When you send a child to school, it is reasonable to expect them not to be seriously injured in the school’s care. However, accidents happen – in class, on the playground, during field trips and at school sporting events and functions. If you or a loved one has been injured while at school, an experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and your legal options for holding others accountable.
Who is liable for injuries in Washington State schools?
The Washington State Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that schools have a duty to take “reasonable care” to ensure students are safe from “foreseeable” hazards in and around the school. Additionally, the school is responsible for protecting students from the harmful actions of other students, teachers, administrators and staff in the building and on the grounds.
To determine whether a school is liable for your child’s injuries, it is necessary to gather all the facts. For example, if a child falls from playground equipment at school and breaks her arm, the first question would be, “How did this happen?”
- Were the children being supervised on the playground? If not, the school may be liable because of the school’s failure to supervise students as part of their duty of “reasonable care.”
- Did the child fall on his own or was he pushed by another student? If he was pushed, the other student may be liable.
- Was the equipment maintained and in good working order? If not, was the school aware of the damage to the equipment? If so, the school may be liable.
Are schools liable for injuries?
In Washington State, schools and school districts may be sued for negligence and held liable for injuries resulting from that negligence. A 1988 court ruling noted, “… [a] school district may be liable for injuries sustained as a result of negligent supervision or failure to supervise activities of its students.” The ruling further clarified a student, “… may sue the school district for injuries resulting from its failure to protect the child.”
What are some basic safety measures that should be enforced at school?
All Washington State schools and school districts are required to have current comprehensive safe school plans, known as Emergency Operation Plans. The state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has developed a toolkit covering incident prevention, mitigation, protection, response and recovery.
While there is no catch-all school safety plan, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) identified safety and security measures schools can take to ensure a safe environment for everyone visiting, learning and working at the school including:
- Control access to buildings during school hours
- Use security cameras to monitor the school and grounds
- Require faculty, staff and students to wear badges or picture IDs
- Conduct random sweeps for contraband
- Conduct random metal detector checks
Who is responsible for safety in school?
Safety is everyone’s responsibility: administrators, teachers, staff and school resource officers. Courts have ruled that schools are acting in place of parents or guardians while the students are in their care, and schools have a duty to take “reasonable care” to ensure students are safe from “foreseeable” hazards in and around the school. Additionally, the school is responsible for protecting students from the harmful actions of other students, teachers, administrators and staff in the building and on the grounds.
What types of injuries can happen at school?
SaferAmerica identified the five most common injuries that happen in schools:
- Bruises and cuts
- Fractures and broken bones
- Head injuries
Schools are not immune from other accidents like slip-and-falls, sexual abuse and injuries resulting from harassment and bullying. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and medical records to determine if a school is liable for your child’s injuries.
Are schools liable for sports injuries?
Generally, parents and guardians sign waivers to allow children to participate in sports. If a child is injured while playing, the school is not liable unless it can be shown that the equipment provided by the school was defective or caused the injury.
When should I get a personal injury lawyer?
Attempting to settle a claim on your own could result in getting a lower settlement amount than if you consulted the guidance of a personal injury lawyer. With an experienced lawyer guiding you through your claim, you will be able to focus on your recovery rather than recovering compensation.
If you’ve had a serious injury or have lost a loved one due to a serious injury, you need to speak to a personal injury attorney who has experience working on a variety of serious injury cases. PCVA has years of experience helping parties suffering from serious injuries recover compensation. If you would like to speak with a PCVA lawyer, complete our intake form, call us at (253) 948-3199 or call us at (206) 536-2850.
How much do you charge?
Our work is done on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay us on an hourly basis, and we advance the costs of litigation. If we help you resolve your case, we receive a percentage of the amount you receive, and you reimburse us for the costs we advanced on your behalf.