Legal Options When Your Child Is Injured At School
Throughout the United States, children are injured while in school or while participating in school-related activities.
Schools and their respective staff have a duty to supervise the children under their care. Furthermore, they have a duty to maintain a reasonably safe educational environment for children.
Unfortunately, carelessness and negligence by teachers, teacher’s aides, administrators, coaches, maintenance workers, and other school employees have led to a child injured at school.
Parents and caregivers rely on public and private schools to watch over their children.
Schools are not responsible for every injury or problem that arises. However, their employees, agents, and even volunteers are responsible for injuries to children caused by negligence.
What is Negligent Supervision?
Negligent supervision in the setting of a school typically requires the following elements.
1. The existence of a teacher-student OR school-student relationship giving rise to a legal duty to supervise the child.
2. Negligent breach of that duty (failure to act reasonably under the circumstances); and
3. Causation of the child’s injury by the teacher’s or school employee’s negligence.
In addition, each case should be evaluated based on its own facts and an analysis of the applicable State laws and regulations on point.
We know that the safety, welfare, and health of the child are all important.
So, parents of an injured child can greatly benefit by educating themselves of their rights and the school’s responsibilities under the law.
Typically, a child injury lawyer or child advocate will want to know the following details as to an injury that takes place at school or during a school sponsored event or activity:
- What was the date of the incident?
- Where did the incident take place (City, County, State, and School)?
- Was there inaction or action of the school and its employee that led to the injuries?
- What could the school have done prior to the incident that would have avoided the incident?
- Were there statements by teachers or administrative staff of the school about the incident?
- The type of injuries the child sustained as a result of the incident?
- Were there any witnesses to the incident?
With an injury at a school, there are various ways for a parent to handle the matter.
The parent may choose to pursue just one of these ways or all of them. It will depend on the facts, circumstances, applicable laws, and practical factors associated with the incident.
A parent can address the incident with the teacher directly. For minor injuries or incidents, the focus should be the future safety of the child.
For instance, it may be enough for the parent to know that the matter has been addressed and that future actions will be taken to prevent additional injuries and incidents.
Typically, the teacher has no power or authority to provide compensation or restitution for the injuries to the child. However, they can take action to prevent future injuries and incidents.
If it appears that the teacher will not take action or refuses to recognize the seriousness of the matter, a parent can report and address the matter with the school principal or assistant principal.
Typically, the school principal has no power or authority to provide compensation or restitution for the injuries to the child, but the school principal can take action to prevent future injuries and incidents.
If it appears that neither the teacher nor the internal administration will take action, a parent may decide to report and address the matter with the school board.
Typically, an administrative complaint by a parent does not result in the award of compensation to the injured child.
If the child’s injury resulted from the intentional or reckless conduct of another student or school employee, the police and State Attorney / District Attorney may become involved by investigating and prosecuting the incident as a criminal matter.
Through a criminal proceeding, restitution (compensation) can be awarded for out-of-pocket medical bills and related expenses. However, restitution typically does not involve compensation for pain and suffering.
Civil Proceedings – Claims – Lawsuits
Because of the complexities of the law applicable to child injuries and schools, it is advisable to have legal representation when pursuing a civil case or claim for compensation.
Many States require formal notice to a public school. However, there are many circumstances in which a public school or entity will claim immunity if the facts and legal basis of the claim are not alleged in a certain manner.
Furthermore, schools, whether public or private, typically have a risk management department and attorneys in place for injury claims.
Parents are typically at a disadvantage when dealing directly with risk management and the attorneys.
Through a civil claim or lawsuit, all awardable damages under the law can be pursued which can include medical bills (past and future), pain and suffering, loss of support and services of the child, and loss of enjoyment of life.
What Can You Do?
So, if your child has suffered a personal injury as the result of another person’s negligence and are concerned about the long-term emotional and financial consequences, you need to consult with a skilled personal injury attorney to learn about all of your options.
Our Jacksonville personal injury law firm will work to protect your legal rights. We will pursue rightful compensation for:
- – long term medical bills.
- – wage loss.
- – disfigurement.
- – pain and suffering.
- – emotional distress.
- – mental anguish.
- – lost enjoyment of life.