As a parent, you send your child to school expecting they will be safe, but what happens when the unthinkable occurs? What happens if your child gets hurt?
If your child is injured at a public or private school in Florida, the school could potentially be held liable. This will depend on the specifics of the incident, including the nature of the injury, where it took place, and whether the school or its staff acted negligently.
In this blog, a school injury lawyer from Cohen and Juda addresses the crucial question: “Is the school responsible if my child gets hurt in Florida?” We’ll also answer other common questions related to the circumstances where a school might be held liable for your child’s injuries.
School Injury Liability and Negligence
Whether a school can be held responsible if your child gets hurt revolves primarily around the concept of negligence.
In legal terms, negligence refers to a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. It involves elements like duty, breach of that duty, and damages caused by the breach.
The Duty of Schools
All schools, whether public or private, have a duty of care towards their students. This means that they are obligated to ensure a safe environment where students are protected from harm.
Schools must ensure adequate supervision during the school day, maintain safe conditions on school grounds, and take precautions to protect children from foreseeable harm.
Breach of Duty
It can be considered negligent if a school fails to meet its duty of care – say, through inadequate supervision on the school playground or by using unsafe playground equipment. The school may be held liable if your child suffers serious injuries due to this negligence.
Damages Resulting from Breach
Lastly, for a school to be held accountable for your child’s injuries, there must be a clear link between the school’s negligence and the injury.
For example, if a child suffers a broken bone due to faulty playground equipment that the school failed to maintain, this would likely constitute a breach of duty.
What Qualifies as Negligent Supervision in Schools?
Negligent supervision refers to situations where school officials fail to provide the level of supervision that would reasonably be expected in a given circumstance.
This can happen in a number of situations, for example, leaving students unattended on the playground, not adequately supervising a science lab with potentially dangerous chemicals, or failing to address bullying incidents among students.
An injured child’s parents or guardians would need to show that a reasonable person (or institution, in this case) in the same situation would have foreseen the risk and taken steps to prevent the injury.
A personal injury lawyer experienced in school injuries can help determine whether a case for negligent supervision can be made.
How Does Liability Differ Between Public and Private Schools?
Public schools, unlike private schools, are government entities. This categorization affords them certain protections under Florida’s sovereign immunity laws. However, this doesn’t mean they are entirely immune from lawsuits.
Under the Florida Tort Claims Act, the state has waived its sovereign immunity to a certain extent, allowing individuals to sue public schools for injuries caused by the negligence of a school employee acting within the scope of their employment.
However, the process to sue a public school is more complex than standard personal injury claims. There are specific rules and procedures to follow, such as a pre-suit notice requirement where you must inform the school district of your intent to sue before filing a lawsuit.
Additionally, there are typically limits on the amount of damages that can be recovered. While public schools can be liable for negligence, the path to legal recourse requires careful navigation of Florida’s specific sovereign immunity laws.
Private schools, on the other hand, are independent entities. Like other private businesses, they can be held accountable for negligent actions. Parents may have more straightforward legal recourse if a child is injured due to negligence at a private school than if the injury occurred at a public school.
Schools could be held liable for a wide variety of injuries. However, the likelihood of the school being found at fault will depend on the exact nature of the injury and its circumstances.
What Are Common School Injuries in Florida?
While schools strive to provide a safe environment for children, injuries can and do happen. They range from minor accidents that require simple first-aid treatment to serious incidents that may result in long-term consequences. Here are some of the most common school injuries reported in Florida:
Whether from playground equipment, tripping over objects, or slipping on wet surfaces, falls are the leading cause of school injuries. These incidents can result in various injuries, including broken bones, sprains, and head injuries.
Physical education classes and school sports activities are common sites of injuries in schools. These can include sprains and strains, fractures, concussions, and, in severe cases, spinal cord injuries.
Such injuries are often a result of inadequate supervision, lack of proper safety equipment, or unsafe playing conditions.
Injuries due to inadequate supervision can occur in various situations, such as during recess, in the cafeteria, or on school field trips. These injuries might include those caused by fights between students, bullying, or unsafe use of school equipment.
Accidents Involving School Property
Accidents can occur due to poorly maintained school property. This might include injuries from broken furniture, poorly maintained playground equipment, or tripping hazards.
In each scenario, the key is determining whether the school failed to uphold its duty of care. This can often be a complex process, requiring the expertise of a skilled personal injury lawyer in Florida.
Can Schools be Held Liable for Injuries that Happen on School Buses?
In some cases, yes, schools can be held liable for injuries that happen on school buses. This can occur if a school bus is involved in a traffic accident due to the bus driver’s negligence or if a child is injured on the bus due to a lack of adequate supervision.
If the school district operates the bus, and an injury happens due to negligent hiring or inadequate bus maintenance, the school could be held responsible.
What About Injuries Caused by School Violence?
Injuries resulting from school violence can lead to school liability, especially if the school fails to address foreseeable threats. This includes student fights, bullying incidents, or severe criminal acts.
The parents of a violent child could also potentially be liable. Moreover, in some cases, the violent students themselves could face liability, particularly if they are older or have committed a criminal act.
Given the complexities and often traumatic nature of such situations, it’s crucial to seek professional advice. As personal injury lawyers, we can guide you through the legal complexities associated with injuries stemming from school violence. Our priority is to allow you to concentrate on your child’s recovery and well-being.
In circumstances where criminal proceedings may also be appropriate, we can offer referrals to trusted colleagues in the criminal law field, ensuring that all aspects of your situation are managed appropriately and professionally.
“Is the school responsible if my child gets hurt in Florida?” isn’t a simple yes or no. The liability of a school, whether public or private, hinges on multiple factors, including the nature of the injury, the circumstances under which it occurred, and whether the school acted negligently or breached its duty of care.
Schools carry a significant responsibility for student safety, and parents have a role in holding them accountable if their child is injured due to preventable circumstances. If your child has been injured, it’s vital to understand your rights and pursue legal recourse for fair compensation.
Remember, every child has the right to a safe and secure education, and no parent should have to worry about their child’s well-being while at school. Your voice matters, your concerns are valid, and your child’s safety is our priority.
Trust Cohen and Juda for Your Child’s School Injury Claim
School injuries can be complex, often leaving lasting emotional and physical impacts on children and their families. They demand justice, and you need a dedicated team who understands and fights for your rights. If your child has been injured at school in South Florida, don’t hesitate to reach out.
At Cohen and Juda, we are more than just your school injury lawyers; we are your partners in this fight for justice. With over 30 years of experience in personal injury law, including cases involving school injuries, we’re ready to put our skill and experience to work for you.
You don’t have to navigate this challenging time alone. Let us stand with you, advocating for your child’s rights and providing the compassionate support you need. Contact us at (954) 424-1440 or fill out our contact form for a FREE consultation with a dedicated school injury attorney.
Your child’s case is our cause, and we’ll fight tirelessly to secure the justice they deserve. Let us personally fight for your child’s rights!
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The information in this blog post (post) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.