A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed for in New Jersey for $10 million by the family of a 7 year old who was killed by a folding table that fell on him during indoor soccer practice. The suit names the New Milford School District, the school custodian, the soccer coach as well as the New Milford police department as defendants. The coach was a New Milford Police member who tried in vain to save the boy by performing CPR.
Lawsuits concerning students injured at school, are not as uncommon as most would think. Although the case mentioned above is unusual, there are several more common causes of both physical and emotional injury to students caused by negligence on the part of teachers, bus drivers, nurses and athletic personnel. These are easily preventable but unfortunately too common..
The Main Causes of Student Injuries
A large portion of school related injuries occur for one of three reasons; violence, gym or sports related accidents, school bus crashes or falls.
Violent acts by students accounted for 749,200 nonfatal injuries among 12 – 18 year olds in the U.S. in 2012, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The following year a national survey showed that 8% of students reported being in a fight and 7% reported being threatened or injured. In addition, 5% admitted to carrying a weapon within the last 30 days. An alarming 20% reported being bullied.
The CDC reported that the most common injuries to students from physical violence included contusions, broken bones, head trauma, and gunshot wounds. Also noted by the CDC was that school violence can lead to anxiety, depression and disabling phobias.
Athletic related injuries, from sports or gym class, are also common. In 2012 a report from Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit group, more than 1.35 million youths suffered from sports related injuries that were serious enough to require hospitalization. Injuries are most likely to occur from improper supervision or defective safety equipment. Much public awareness has been generated in the news recently about sports related concussions and the lifelong consequences to some recipients. But bone fractures, soft tissues injuries, sprains and spinal injuries also can also result from athletic activity.
School bus accidents are another frequent cause of injuries to students of all ages. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that from 2003 to 2012 more than 1200 school bus crashes occurred, resulting in the death of an average of 135 children each year. These statistics do not include a large number of children injured by falls on buses or injured while boarding or leaving.
Unsafe property is another common cause of injury to school children. Cracked steps, broken or loose railings, slippery walks and halls, improperly maintained recreation areas are all points of potential injury.
Medical malpractice by school nurses and medical staff is another reason for negligent injuries to students. Another is lack of proper supervision on playgrounds, cafeterias, classrooms and commons areas such as hallways.
If your child is injured in school your first concern is for their well-being. They need your comfort in addition to medical attention. Once you have settled down and look at the circumstances that lead to the child being hurt, you may feel there was negligence on the part of the school and one or more members of it personnel. Do not decide for yourself if there was negligence. Contact an attorney who has experience with school injury cases to determine if negligence existed and who contributed to it. Every situation is different.
Required Elements for a Successful School Injury Suit
In order to have a successful lawsuit against a school, four different elements must be shown:
- There must be a duty of care. All teachers and school staff have a duty of care to protect students from harm, physically and psychologically while on school grounds, on buses and on supervised field trips and sports activities.
- The duty of care must be shown to have been breached. The teacher, school bus driver, coach, nurse, custodian or any other school staff member acted inappropriately or failed to act appropriately during the course of duty.
- Negligence, recklessness or other misconduct caused harm to the student.
- The student must have suffered an injury either physically or psychologically. The harm must be actual and proven and confirmed by medical professionals.
Suing a public entity such as a school is different than suing a private entity. It is imperative to act quickly as the deadlines for filing are tighter. For example the rules are different when it comes to a private school vs. a public school.
Hiring a School Injury Attorney
If your child was injured at school, on a school bus, or participating in a school activity contact a school injury attorney 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. If the child lost his or her life in the accident, a wrongful death suit may be possible. Do not determine for yourself who is to blame. Even in the case of bullying, there may have been negligence if the bullying could have been prevented.
Dolman Law Group has represented many clients whose children were injured at school. If your child was hurt, contact a lawyer today for a free evaluation of your case. Call 727-451-6900 today.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765