Groups » Is Your Child Injured at School? Here is What You Can Do

Darlene Echevarria sued the Pinellas County School District after her daughter was injured at Dunedin Highland Middle School while jumping hurdles in physical education class. She filed the case with help of one of Tampa’s personal injury lawyer and claimed $200,000 in damages.

People send their children to school with the expectation that they will be taken care of and will be safe when away from parents and loved ones. However, a number of accidents are reported every year that involve accidents in schools. The most common types of accidents that happen at school are:

  • Slip and fall

  • Injuries due to defective equipment

  • Accidents involving doors

  • Sports injuries

  • Food poisoning

  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals

  • Playground injuries

  • School bus and school transportation-related accidents and others

What would you do if your child returns home with bruises and cuts, or falls sick at school? It is important that you inspect the case carefully (with help from a lawyer) and check whether or not you are eligible to file a case against the school or district. Remember, schools have a duty of care; hence, they might be liable for the injuries to your child.

Can You Sue the School for Your Child’s Injuries?

Suing a school district can be difficult, as most governmental agencies are protected under “sovereign immunity.” Because a public school district is an agency of the local municipal government, it may be difficult to file a case against the school district. Moreover, the statutes of limitations in most states are very short (typically six months to two years) when it comes to filing a case for personal injury caused in a governmental agency.

However, there are a few circumstances under which a governmental agency can be sued. It will be easier if you can prove ‘gross negligence’ against the agency. Hence, legal counsel is a must if you need to sue a school for your child’s injuries.

Proving Liability in School-Related Injuries

It can be difficult to determine who was responsible if your child got injured at school or while involved in school activities. This is because liabilities can vary depending on the circumstances and specific facts related to the accident. Hence, the first thing that needs to be determined is whether or not the act was intentional or negligent.

In order to prove this, here are a few things to consider:

  • Whether the school took necessary steps to prevent accidents, such as slip-and-falls.

  • Whether the teachers are vigilant about bullying, or whether the teachers or specific administrators knew about a bullying case but failed to take action.

  • Whether the school employs trained school bus drivers.

  • Whether the school cafeteria employees are trained in food safety.

  • Whether the gym teacher takes enough precautions to prevent injuries, and so on.

These are some of the negligent behaviors that can make the school liable for a child’s injuries. There may be many other instances when the school might be considered liable. An experienced lawyer will help you assess the incident and determine the kind of negligence that led to the injuries.

Hiring a Lawyer for Filing a Case Against a School District

It is important to hire an experienced lawyer when suing a school district. This is because private and public schools may not be sued in the same manner, and they are treated differently by state and federal laws.

In states such as Florida, you need a presuit notification before suing a school district. This means you need to prepare a ‘Notice of Intent to Sue,’ wherein you, as the plaintiff, disclose the intent of filing a lawsuit against the governmental agency (the school district). You may be required to provide other information along with the presuit notification. The state law may also limit judgment amounts. A lawyer will be able to help you determine the maximum claim amount and file a case that will yield the desired damages.

Remember, the facts surrounding the incident are important if you want to make a claim; hence, make sure you maintain a record of details such as when the accident happened, how the school responded, what might have caused the accident, and so on.

Numerous cases of school-related injuries are reported every year, but they often go overlooked, as it is tough to sue a governmental agency. With the right legal assistance and proper planning, however, you may be able to sue a school and recover damages. But, the state law may require you to undergo mediation or arbitration to resolve the dispute.

The course of action for private and public schools will be different; consider hiring an experienced lawyer who can provide you with the required advice and guide you through the complex laws.

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