Lawyers representing the families of 20 schoolchildren injured in a fatal coach crash on a French motorway have launched a claim for damages.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell said it had issued proceedings at the High Court in Birmingham on behalf of pupils and two of their teachers from Alvechurch Middle School in north Worcestershire.

Around 30 people were injured and teacher Peter Rippington, 59, was killed when a coach returning from a skiing trip left the A26 and rolled on to its side near Chalons-en-Champagne, in eastern France, in February.

Clive Garner, head of group actions at Irwin Mitchell, is also representing two ski instructors who were hurt in the crash.

Confirming that damages were being sought from a company which organised the trip, Mr Garner said the tragedy had changed the lives of many of the school children and adults forever.

Mr Garner added that many of his clients wanted to know why the coach came to leave the road, and whether the incident could and should have been avoided.

He said: “As well as assisting our clients to recover the full and fair settlements that they are entitled to and which will help them to start to rebuild their lives, for those with the most serious injuries, damages will provide them with the financial security, treatment and therapies they need both now and in the future.

“Like their legal team, they want lessons to be learned so that in the future others do not need to go through the suffering they have had to endure and will continue to endure in the coming months and years ahead.”

Passengers on the coach suffered multiple injuries, including spinal and limb fractures, lacerations and dental injuries, and some are still unable to walk nine months later, Irwin Mitchell said.