School is back in session! While receiving an education is a privilege, it can also be a source of worry for parents. This school year, many students will sustain injuries, and in some extreme cases, wrongful death.
Parents trust the school and its district to keep their children safe. Failure to uphold this duty can be cause for a personal injury claim. Our Los Angeles injury attorneys have prepared the below to educate parents on their rights, although, it is always advisable to seek legal counsel for your case.
Examples of Injuries on a School Premise
Accidents can happen anywhere, but it is important to hold schools accountable for any negligent behavior. Teachers, administrators, and other school personnel are responsible for reasonably caring for your child during the school day. If they fail to do so, they can be liable for any resulting injuries. A personal injury attorney in Los Angeles can advise you further on your individual circumstances.
Many schools have recess, gym, or other scheduled times of physical activity. Often, this includes the use of playgrounds and other sporting equipment. The premise owners themselves are responsible for ensuring that playground equipment is not noticeably hazardous. For example, any loose screws, broken wood, or other hazards should be addressed.
And in cases of faulty equipment, a few parties hold responsibility. Staff should ensure that children are not trusted with any noticeably harmful or non-age-appropriate equipment. If the product malfunctions, its manufacturer may also be liable.
Physical education instructors and other related personnel are responsible for educating students on the proper usage of equipment. Likewise, they are responsible for assessing and reacting to physical injury accordingly. For example, allowing a student to continue P.E. while exhibiting symptoms of an asthma attack is negligent. Because of the complexities of these lawsuits, it is best to work with the top personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles.
For fatal accidents, Los Angeles wrongful death lawyers can advise on your legal rights in filing a claim.
Slip and fall/ Trip and fall
Aside from playground equipment, there are many other physical hazards on a school property that it must address. This includes uneven sidewalks and parking lots, slippery floors, loose lighting or ceiling tiles, and other structural issues. If a school fails to address known safety hazards, it can be sued for resulting injuries.
Premise liability lawsuits hold property owners responsible for the failure to upkeep their property. If you believe the school failed to provide a safe atmosphere for your child, consult a Los Angeles personal injury attorney immediately.
In some districts, the school may provide bus transportation to its students. Typically, the school and its district are responsible for the hiring and training of these drivers.
While accidents can happen, distracted driving, speeding, DUIs, and other negligence can be reasons to sue the driver. The school and district may also be responsible for the accident if they negligently train or hire an unqualified driver.
Some schools may also have crossing guards for monitoring their parking lot and nearby crosswalks. If the crossing guard fails to properly direct traffic, they can also be subject to a personal injury lawsuit.
Sadly, injuries and wrongful death claims are not uncommon. 2021 saw a nearly 50% increase in school-bus accident fatalities. Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys can help you receive the justice you deserve in these tragedies.
Exposure to allergens and other contaminants
Many students may have documented allergies that the school must abide by. If a cafeteria cross-contaminates the food or fails to properly label it, they may be liable for any allergic reactions. Teachers and other staff members may also be responsible for following protocols to reduce allergen exposure. For example, if a teacher ate a PB&J in a nut-free classroom, they may be responsible for an allergy attack.
School nurses can also be liable for malpractice if they have a role in negligently treating the student. This applies if the nurse is reasonably aware of a symptom and fails to take proper precautions.
Similarly, exposure to asbestos, mold, and other toxins can be a reason to sue. For example, a school is aware of a mold outbreak and fails to reasonably address it. A child then attends school regularly and develops symptoms from their exposure. A parent can sue the school for the resulting illness and death, if they can prove the school was negligent.
Investigations will be critical in these types of accidents and can become very complex. Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys will conduct these investigations on your behalf to secure the evidence needed for a successful case.
Private vs. Public Schools
Private and public schools can both be held accountable for personal injuries sustained on property. However, suing private schools may be a more straightforward legal process as they are viewed by the state as similar to private businesses.
Public schools typically receive government funding, so claims against them fall under specific California laws. This means the statute of limitations can be as short as six months, and may require a vastly different filing process. Handling these personal injury cases by yourself can lead to incomplete or improper filings, which may result in your case being thrown out. Given this, it is important to consult a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles.
Filing as a Legal Guardian
Under California personal injury law, a parent or legal guardian can file a claim on behalf of their child. Children 18 and under cannot file a personal injury claim without parental consent. This makes it their parent or guardian’s responsibility to advocate on their behalf.
Note that parents can not file on behalf of a child that is not legally in their care. For any concerns on how these regulations may impact your case, please consult a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles.
Our Los Angeles injury attorneys welcome any children and their legal guardians to discuss their case with our legal counsel. We will listen to your story and advocate fiercely on behalf of your child.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Unfortunately, many accidents and injuries can escalate into fatalities. No parent should have to endure the pain of losing their child. While we cannot reverse time, our team of Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys will do its best to right others’ wrongs.
If your child’s death was the fault of their school, you have every right to pursue a legal case. However, it is critical to do so before the two-year statute of limitations. Delays in filing may jeopardize the ability to make a claim.
Wrongful death lawsuits can help you recover medical bills, funeral expenses, and other related damages.
Our Los Angeles wrongful death law firm will speak with you free of charge. In our consultation, we will discuss your individual case to determine the best next steps.
Contact a Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney (Los Angeles and the Surrounding Southern California Area)
Parents only want the best for their children. Schools should be safe spaces, and when this is compromised, it is only right to pursue legal action. Our team of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers value the protection of our community members, no matter how old or young.
John J. Perlstein is a leading Los Angeles wrongful death attorney, handling the most complex injury and fatality cases. From car accidents to fires, we have truly seen and successfully conquered it all.
For a free consultation on your case, contact our Los Angeles wrongful death attorneys today.