Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Child Was Injured at School - Who is Liable?

As a parent, you want the assurance that your child is safe at school. You want to know that the school administration has taken all reasonable measures to ensure your child does not suffer injury. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

School injuries are very common in the United States. Up to 14 million child injuries occur every year in the country, more than a quarter of which take place in schools. If your child has been injured in a New York school, talk to a New York personal injury lawyer who understands the law of negligence as it applies to school injuries.

Can I Sue The School For My Child’s Injury?

The law envisions school as a safe place for children to learn and play. The law places a duty of care on the school administration, teachers and staff to do all that is reasonably possible to protect students from harm whenever they are within the school premises, on the school bus, in the gym, on the playing field and on school trips.

This legal duty requires school authorities to:

  • repair anything that may cause foreseeable harm such as a pot hole on the school pavement
  • supervise students during recess when they are playing on the playground
  • keep the school clean to prevent injuries that may arise from poor sanitation

A breach of this duty that results in the injury, harm or even death of your child gives you, the parent, a cause of action against the school.

What Damages Can I Sue The School For?

If a school fails in its duty to provide a safe environment for students, it has acted negligently by law. It is therefore liable for all expenses incurred as a result of the injury. These include:

  • Medical bills
  • Therapy bills
  • Hospital expenses such as medication, crutches or hospital parking fees
  • Lost wages if your child worked part time
  • The student’s overall pain and suffering

Proving Negligence In Court

To succeed in a negligence action, you will need to prove three things:

  1. That the school owed a duty of care
  2. That the school breached that duty
  3. That the injury was the proximate cause of that breach (the injury was reasonably foreseeable).

Here’s How To Prove Negligence

The existence of a duty of care is established by the legal doctrine of in loco parentis, which translates to “in the place of parents.” It means that when a child is in school or taking part in a school activity, the teacher or administrator has the same responsibility of care as does a parent. Once you prove your child studied in the school, a duty of care is established.

In determining whether the school breached its duty of care, the courts are guided by a certain doctrine called the prudent teacher doctrine. The doctrine simply asks, “What would a prudent teacher have done in a similar situation?”

Accordingly, if a prudent teacher would not have left students unsupervised during recess but the defendant did, a breach has occurred. If a prudent administrator would have acted quickly to repair a fault on the pavement or in the school toilet that could cause a foreseeable injury but the defendant didn’t, a breach exists.

Your child has a right to be safe and secure, especially at school. It is very hurtful and frustrating when children suffer injuries because of the negligence of a school administrator or staff. Contact the Buffalo, New York personal injury lawyers at Wellborn Paluch today at (toll free) 1-844-855-HURT or 716-254-2554 for a free consultation.


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