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Are Schools Responsible When a Student Gets Hurt?

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Parents know how active and energized their kids can be, and that certainly doesn’t change when they go to school every day, especially with playtime and physical education programs. From a young age, children play on the playground during recess where they usually participate in activities like kick ball and dodge ball or challenge each other to contests on the monkey bars. Injuries to children are unavoidable, but when they happen at school, can the school district be liable? If so, how do you go about making an injury claim?

The State of Washington recognizes that there is a unique relationship between a school and its students. Because of this relationship, Washington courts created a law recognizing a school’s “solemn and enhanced” duty to protect its students from harm that the school can reasonably anticipate.

This leads to a few questions that we suggest be asked immediately after your child is injured at school.

Was the Act Intentional or Negligent?

This is the first question that must be answered in determining who is ultimately responsible for the injury. Teachers and staff provide and care for children at school often as much as parents do at home. Generally speaking, if a school fails to follow accepted standards of care in providing basic services to a child such as shelter, transportation, food, and general safety, and the student is injured because of that failure, then the school is said to be negligent.

What Types of Acts Constitute Negligence by a School?

Here are some general examples of school related negligence.

  • A school bus accident
  • A playground injury
  • A food poisoning incident
  • A slip and fall accident
  • Neglecting to provide medications
  • An exposure to asbestos or other substance
  • Injury from natural or man-made disasters
  • Defective school equipment
  • Injuries during a sports or playtime event
  • School shootings

Is the School Public or Private?

In the past, state laws gave public schools immunity from student injury suits because courts considered schools to be performing a governmental role. Now many states have changed the older laws and opened up public schools to suits in certain cases.

What Should You do Next?

Anytime a child is seriously injured at school or in a school-supervised activity, a parent has the right to, and should investigate to see if the school was responsible.
If your child was injured at school, on a school bus, or participating in a school activity contact a personal injury attorney here at Elsner Law Firm immediately. You may be entitled to damages for your child’s pain and suffering, medical bills and even loss of income if he or she is employed.

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