers a serious injury in an accident, even if you feel it may have been their fault, it may be possible for them to claim compensation. Compensation could help pay for private treatment, specialist equipment, adapted accommodation or support services to help meet the child's needs. This can give you the help and support you need for your family to thrive, as well as peace of mind that your child's needs will be provided for.
Sometimes doctors or healthcare providers make a mistake with regard to the care they provide to a patient, falling short of what could be reasonably expected from them. This is known as clinical negligence.
If your child has suffered a serious injury and you feel this may be due to clinical negligence, you may be able to claim compensation to fund private treatment, specialist equipment, adapted accommodation or support services. A claim for compensation can provide you and your family with peace of mind that your child's future care needs will be looked after and ensure you get all the support available to you.
Seeking an apology may also be important to you. Sometimes it is possible to obtain an apology as well as compensation by bringing a claim. Find out more about clinical negligence.
Law centres and legal clinics
Law centres offer legal advice, casework and representation to individuals and groups. They specialise in social welfare law, including welfare rights, disability rights, immigration and asylum, housing and homelessness, employment rights, community care, discrimination and debt. Law Centres are independent and operate on a not-for-profit basis. They are also accountable to their communities, with local people acting on their management committees.
If a local law centre cannot help or there is not a law centre in your area, our helpline can help suggest other options.
The LawWorks Clinics Network provides free initial advice on various areas of social welfare law including employment law, housing matters, consumer disputes, debt and welfare rights. The clinics are for people who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay for a lawyer.
- Visit the Citizens Advice Bureau to read more about seeking legal representation.
- Read about our services to find out how we can help you.
- Wherever you are in the UK, call our freephone helpline on 0808 808 3555 to speak to one of our parent advisors. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or post a query on our Facebook page.