When you drop your child off at school, you expect them to be in a safe environment. This is true whether your child is in kindergarten, in high school, or anywhere in between. Unfortunately, of the more than 14 million annual unintentional injuries to children, nearly a quarter of those occurs in and around a school, or while on a school-sponsored trip. This is not all that surprising, especially considering that in 2012, more than 50 million students were enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools. In addition, another five million are enrolled in private schools. It is estimated that American children will spend an average of 943 hours in elementary school this year.
Schools, teachers, and support staff are charged with ensuring your child is safe during the hours spent in school. Most school-related injuries are due to one or more of the following factors:
- Old playground equipment, or equipment which is not safety-approved or is in disrepair;
- Inadequate or non-existent evacuation plans in case of an emergency;
- Fire alarms which fail to work during a fire;
- Lack of restriction to vehicle traffic near the playground;
- Injuries caused by old or damaged stairs or other structural issues with the school;
- Inadequate security policies and procedures which allowed a dangerous person to enter school grounds and harm a child;
- Cafeteria food which is inadequately or improperly cooked or served;
- School bus injuries due to inadequate safety regulations or inadequate supervision, or
- Failure of teaching staff to adequately supervise children, whether in the classroom, on the playground, around buses or during a field trip.
Playground accidents & School Injuries
Playground accidents and athletic-related injuries are the most common. In Washington D.C., the school may be held liable if proper supervision was not provided, if safety regulations were not followed, or if safe equipment was not provided to the students. If your child was injured, you must first determine who is responsible for the injury. If your child was physically harmed by another student or was abused by an adult employee of the school, then these could be instances of intentional torts. Depending on the circumstances, the school may be held liable for failing to stop the harassment by another student or for failing to conduct a thorough background check on an adult employee of the school. The school may also have failed to provide appropriate training for employees or appropriate supervision of support staff.
Many of these issues may overlap with negligence. This means your child’s injury was not caused by an intentional act, rather an accident. If the accident was a result of a failure on the part of the school or on the part of a teacher, then negligence may be at hand. During the time your child spends at school. In Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, schools have a duty to provide shelter, food, transportation, and a safe environment—just as you have those same duties when the child is at home. Should the school fail to follow acceptable standards of care, such negligence may have directly resulted in harm to your child. School officials also breach the required duty of care if they were aware of an unsafe situation but did nothing to correct the issue.
Public or Private?
If your child attends public school, then the school is considered a governmental entity. This means there are very strict rules and procedures, which must be adhered to when bringing a claim against the school. Because of this, it is very important you speak to a Washington D.C. personal injury attorney regarding your child’s injuries. If your child was injured while at a private school, there are fewer procedural rules, yet you will still benefit from your attorney’s experience and legal knowledge. It is important to have a strong legal advocate in your child’s corner following an accident, which occurs, on school property or on a school-sponsored trip. Don’t try to handle the situation alone.
Contact Child Injury Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our child injury lawyers have extensive experience representing injured children and families in Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, and throughout the State of Maryland. We know how devastating it can be when your child is injured and we work tirelessly to ensure that you and your family are protected throughout the litigation process. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6635 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.
The child injury attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Maryland, and throughout Virginia.