According to the CDC, over 9.2 million child injuries occur every year, with some occurring in school. If your kid is injured in school, you may not be sure who is legally responsible. While some school accidents are inevitable, others are caused by negligence and unsafe conditions.
As a parent, it’s only natural to worry about your child’s safety when they are off to school. Every school injury case is different. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, many parties could be held legally responsible for your child’s injury.
Who Is Liable for a School Injury?
The first step to proving liability is to determine who is directly or indirectly responsible for the injury. A teacher, a school employee, or a student could be held liable. If a student bullies another student and a physical injury is inflicted, the offending child’s parents may be responsible for the injury.
The school can also be held liable if they were aware of the harassment but didn’t take the necessary steps to prevent it. Likewise, if a teacher intentionally causes physical injury to a child, the school district might be held responsible for not offering appropriate training, failing to conduct a proper background check or lack of supervision.
In both cases, the injury happened due to negligence. In some cases, however, your child’s injuries may be due to an accident.
The School’s Duty of Care
To ensure that children are protected and cared for when in school, the law has placed a legal duty of care to teachers and school admins. This obligation states that the school must take all reasonable steps to protect your child from foreseeable injury, death, or harm. The duty of care also includes providing a safe learning environment for the child.
The school administration should do all the necessary repairs and get rid of any dangers to ensure that the students are protected and well supervised when on school premises, on the school bus, and in school-related extracurricular activities such as trips.
Exclusions for School Liability
There are several instances where the school can’t be liable for a student’s injuries. The first one states that a school can’t be held responsible for injuries sustained on school premises outside of school hours or school events. It’s not the school’s responsibility to supervise the student’s outside of school hours. However, the school should also take steps to ensure that no students are left in school after-hours.
The second exception is when a student sustains injuries during school-organized sports activities. If a child falls during a basketball game, the school can’t be responsible for their injuries. This is because the student will assume the risks involved in these activities.
Public or Private School: Does It Matter?
Under state laws, a public school is considered a government body. Therefore, strict procedures must be followed when suing a public school for injuries. If you fail to follow these rules, you lose the right to claim compensation. However, if your child was injured in a private school, there are no special procedures or hurdles that would lead to the loss of compensation. You can file a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court.
What to Do if Your Child Was Injured at School
You could receive compensation for medical care and more benefits if your child was injured while in the care of a negligent adult or an institution e.g., schools. If your child comes home with an injury, it’s essential to talk to them first to understand what happened. You should also ask the school for an account of the accident. Ensure you seek medical attention to avoid any future complications.
If you suspect that the child was injured while being abused or bullied, or that their injuries were a result of negligence, consult an experienced attorney to assist with the investigation.