Our Experienced School Accident Attorneys Explain Some of the Basics You Need to Know About Students Injured in Accidents At School
When parents send their children to school every morning, they are entitled to expect that their children will be cared for in a safe and nurturing environment. When a student is injured because a school falls short of this reasonable expectation, the law permits a claim for damages. If your child was injured in a school accident, here are some important things you need to know.
What Obligations Does a School Have To Protect its Students?
Every year, over 200,000 children under the age of 14 seek emergency room care as a result of school accident related injuries. These injuries range from minor sprains to serious bone fractures that require surgery. School accidents can happen anywhere on school property: the playground, the stairwell, the hall, as well as in the classroom. The law imposes a responsibility on schools and their staff to exercise reasonable care to:
- Ensure a safe environment for children;
- Provide sufficient supervision; and
- Ensure teachers and caretakers have sufficient training.
If a school fails in any of these basic obligations, it may be held responsible for the damages that result.
There are two broad types of cases that account for most school related personal injury claims: (1) defects with school equipment or property; and (2) lack of adequate supervision of students. Schools, like every other property owner, have a basic legal obligation to keep the premies reasonably safe. This means that staircases, playgrounds and hallways must be free from potentially dangerous hazards. As a result, schools must regularly inspect the premises and make those repairs necessary to make it reasonably safe. Some common school property defects include:
- Broken steps and sidewalks;
- Loose handrails;
- Broken playground equipment;
- Malfunctioning doors; and
- Playground surfaces that are not properly padded with a “soft surface” designed to minimize injury when a students fall from equipment.
In addition to their responsibilities as a landowner, schools also have the important obligation to appropriately supervise its students. This obligation requires schools to protect students from the risk of being injured by each other. In fact, when a student is injured by another student, a school can be held responsible whether the injury was caused intentionally or by accident. For example, if a student is injured because he is assaulted by another student, the school may be held responsible if there is sufficient evidence to establish that the school knew of this potential danger and failed to protect the student from the aggressor.
Further, a school can also be held responsible if a student is accidentally injured by another student. For example, if a group of students are gathered and pushing each other at the top of a slide, and one student is accidentally pushed off and injured, the school can be held responsible provided that there is evidence to suggest that the accident could have been avoided had a teacher intervened to stop the children from pushing each other.
Are There Any Special Rules To File A Claim Against a School?
Some schools are operated by a municipality, like the Department of Education for the City of New York, others are not. This is important because claims against municipal defendants require the filing of a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the accident. If the school is privately run however, a Notice of Claim is not necessary. Additionally, the statute of limitations, or time to file a lawsuit, against a municipal defendant in much shorter than the time permitted for a private defendant.
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If you have any questions concerning an accident at school, contact our experienced personal injury attorneys for more information by email or by calling (800) 762-9300. You can also get started by simply filling out one of our case intake forms, and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.
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