Driving and picking up your child to and from school should be the typical routine in your life as a parent. At the end of the school day, you expect to find your child looking healthy, lively and a bit smarter than you last saw them. But what happens if you find your child wrongfully injured or traumatized after an abnormal school day? You will likely try to support them and help them navigate the issue, which could include bringing in a doctor or therapist.
The question of who will pay for the treatment from a specialist or therapist is not straightforward. While some schools will offer to help offset these costs without question, other situations involving injuries at school may require legal action to get assistance. The sooner you begin the process, the better. Since wrongful injury claims have a statute of limitations, it is recommended to take action as early as possible.
Here are some insights for taking legal action if your child is injured at school:
The School as a Safe Haven
Your child’s school should be a safe place. This means that the school and staff should meet your child’s basic safety needs, with proper protocols in place to prevent either physical or mental harm. If someone in the school identifies a potential safety hazard in the school, it should immediately be reported for repairs or remediation.
For example, if there are faucets leaking in the school bathrooms, the school should fix the faucets before a child slips and falls, causing injury. In the case of bullying, the school’s teachers and staff should take action to resolve the issue. Failure to ensure child safety could be seen as negligence, and any parent will likely use this as grounds for filing a child injury lawsuit if their child gets hurt. However, proving fault isn’t always easy, as it must be proven the school is responsible for the harm or injury sustained by the child.
Building a Case Against the School
When suing a school for the harm of your child, there are four elements that require proof:
1. A Duty Must Exist
In general, there is already a sense of accepted responsibility by a school and its staff for the safety of the children attending. The teachers and authorities in charge understand that they are responsible for protecting the children, and preventing any harm from happening. Proving this is typically straightforward. For instance, it is the duty of a teacher to stop a physical altercation between two children.
2. Breach Of Duty
Next, it needs to be proven that the duty defined above has been breached. This can be done by collecting evidence that the liable person failed to pay proper attention to your child, leaving them vulnerable to injury. However, factors such as the age of your child and the nature of the accident in question will determine whether the duty was breached.
You will need to prove that the breach of duty by the authority figure led to an accident. The accident should have been foreseeable and preventable. While it is easy to prove causation in negligent supervision claims, it is tougher to do the same for personal injury claims.
Lastly, you need to prove that these actions led to the harm of your child. Harm or injury could even be emotional, which could traumatize your child for a period of time. You could also be affected financially while trying to treat your child.
Collecting Evidence Is Essential
You need to have as much evidence as possible about everything that happened to your child. This evidence could include facts that may seem trivial on the surface. Consider interviewing your child, their teacher, and any other witnesses for a detailed account of the entire incident leading up to your child’s harm. Since your child might shy away from telling you the entire truth, look for ways to incentivize their opening up.
School-related injuries often result in unplanned medical bills. This could be anything from seeing a therapist to address depression or mental health issues, to outfitting your home with accessible equipment for more serious physical injuries. If the school is unwilling to help you offset some of these bills, despite it being at fault for the injuries, get the help of an experienced lawyer to help you file a wrongful injury claim.