You send your child to school every day with the implicit trust that they’ll be safe within those walls. When that trust is broken, it can be hard to know where to turn.
If your child was injured at school, there are a number of things to keep in mind as you work to receive the compensation you deserve. If you have any questions about the information below, you can always call Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys at 888.501.7888 for a free consultation.
Who Is Responsible for a Child’s Injuries at School?
Determining liability after a school injury can be complicated, due to the number of parties potentially involved, the type of injury, the circumstances leading up to the injury, and the number of possibly conflicting accounts of the event. However, most personal injury cases—also called torts—that happen at schools are one of two types.
Like their name implies, intentional torts result from intentional acts of harm. Many such instances in schools are the result of bullying between children. Tragically, however, teachers and other adults can also harm children through physical, mental, or even sexual abuse.
When a child is bullied by another child and hurt, the bully’s parents could be held liable for the injury depending on the circumstances. Other possibly liable parties to the suit can include the school, teachers, or staff, if they knew about the harassment and failed to stop it.
In the case of abuse at the hands of an adult, the school district could be held liable for a number of reasons, including failure to properly conduct a background check, failure to properly train employees, or failure to properly supervise adult-child interactions.
In contrast to intentional torts, negligence torts are caused by a school’s dereliction of their duty to keep their students safe. Schools are obligated to act as their students’ parents while under their care (in loco parentis), and thus must provide adequate food, shelter, transportation, and safety to the children in their care.
To determine whether a school can be held negligent in a child’s injury case, the court generally examines whether the school failed to follow accepted standards of care. If they did fail to follow these standards and a child was injured as a result, the school could be held liable for their negligence.
Complications with Public Schools
If your child goes to a public school, that school is considered a government entity under the law. As such, it can be much more complicated to bring a personal injury suit against a public school than against a private school, charter school, or individual. This can have a major impact on your case, so make sure to mention it to your lawyer during your initial consultation.
Common Causes of School Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that around 20,000 children suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) a year. Many of those head injuries are sustained at school, and many more as well. In fact, more than 9 million children go to the emergency room every year due to the following causes:
- Slips and falls are common at school due to a variety of factors: slippery floors, stairways, uneven sidewalk, wet or snow-covered ground, and children’s natural lack of coordination and tendency to run.
- Food poisoning caused by tainted food can happen if the cafeteria fails to properly store ingredients, allow the food to be contaminated, or otherwise neglect safety protocols.
- Injuries on the playground can be common due to children’s tendency to risky play, but some playground injuries are caused by inadequate adult supervision, poorly-maintained or broken playground equipment, or an unmaintained playground.
- Playing sports always comes with some risk of injury, but many sports injuries are caused by inadequate coaching or supervision, broken equipment, or other factors that are the school’s responsibility.
- Around 25% of children are involved in fights at some point in their academic careers, whether at school functions, on school grounds, or while en route to or from school on the bus. Liable parties for a child’s fight injury can include the school or its administration or staff, as well as the parents of the children involved.
- Toxic exposure from lead or asbestos in old school buildings in need of an update, or from cleaning chemicals, construction materials, or other toxins can lead to lasting harm for a growing child.
Common Injuries Suffered While at School
While every type of injury can occur at school, some are more common than others. Here are some of the most common types of injuries that children incur while at school:
- Abrasions, cuts, and bruises
- Strains and sprains
- Broken bones
- Head injuries, brain injury, and related trauma
- Neck injuries and back injuries
- Joint dislocations
- Food poisoning, toxin exposure, or illness
- Emotional or psychological injuries from bullying or other abuse
If your child has suffered any of these, or other injuries, while at school and you believe the school’s administration or staff is at fault, you should call a personal injury lawyer right away. Your child’s rights deserve to be protected, and you deserve compensation to help pay for the cost of their treatment.
What to Do After Your Child Is Injured
If your child has been injured at school and you have reason to believe the school is at fault, there are a number of key steps you need to take as soon as possible to support your case.
Seek Medical Attention
Taking your child to the doctor for treatment is important, not only to help them recover as quickly and as fully as possible, but to document the type and extent of their injuries. The diagnostic reports and other medical documentation from your pediatrician can provide vital evidence in your child’s personal injury suit.
Talk to the Administration and Others Involved
Talk to the school administration—teachers, principals, and other office workers in charge of your child’s safety at school. Ask if they’ve filed an incident report yet, and if they haven’t, insist that they do. You might have to show them paperwork from your doctor proving your child’s injuries.
If the injury was related to bullying, ask what the other child’s punishment is. Demand that the administration take your child’s case seriously—not having a clear bullying policy can be a sign of negligence.
Follow Proper Procedure
Because of the agency nature of public schools, protocol is supremely important when bringing a case against them. You might need to file a Notice of Claim within a certain time period, or deal with a different statute of limitations. Talk to an experienced lawyer for the answers to these questions and others you might have.
Talk to a School Injury Lawyer
When your child is injured, you could be worried for their well-being, angry at those responsible, and maybe dealing with other strong emotions as well. On top of that, you need to worry about their medical bills, your missed work to care for them, and more.
You and your family deserve answers for the negligence that led to your child’s injuries. Call Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys at 888.501.7888 for a free legal consultation and advice on your next steps. We’ve helped hundreds of personal injury victims in Louisiana find the compensation they need to begin to heal.