Who is Responsible if Your Child is Injured at School?

Children are our society’s most vulnerable citizens, and unfortunately face countless dangers every day. 

Reckless drivers, contaminated foods, internet predators, unsafe environments—all of these risks and more threaten our children’s health and welfare.  One of the few locations outside of our own homes that we assume our children will be safe is in their schools.

Public and private schools are required by law to keep children safe, including by maintaining safe classrooms and school equipment, monitoring and mediating conflicts between students and relations between students and teachers, and ensuring an environment minimizing the risk of injury to students.  Unfortunately, even schools can occasionally be unsafe.

In many circumstances, if your child is injured on school premises or while under the supervision of school employees, the school can be held partially or fully liable for their injuries or wrongful death.  The degree of liability varies depending on the facts of the case under consideration, so it is important that you consult with an experienced school accident lawyer when considering your options for recourse.

Common Types of School Injuries

Growing children can often be accident-prone, as they haven’t fully developed the coordination and awareness of adults; and school environments present unique challenges to child safety.  Some common school-related injuries include:

  • Playground injuries
  • Sports injuries, including injuries suffered during physical education classes or participation in school-sponsored sports teams
  • School bus injuries, including injuries related to improperly maintained equipment or traffic accidents
  • Injuries on school-sponsored field trips
  • Injuries suffered from unlawful physical discipline by school officials
  • Injuries suffered from improperly maintained outdoor facilities, for example improper removal of snow or ice from a sidewalk resulting in a slip-and-fall

Public vs. Private Schools

If your child is injured as a result of a school’s negligence, you have the right to sue the school regardless of whether it is public or private.  However, there are differences in the guidelines governing a lawsuit against a private school versus against a public school.

If your child’s school is private, you can file a conventional personal injury lawsuit against the school as you would against any private company responsible for an injury.  A child injury lawyer can advise you on how to proceed with this type of lawsuit.

However, if your child’s school is public it is considered a political subdivision of the government and technically has what is known as ‘sovereign immunity’.  This immunity protects the school and its officials from being sued in many circumstances.  However, under the California Tort Claims Act law you may be able to sue your child’s public school if certain conditions are met.

Unlike directly filing a lawsuit against a private school, in order to sue a public school you must first give notice of your claim to the school.  The government then has the option to accept the claim, and order the school to compensate you; or, if the government rejects all or part of your claim, you may proceed in filing a lawsuit.

Consult with a School Accident Attorney

The process of filing a personal injury lawsuit is extremely complicated, made even more so with the addition of sovereign immunity.  If you are unsure whether your child’s school can be held legally responsible for their injury, consult with a qualified school accident attorney.  The lawyers at The Dominguez Firm, LLP have substantial experience assisting clients and their children in and around the greater Los Angeles and Bakersfield areas to open successful claims against both public and private schools.  Dominguez Firm attorneys are experts in a full range of practice areas, and can help injury victims in recovery to protect their rights and obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost time in complex legal cases involving brain injuries, insurance policy disputes.  Call our law firm today for a free consultation about your case at 800-818-1818.

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