Long Beach Attorney Handling Child School Injury Cases
Parents expect that when they send their child off to school, their child will remain safe throughout the day. But schools are filled with playground equipment, slippery floors, stairs, and other elements that can hurt children. So, what happens if a child is injured while at school? What action can the parent take?
Taking the child to a doctor and getting proper medical treatment is the first step after an injury at school. Keep copies of all medical bills and reports. This documentation will give you and a qualified attorney an idea of how much should be sought for compensation: the actual medical costs and any costs related to pain and suffering. In order to take legal action on behalf of a child, you must be his or her legal guardian.
In California, public schools have “sovereign immunity,” which means they are immune from liability if a child is injured on their property. There are certain exemptions to this type of immunity, including if a person was driving a vehicle while the child was injured, or if the school didn't take due care in ensuring that the grounds were maintained in a safe manner. Also, if the school knew of a clear and obvious danger but did not post warning signs or inform people of the potential hazard, they may not be able to use this immunity as a defense.
Parents are not left helpless when their child is injured at school. A premises liability claim (a claim that states that an individual was injured on a person's or company's property) can still be filed if parents can prove three things:
- That the school was negligent in showing a proper duty of care to the child
- That the duty of care to the child was breached
- That the breach was the cause of the child's injuries
However, even if parents can prove these three things, they still may not be able to file a premises liability claim against the school. This is because, if the injury occurred as a result of some reasonably foreseeable risk, the school can use that as a defense.
For instance, imagine that a child is playing on a playground at recess. She falls off the playground equipment, hits her head, and gets a concussion. If the surface of the playground was not covered with a shock-absorbing material, the school may be held liable because they did not provide a safe environment and therefore, did not exert a proper duty of care. However, if the surface did have a shock-absorbing material as a cover, there is some foreseeable risk that a child could fall and get hurt due to the nature of playgrounds.
California law states that school boards must maintain their buildings so that they’re clean and safe for both students and the public to use. However, since schools are granted immunity in certain legal matters, holding them responsible for premises liability claims is tricky. Schools and other public places can use this defense to protect themselves against lawsuits. If a child is injured in gym class, for example, premises liability would not apply to the school or the school board because of this sovereign immunity.
This same immunity applies to teachers and other staff members of the school. So, if a teacher accidentally ran into a student during the same gym class and the student fell and sprained his wrist or incurred another injury, the teacher will most likely not be held liable.
When children get hurt at school, it can be difficult to hold the school responsible and seek compensation from them. But that doesn't mean that parents can't do anything. This is definitely something that no one wants to try and go alone, so it's extremely important that you hire an experienced Long Beach personal injury attorney. Here at The Law Firm of Joseph H. Low IV, we have dealt in many child injury cases. We know how complicated it can be, and we know what the law states about school premises liability. Contact us today at (562) 901-0840 so we can review your case and determine if you are eligible to receive compensation from the school or the school board. Try to do it on your own and the case will likely get thrown out of court. If you let us do it for you, you're likely to see results!
- What Steps Can I Take If My Child Is Hurt at School?
- School Injuries and Child Safety
- California Department of Education