If a Student is Injured at School Who Pays?
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If a Student is Injured at School Who Pays?

If your child is injured on a school playground or during a sporting event, your first instinct will be to address their injuries as fast as possible. While their well-being should be your priority, it is understandable to also worry about how these medical bills are going to be paid.  

Regardless of how your child’s injuries occurred, it is vital that you discuss your options with a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. Pursuing an injury lawsuit or insurance claim against a school can be challenging, particularly against public schools. Let Ellis Injury Law review your situation and advise you on how best to proceed.  

When California schools are liable for student injuries 

In some ways, injury claims against a school are no different than any other. To be entitled to compensation or an insurance payout, you must first establish that the school acted with negligence. This can involve an unsafe condition at the school premises, or an act of negligence by an employee acting in their official capacity.  

These claims differ in other ways. While you can bring a claim against a private school directly, the concept of sovereign immunity can apply to public schools. Additionally, a school might also claim that the injured student waived liability prior to their injury. Finally, compensation might not be available if the school can show a student assumed the risk of injury prior to their accident.  

Sovereign immunity 

Under the law, sovereign immunity is a principle that protects “political subdivisions” of state, county, or local government. At first glance, it can appear as if sovereign immunity will cut off your chance of compensation from a public school district. That being said, there are many exceptions carved into California law that allow a claim against a school district following the injury of a child. For the most part, a school will not be able to rely on sovereign immunity in California to attack your child’s injury claim.   

Waiving liability 

Another potential defense for the school district is the claim of waived liability. Before a child takes part in a sport or other potentially dangerous activity, the school district can have the parent sign a waiver of liability. In most cases, these written waivers will protect the school for injury claims related to their participation in school activities. It is even possible for the parent to waive a claim when the school or its employees are negligent, so long as courts determine it to be “ordinary negligence.” 

Ordinary negligence covers accidents that are common with any sport or school activity. For example, a waiver could prevent you from pursuing an injury claim if your child suffers an injury following a tackle in a football game. Some types of negligence cannot be waived, however. They include: 

  • Known defects. If your child suffers an injury due to equipment the school knew to be defective, a waiver will not cut off your right to pursue compensation.  
  • Inadequate supervision. The school and their employees often step in the role of a parent during the course of a school day or event. If they fail to adequately supervise your child, they could be on the hook for any injuries that occur.  
  • Improper maintenance. If the equipment or school grounds that cause an injury are not properly maintained, a waiver will not protect the school.  
  • Intentional harm. If a teacher or staff member intentionally injures your child, these acts are not covered by a liability waiver.  

Assumption of risk 

Another way the schools will seek to avoid liability for an injury is through a defense known as assumption of risk. With this defense, the school will claim that the student and their parents understood the risks associated with the school activity that caused the injury. While this defense can work in instances of sporting injuries, it rarely applies to other types of negligence. What’s more, it is never viable in cases of intentional harm.  

Let Ellis Injury Law assist your injured student 

In many situations, your child’s school can be held responsible for following a serious injury on campus. However, there are specific guidelines you must follow that differ from other injury cases. If you fail to provide the school district with formal notice of your claim or wait too long to file suit, you will miss out on your chance for compensation. To protect your claim, schedule a free consultation with Ellis Injury Law right away. A personal injury attorney is waiting to assist you.

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