What To Do if Your Child is Injured at School in Alabama
As parents, when you send your children to school each morning, you’d rather not have to worry about their health and safety throughout the day. Unfortunately, school accidents and injuries are a serious problem in Alabama and throughout the country.
While the types of injuries that an elementary school student is exposed to could differ from those of a high school student, the truth is that all children who attend school are at risk when they walk into a school or participate in school-sponsored activities.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that as many as 80% of elementary school students who visit the school nurse do so because of an injury. While some accidents can’t be avoided, others on school property are caused by unsafe conditions or the negligent behavior of another student or staff member. Unfortunately, legal liability in these cases can be complicated.
Types of School-Related Accidents
From the time your child boards the school bus in the morning until they get home in the afternoon, they could be exposed to a wide variety of hazards that could result in serious injury. As a general rule, your child’s school and the governing school board has a responsibility to keep children reasonably safe from harm. Sometimes they fail in that duty, and some of the most common school-related accidents and injuries include:
- School bus or other school-sponsored transportation accidents
- Food poisoning
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Slip and fall injuries
- Injury from defective products such as toys or playground equipment
- Sports injuries
- Assault by other children or an adult
In some of these cases, the accident or injury happens due to the careless or negligent acts of another party. When a child suffers harm, you have the right to ask those responsible to pay for damages.
Liability Issues in Alabama School Injury Cases
As with any personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove negligence by showing several facts. First, you must show that the school owed a duty of care to your child. Second, you must prove that the school breached that duty of care. Finally, you’ll need to show that the breach of duty either caused or contributed to your child’s injuries.
When it comes to school activities, many accident and injury cases deal with the school’s failure to adequately supervise children. Lack of supervision can lead to playground accidents, bullying injuries, illness from unsanitary conditions, and injuries from slip and falls. These are just a few examples of the ways that a child can experience an injury on school grounds.
Who is Responsible When Your Child is Injured in an Alabama School?
If your child was injured while on school grounds or while they were participating in a school-sponsored activity, determining who is responsible for that harm can be a challenge. Because the school district has a duty to provide a safe and secure environment for your child, this is a primary consideration for any personal injury case. For example, a school bus accident could be the fault of another driver, but it’s also possible that there were some safety issues with the school bus that contributed to injuries.
The primary barrier to most school-related lawsuits involves a protection called “sovereign immunity.” Provided your child’s school is a public school, there are laws in place that give government entities immunity from lawsuits except under certain conditions. Fortunately, all states have waived this rule when the negligence of the school district and/or one of its employees causes or contributes to the injury of a student.
Before you can file a lawsuit against a school district or its employees, the state requires that you meet certain requirements and follow some specific procedures. Failing to do either could bar your claim for recovery. There are also time limits in place to file a claim for damages against a school district.
Speak with One of Our Child Injury Attorneys in Alabama
When a child suffers from an injury, a parent’s first instinct is to fight back against those responsible for the harm. Unfortunately, school-related injuries and accidents can be complex legal matters. Having a qualified and experienced child injury attorney in your corner will give you the best chance of uncovering the responsible parties and seeing justice served. Contact the Montgomery, Alabama office of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP today at 334.262.1911 or online to arrange a free consultation.