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School Ground Injuries: Are Schools Responsible?

Parents send their kids to school expecting them to return safely. Even so, school ground injuries are common. Schools and their staff have a duty to do whatever is possible—within reason—to keep kids safe from foreseeable harm. But what happens when a school does not prevent foreseeable harm and a child is injured? The answer depends on whether it was negligent.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is the failure to act with the level of care a reasonable person would under similar circumstances. But the legal standard of care for teachers and administrators is higher. School staff act in loco parentis, which means “in place of the parents.” Under this doctrine, they assume some of the same responsibilities as the parents. This allows staff to better supervise and manage children, but it also means they have to exercise an even higher level of care to prevent harm. The court might find them negligent if they fail to do so.

What Happens if a School Is Negligent?

If school staff acted negligently, the school may be held liable for damages, and the parents could file a personal injury claim against the school. Damages may include medical bills and pain and suffering.

Holding the School Accountable

If the harm was not foreseeable or school staff acted prudently and exercised the level of care required under law, the court might not find the school negligent. The court will consider many factors when determining negligence, including what or who caused the harm, whether school knew about the potential for harm, should the school have known about the potential for harm, and what they did to prevent it.

Pursuing a Claim

Filing a personal injury claim against a school can be difficult. You must prove school staff acted negligently to be successful. If your child suffered an injury while on the school ground, speak with an experienced Arlington Heights personal injury attorney about your options. Also, make sure your child is aware of the safety risks at school and how he or she could avoid them. We like to believe every child is safe at school, but, in reality, they face risks every day.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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