If your child is injured at school, you likely have many questions and
concerns as a parent. Between addressing any immediate medical issues
and soothing your child’s fears, you may find yourself wondering
if there’s any recourse for parents in your position. While some
accidents are simply unavoidable, if your child was exposed to unsafe
conditions or staff negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim.
Playground accidents are even more common than you might realize –
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that nearly
80% of elementary school children end up visiting the school nurse for
injuries. This means that for most parents, it’s only a matter of
time before your child sustains some type of injury at school. So how
can you determine if said injuries are truly an accident, or if they were
caused by a lack of attentiveness or carelessness from staff or other students?
Here are some situations where the school district could be held liable
for your child’s injuries:
Your child was injured by a known bully. If your child was attacked by a bully at school, the liability rests primarily
with the other student. However, the school is legally responsible for
ensuring a safe environment for its learners. Failing to take proper disciplinary
action, or to prevent unsafe situations, can make the school district
liable for the harm your child suffered.
A school bus driver was involved in an accident. Regardless of who caused the accident, a school bus driver is responsible
for your child’s safety. If the bus driver acted in a negligent
or careless way, or otherwise allowed a
car accident to occur, you can hold the school district accountable.
A teacher failed to take the proper steps to resolve a problem. Teachers and staff members are obligated to take care of the children in
their charge. If there are consistent personality clashes or problems
amongst developing children, they must inform the parents and take action
to address the issue.
A school caretaker left hazards within reach of children. If your child slips and falls on a wet cafeteria floor, or sustains burns
in a classroom setting, it may mean a school official was negligent. All
cleaning materials and dangerous items should be safely out of a child’s reach.
What Are the Steps for Filing Your Lawsuit Against the School?
The steps to file a personal injury lawsuit vary depending on the school,
and the process can look radically different if it is a private or charter
school. But for the vast majority of American students, the school system
will be a public one. Because public schools are an extension of the government,
they are known as “political subdivisions,” and are technically
entitled to immunity from lawsuits. Thankfully, every state has removed
this immunity and will allow certain claims for compensation in personal
injury cases, which means you could potentially file a suit.
Navigating a lawsuit against a government entity can be tricky, so it’s
always best to consult with a qualified and experienced personal injury
attorney before pursuing a course of action. However, there are some general
things you might need to know about the process.
Some tips to keep in mind as you consider a personal injury claim:
You will likely need to file a “Notice of Claim.” This is a document that you will either submit to the school district
or to an appropriate government agency.
File your claim on time. Once your child has sustained an injury, you only have 60 to 90 days to
file your Notice of Claim before the statute of limitations expires. Waiting
too long could mean that you will later be prohibited from filing a lawsuit
against the school district in court.
Once your Notice of Claim has been filed, you must wait for the school
district to respond. It can be difficult, but it’s important to wait until the school
district denies the claim, or until 3-6 months pass without any action
on the part of the district. After the school district has responded,
you can begin the process of filing in court.
Has your child been injured while on campus or at a school-sponsored activity?
Get a free consultation from our Austin personal injury lawyer at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC today.