Who Is Liable If My Child Suffers an Injury at School?
Posted in Personal Injury on August 13, 2018
Kids get cuts, scrapes, and bruises just from being kids. They play rough, fall down, and have accidents. Some injuries unfortunately occur due to maliciousness or negligence. When this occurs, parents have the right to seek legal action against the responsible parties. It’s vital for parents to know their rights and how to handle a school injury. Parents of an injured child can secure compensation for their child’s medical expenses, physical pain, and emotional suffering resulting from school negligence, bullying, or after-school activities.
When another child hurts your child, your first instinct is probably to confront the other child’s parents. In most situations, this can be the correct course of action. A meeting of the families to discuss the bullying behaviors and how to put a stop to them is often constructive for everyone involved. However, this isn’t always a viable option. If another child seriously injures your child intentionally, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the bully’s parents.
Unfortunately, many cases of bullying are long-term, and go unaddressed because victims feel intimidated about speaking out, or fear reprisals for “snitching.” It’s crucial for schools to take bullying seriously. If your child suffered a long-term period of abuse at the hands of a classmate or classmates and the school did nothing, you may have the option of taking legal action against the school for enabling the abusive behavior to continue.
Most parents have to sign waivers for their children to participate in school sports and other after-school activities. While these waivers generally act as liability release forms, they rarely hold up in court. This is especially true if negligence causes an injury. While a child and parent may assume some degree of risk by agreeing to participate in contact sports like football and ice hockey, the coaches and staff responsible for instructing and supervising the players have a responsibility to prevent injuries and act responsibly at all times. If a coach fails to properly supervise players or encourages players to engage in dangerous exercises or drills, the coach and the school could be liable for the resulting damages.
Public vs. Private Schools
It’s also important to know the differences between filing legal action against a public school compared to filing against a private school. Public schools fall under governmental jurisdiction, so filing a claim against a public school is much more difficult than filing one against a privately-controlled establishment. A parent can file a lawsuit against a private school for failing to provide a safe environment or failing to reasonably protect students from injuries.
Parents of injured kids need to carefully determine liability for the best chance of securing compensation for a child’s injuries and other damages. In some cases, the school will absorb liability if the school failed to meet their obligations in regard to student safety. For example, if a school fails to fix a sinkhole on an athletic field and a child trips and breaks his ankle, the school would be liable for the injury. If another child pushes your child down and breaks a bone, the aggressor’s parents would face liability for the injury. However, if your child complained to the school about prior incidents of bullying but the school did not take action, you may have grounds for legal action against both the school and the bully’s parents.
Your best resource for information about an injury at school is a reliable Atlanta personal injury lawyer. Connect with a lawyer who has a proven track record of successful school injury cases and discuss your situation. Your lawyer will help you determine if a school, third party, or multiple parties are liable for your child’s damages.