What Happens If My Child Gets Injured at School?
Every time you take your child to school, the school consents by an implied agreement to take on your responsibilities as a parent while the child is in their care. That responsibility goes beyond educating the child and includes providing a safe environment for the child. Even though most schools in the US fully understand that responsibility, unfortunately accidents can still occur and could result in serious injuries or even death when they do. Whether we realize it or not, child injuries at school are reported much more often than we think and while kids are more likely to get themselves into dangerous or potentially dangerous situations it is important to be able to identify when the school itself is the one to be held liable.
Ultimately, kids will be kids; accordingly, the occurrence of accidents is more a matter of “when” than “if.” According to the North Carolina Department of Insurance as well as studies in other states, more than four-million child injuries are reported across the states every year. At least 25% of those injuries occur while the children are either within school property or participating in school activities.
As a parent, your child’s safety is of the utmost importance to you, yet the last thing on your mind is the potential for a school-related injury involving your child. When the unthinkable happens, many parents wonder if contacting a school injury lawyer is a good idea and how a claim can be filed. If you ever find yourself in that situation, it’s important to understand how to obtain compensation for your child’s pain, suffering, and medical bills.
Intent vs. Negligence
Liability following an injury at school can be established along two lines—intent and negligence.
Accidents caused intentionally can be assigned to both adults and kids alike. For instance, if your child was injured while being bullied in school, then the injury was intentional, and you could hold the parents of the child liable and file a lawsuit against the parents of the bully for compensation. Adult-inflicted injuries may include those inflicted by the teachers through some form of physical abuse, such as corporal punishment. In such cases, the teacher or adult involved in the accident and the school or school district itself can be held liable.
Accidents and injuries are considered negligent if they occurred because the school failed to provide the accepted standard of care while the child was with them. It should be noted that the boundary between injuries caused by negligence and intentional injuries is blurry, and you would need an experienced injury attorney to tell you which way to go. For instance, in the bullying example above, you can sue more than just the bully’s parent. You can also sue the school for negligence if they had reason to know about the bullying but did nothing to stop it.
The same goes for an adult who inflicted intentional injury on the child. In addition to suing the adult, you can also sue the school or school district for negligence because they may have failed to carry out thorough background checks or to provide adequate training and supervision.
Public vs. Private Schools
If you decide to sue the school your child goes to, then you must first consider whether the school is public or private. Public schools belong to the government, and suing them is very difficult unless you have an experienced attorney as you are essentially going up against the government, and many government-owned entities enjoy what is known as Sovereign Immunity. This essentially means that the state cannot commit a legal wrong and is therefore immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution. Private schools are privately owned establishments that can be seen as any other business, such as a hotel, restaurant, day-care center, etc. Filing a lawsuit against a privately owned business is a completely different can of worms, one that could result in a positive outcome for injured children and their families. Each case is different and most likely will require research by an experienced child injury lawyer.
Contacting a Child Injury Lawyer
If your child has fallen victim to an accident or injury at school, we recommend that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. For over 20 years our Miami injury law firm has investigated hundreds of negligence cases, and we are experienced in holding organizations responsible for damages caused by such negligence. Contact our Miami injury law firm today by phone at 305-441-0440, or toll-free at 1-866-597-4529. You can also reach us by email at [email protected], and we are always available via Skype or FaceTime.