Personal Injury Claims and Liability: Accidents at School
School-related injuries in children are inevitable and common.
More than 56 million children in the United States spend a good portion of each day either in school or on school property. The chances for the school’s liability is therefore vast as according to a study, it is estimated that about 19% of injuries suffered by children up to 17 years of age occur at school.
The types that happen are broad. In examining the responsibility for the injuries, the burden of the proof often falls in the area of establishing negligent supervision or failure to maintain safe surroundings.
Read on to find out how you can determine who is responsible for your child being injured while at school.
The percentage of emergency room visits that stem from using school playground equipment is high – 61% in 2008 alone. Even with upgrades and changes in the design and safety features of equipment, the rate of injury remains consistent, and will always be a source of possible claims. In the case of outright equipment failure, the direction of determining the liability is more clear.
However, there is also the issue of allowing the actual area of the activity to be compromised and contributing to the hazard. The controversial IL Supreme Court Case Sidwell v. Griggsville Community School District, 1991 attempted to hold the school district liable for the plaintiff’s injuries after falling into a rut that had formed on the playground. In this case, determining if there was negligence on the part of the supervising teacher versus that of the entire school district was critical.
If you feel that injury has occurred due to any of these reasons, there may be cause to pursue a personal injury claim.
In secondary schools, the type of injuries are predominantly those occurring in sporting activities. Whether in physical education classes or organized sports activities, annually there are more than 3.5 million children under 14 who get hurt.
Similarly, the CT case of Donna Andreozzi PPA Nicholas Andreozzi v. Town of East Haven et al., 2015 involved the plaintiff striking a metal bench while jogging on a school track for cross-country track practice. Both the coach and the school district were sued, alleging negligence and failure to provide a safe environment.
The deciding factor in this case hinged on the activity being voluntary and after school. However, if the injury in question occurred during school, the liability of the school would indeed be worthy of pursuit.
The CDC reports that in 2015, 7.8% of senior high students reported being in a physical fight on school property in the past year. Bullying, actual contact, and threatening can cause both physical and emotional injury.
Physical injuries on school grounds can be severe enough to warrant an emergency room visit, and other threatening behavior can lead to depression, anxiety or emotional disturbances. Again, determining the school’s liability and involvement in the case is critical.
In 2018, the Bangor, PA school district settled out of court in a case involving systematic bullying of a student who was eventually hospitalized after a suicide threat. The student, who had endured bullying by other students over a 5-year period, had reported the situation to school authorities. The lawsuit alleged that the school failed to prevent a hostile school environment.
Although the school had policies in place to address bullying, the plaintiffs alleged that the school failed to investigate when told of the incidents. Although the case was settled with the district admitting no responsibility, the district and their insurance company agreed to pay the plaintiffs $45,000.
If you are the victim of bullying that has resulted in either lasting physical or mental damage, the school district may be negligent and liable for damages.
In all these cases, there was enough evidence of either negligence of supervision or neglect of maintenance to warrant the matter being pursued in court. If your child has been the victim of physical or emotional injury at school, it is best to consult an attorney who is experienced in personal injury claims. Obtaining the right sort of advice and counsel can help you deal with the damage and bills in the most effective way possible.