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My Child Was Hurt at School: Who Is Liable?

School classroom with blackboardSchool is supposed to be a sanctuary for all students, yet millions of children sustain injuries on school grounds every year. Regardless of how your child was injured, you have the legal right to consult a premises liability lawyer to review the situation.

A personal injury lawyer in California can determine if any party may be held liable for the harm your child suffered.

Common examples of school-related injury liability

Your lawyer will consider all aspects of the case, including whether the injury occurred due to negligence, or whether it was an intentional act. On school grounds, intentional acts of harm are often attributed to bullying. Depending on the exact circumstances, the parents of a bully who physically harmed another child might be held liable. If school staff knew or should have known about the bullying, and did nothing to stop it, then the school might be held liable.

It’s hard to imagine anyone intentionally harming a child, but sometimes adult employees of the school are to blame for a child’s injuries. If this is the case, you should reassure your child that they aren’t going to get in trouble for being honest about who caused them harm. The lawyer might sue the school for failing to conduct a background check on the employee, failing to take action after past allegations of abuse, or failing to provide sufficient supervision.

Elements of premises liability

Premises liability attorneys must prove that the three basic elements are met. The party named as the defendant must have been in control of the school grounds, and the injured party must have been an expected occupant of the property. Since students are naturally expected to be on school grounds, this element essentially fulfills itself.

Third, the party in control of school grounds must have been negligent in some way. For instance, the school might have known or should have known of some hazardous condition, and failed to fix it in a timely manner. Legal negligence is the deviation away from a reasonable standard of care.

School liability exceptions

The court recognizes at least a couple of exceptions to the liability of school districts for injuries sustained by students.

The first is the organized sports exception. Student athletes are presumed to knowingly accept the normal risks associated with sports activities. If a student tears a ligament while playing basketball, the school generally won’t be held liable.

Second, schools aren’t usually held liable for injuries that occur after normal school hours. If a child falls off a swing on the school playground on a Sunday afternoon, there is no expectation that a teacher would have been there to supervise, and so there is no legal negligence.

Legal advocacy services for your family

Ellis Law has built a reputation as a tireless advocate for injured individuals and wronged families throughout the Los Angeles area. Our premises liability lawyers in L.A. have access to a reliable network of investigators, experts, and support staff to help us build a bulletproof case on your behalf.

No amount of money can make up for the pain your child has suffered, but you can hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence. Call 1-800-INJURED today for a case review at no charge.

Additional Resources for School Premises Liability:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Playground Injuries: Fact Sheet, https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/playground-injuries/playgroundinjuries-factsheet.htm
  2. Check Your Health, School Injuries, http://www.checkyourhealth.org/articles/Archive/school%20injuries.php