Finding out your child has been injured at school is a nightmare for any parent. Especially in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, when your children’s health and safety are on the line, you may find yourself wondering if there’s any recourse for parents in your position.
While some accidents are simply unavoidable, if your child was exposed to unsafe conditions or staff negligence, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim.
For example, playground accidents are even more common than you might realize – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that nearly 80% of elementary school children end up visiting the school nurse for injuries.
This means that for most parents, it’s only a matter of time before your child sustains some type of injury at school.
So how can you determine if said injuries are truly an accident? Our team at the Stewart Law Firm helps clients all over the state of Texas with personal injury claims, and we can help you determine whether your child’s accident was caused by a lack of attentiveness or carelessness from staff or other students.
Can I sue my child’s school if they contract COVID-19?
In addition to these typical scenarios, many parents are now becoming concerned about their children’s safety at school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The federal government, and most state governments, are still deciding to what degree individual schools and school systems should be held legally responsible for when their students contract COVID-19.
Some states are passing laws that protect school systems from liability claims around COVID-19. Texas has yet to pass such a law.
Most legal experts agree it would be difficult to prove in court that your child specifically contracted the virus because of negligence or carelessness at their school. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
If your child has suffered as a result of COVID-19, and you’re concerned that their school may be to blame, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your circumstances and determine whether you have a case.
When is the school district liable for my child’s injuries?
Sometimes, accidents happen, and there’s no one to blame for them. But other times, you may have a legitimate grievance over the carelessness or negligence of your child’s school.
Here are some scenarios in which the school district may be liable for your child’s injuries:
- Your child was injured by a known bully. If your child was attacked by a bully at school, the liability rests primarily with the other student. However, the school is legally responsible for ensuring a safe environment for its learners. Failing to take proper disciplinary action, or to prevent unsafe situations, can make the school district liable for the harm your child suffered.
- A school bus driver was involved in an accident. Regardless of who caused the accident, a school bus driver is responsible for your child’s safety. If the bus driver acted in a negligent or careless way, or otherwise allowed a car accident to occur, you can hold the school district accountable.
- A teacher failed to take the proper steps to resolve a problem. Teachers and staff members are obligated to take care of the children in their charge. If there are consistent personality clashes or problems amongst developing children, they must inform the parents and take action to address the issue.
- A school caretaker left hazards within reach of children. If your child slips and falls on a wet cafeteria floor, or sustains burns in a classroom setting, it may mean a school official was negligent. All cleaning materials and dangerous items should be safely out of a child’s reach.
What are the steps for filing a lawsuit against the school?
The steps to file a personal injury lawsuit vary depending on the school, and the process can look radically different if it is a private or charter school. But for the vast majority of American students, the school system will be a public one.
Because public schools are an extension of the government, they are known as “political subdivisions,” and are technically entitled to immunity from lawsuits. Thankfully, every state has removed this immunity and will allow certain claims for compensation in personal injury cases, which means you could potentially file a suit.
Navigating a lawsuit against a government entity can be tricky, so it’s always best to consult with a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney before pursuing a course of action. However, there are some general things you might need to know about the process.
Some tips to keep in mind as you consider a personal injury claim:
- You will likely need to file a “Notice of Claim.” This is a document that you will either submit to the school district or to an appropriate government agency.
- File your claim on time. Once your child has sustained an injury, you only have 60 to 90 days to file your Notice of Claim before the statute of limitations expires. Waiting too long could mean that you will later be prohibited from filing a lawsuit against the school district in court.
- Once your Notice of Claim has been filed, you must wait for the school district to respond. It can be difficult, but it’s important to wait until the school district denies the claim, or until 3-6 months pass without any action on the part of the district. After the school district has responded, you can begin the process of filing in court.
Hire a personal injury lawyer in Austin
We understand that as parents, your child’s safety is the most important thing to you– whether that’s their health in a pandemic or their personal safety from a known bully.
If your child has been injured at school, you will need an experienced personal injury lawyer at your side to make sure that you and your child are able to pursue justice. Contact the Stewart Law Firm to get started on your case today.