Schools in Los Angeles not only have the obligation to teach our children, but also provide them with a reasonable amount of protection from danger that pose risks for injury. However, when schools fail to act reasonably in this regard, the school district, school itself, or personnel working for the school may be legally liable for any negligence that led to a child’s injury.
Virtually all schools have a set of rules and procedures in place to promote a safe environment for students. However, there are many causes of child injuries at school. Everything from inattentive staff to bullying to defective equipment, and other flaws with the facility may lead to the injury of your child. When this occurs, you and your child have legal rights to recover damages.
Examples of legal liability resulting from child injuries at school
The various child injury scenarios on school property that result from the negligent activities of one or more parties include:
- Slip and fall accidents on school premises could result from failure of the school or school’s outside vendor to clear sidewalks of snow and ice or a loose handrail improperly maintained by the school or installed improperly by a contractor.
- School bus injuries may be caused by district employee or bus driver negligence, negligence of the other party to the accident, or malfunctioning manufacturer equipment.
- Playground injuries may be the result of inadequate teacher supervision or faulty playground equipment, caused by poor maintenance by the school or improper manufacturer design.
- Child food poisoning at school may stem from poor food preparation by school employees or tainted food from the manufacturer or vendor.
- Exposure to asbestos in school may result from the school’s district’s failure to have the substances removed or shut down the school.
- Injuries in school from man-made or natural disasters may result from poor emergency planning and preparedness or failure to properly execute evacuation or shelter protocol.
- Injuries during sports and playtime activities may stem from defective equipment from a manufacturer/vendor or lack of proper supervision by school personnel.
- Sexual abuse of children in school may be committed by coaches, teachers, maintenance workers, school administrators, or other students. Child sexual abuse in school can include both physical and nonphysical contact; the latter including voyeurism, exposure, and child pornography.
In these above-mentioned cases, various entities may be liable, including the school, school district, school personnel, and outside equipment manufacturers or vendors.
Suing a public or private school
If your child’s school is public, it is considered a governmental entity under state law. Charter schools fall under the same category, although they are governed differently. There are very strict procedures that you must follow if you want to bring an injury claim or a lawsuit over an incident at a public or charter school.
As it regards suing charter schools, under California law, as long as public school officials meet their monitoring requirements, they (the county office of education) cannot be sued: “If a county superintendent of schools monitors or investigates a charter school pursuant to this section, the county office of education shall not incur any liability beyond the cost of the investigation.”
Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit in court against the school district, you must file a Notice of Claim with the school district. This notice, presented in writing, must detail the nature of the incident including the alleged wrongful action or inaction by the school, school district, or school personnel. It must also explain the injuries suffered by the student and include a dollar amount demand for compensation. From this information, the school district can proceed to investigate the claim.
In California, you are required to provide written Notice of Claim to the school district no later than six months after the date of the student’s injury. If the school district rejects the claim, you can file a lawsuit in California state civil court for damages.
If your child suffered an injury at a private school, the organization you may bring an injury claim against will be a nonprofit organization. You can typically proceed with a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against one of these entities or an employee working for one of these organizations without the need to overcome the protections provided for public schools.
When a student suffers an injury at school, both the student and his/her family may experience new hardships and difficulties due to the injury and associated financial burdens involved. At Taylor & Ring, we investigate the cause of your child’s injury at school and provide you with effective representation to seek the compensation you deserve. If you would like a free consultation about your case, call our Los Angeles law firm today at 310.776.6390 or send a request to our contact form.