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My Child Was Injured at School. What Should I Do?

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Parents do everything possible to keep their children safe. There are times when their safety and well-being are out of a parents’ hands. At school, parents can only rely on the teachers and administration to ensure their child’s protection. When your child is injured at school, it’s alarming. You hope they can keep your child safe, but accidents and other harmful events can happen. If your child is injured at school, what do you do?

What Are the Most Common Ways Children Get Hurt at School?

How do most of these injuries happen? There are several possibilities, but these are the most common injury at a school.

Sports-Related Injuries

Each year, 3.5 million sports-related injuries occur in children 14 or younger. Another 2 million occur at the high school level. Baseball/softball, football, and soccer are sports that are linked to the highest number of injuries. Within the past 20 years, severe elbow and shoulder injuries amount youth league baseball and softball players have increased by 500%. Traumatic brain injury rates account for 21% of all injuries. It’s not uncommon for your child to get injured playing sports in gym class or as an extracurricular activity.

School Violence

One of the most frightening aspects of an injury at school is the risk of violence. Bullying, fights, and planned attacks are possibilities. You don’t want to face this, but it can happen. Bullying is one of the biggest risks. Bullying affects a child emotionally and can lead to more than emotional distress. Bullying can lead to physical confrontations and violence. In 2015 and 2016, fights and other violent crimes occurred in 79% of the public schools in the U.S.

Iowa has specific laws to protect children against bullying and harassment. Per Iowa Code section 280.28, any written, physical, or verbal threat that impedes another student’s right to a safe school environment meets the requirement of bullying. If the act makes a student feel unsafe at school, affects mental or physical health, affects student performance, or makes it hard for the student to benefit from or participate in school activities and services, it meets the requirements for bullying.

Playground Accidents

Playground injuries send more than 200,000 children to the emergency room every year. Around 10% of those injuries are traumatic brain injuries. Bone fractures, sprains, cuts/scrapes, and bruises are also common playground injuries. Of all playground injuries, 3 out of 4 occur on a public or school playground. About 2 out of 3 of those accidents take place on swings, slides, and climbing equipment.

Hazardous Conditions/Grounds

School officials have a responsibility to keep the grounds and conditions in a school in a safe condition. If a school hasn’t gotten around to deicing outside stairs and a student slips and falls on the ice, the school was negligent. If wasps build a nest under a slide and maintenance and grounds workers don’t take care of it, the school is negligent if children get stung.

Schools also have to make sure chemicals are stored properly and out of reach of children. They need to make sure elevators are in proper working order and inspected regularly. They need to hold fire drills and test the system regularly to make sure it’s working.

The school bus is an extension of school grounds. If your child is on the bus and the bus driver is sleepy and goes off the road, the school and/or the school bus company can be held responsible for any injuries related to the crash.

Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common issues in schools and are often linked to hazardous grounds. They can occur on wet floors, uneven or cracked sidewalks, and loose tiles or carpeting. As many slip and fall accidents could be prevented through proper maintenance, the school could be liable if maintenance is lax.

What If It Happens to Your Child?

Take care of your child first. If your child needs urgent medical care, the school may have already had your child taken to the hospital. Head directly there. In some cases, the school may call you and ask what you want to do. You might also be directed to get your child at the school and take him/her to the hospital yourself. It depends on the severity of the injury.

If your child is injured, the school district must be told. See if the school has filed a report or ask for a form. There’s a statute of limitations, so you can’t delay this step.

There are cases where you may have signed a waiver releasing the school from blame. This waiver is common if your child plays sports. If you’ve signed a waiver, ask an attorney who specializes in injuries at school if the waiver is binding in your child’s specific situation. There may be exceptions. For example, if your child’s coach refuses to let players stop and drink water on a very hot day and your child becomes dehydrated, the coach’s actions are clearly to blame.

Initial Consultations Are Free

The team at Trial Lawyers for Justice are dedicated to making sure your child receives fair compensation for injuries received in a school setting. With more than 300 jury verdicts and an excess of $1.5 billion in winning verdicts, the team has a high success rate. Let them help you. Call TL4J to request a free consultation.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".