It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, getting a call saying your child has been in an accident, and while it’s statistically rare, each year many kids are injured at the start of the school year. When this happens, of course the first thing you’re worried about is your child’s health, and your initial focus will be on their medical needs and recovery.
But eventually, the focus will turn to the financial losses and the ordeal your family has gone through because of someone else’s negligence. At The Pearce Law Firm, PC, we understand how important your child’s health and wellbeing is to you. You want them to go to school and do well and be safe. We fell the same way, and when the unthinkable happens, we are ready to stand by you and help you get justice and to put you back on your feet financially.
Back to School Safety Hazards
In any injury, the law requires the responsible person (or entity) to compensate the injured for their losses. This is true if it is another driver, public or private school bus driver, crossing guard, school official or anyone whose negligence caused your child’s injury.
Riding the Bus
The odds are greatly in the favor of those riding in a bus to stay safe. School bus accidents are rare, and child deaths from those accidents are even more rare. Each year, there are around 20,000 school bus accident injuries that require an emergency room visit, and out of those around 130 become fatalities.
While 20,000 is not a small number, statistically, it’s very low especially given the number of miles logged by students on buses each year. When it does happen, the school district might be liable for the damages, or it might be the fault of another driver.
Some parents take their kids to school, and they run the same risk of an accident as they do driving anywhere. However, parents often carpool their kids taking turns or paying other parents to get their kids to school. When an accident happens in these situations, then the other parent might be at fault.
If the accident happens on the school grounds, then sometimes the liability is with an unsafe pick-up or drop-off system, and the school might have some liability.
Some kids walk part way or all the way to school, and there is often a crossing guard at busy intersections and crosswalks around the school. The law puts a duty on all motorists and crossing guard to do what is reasonable to keep the kids safe. This means that the crossing guards have to follow safety protocols, and it means that all motorists—even those just passing by—have to operate their vehicles with the care that is due considering the time of day and the amount of pedestrian traffic in the area.
Injuries During School
Kids can get hurt at school. They can get hurt doing organized PE or other school events. They can get injured by other students or even trip over something on their way to class. Whether it’s a private or public school, the school has a reasonable duty to keep the children safe, and when the don’t do that, they can be liable for injuries to the child.
Private v. Public School Liability
When someone is injured due to another person’s negligence, then the law requires that the at-fault person pay for the damages. If the at-fault “person” is a private school or transportation company, then the normal rules of personal injury negligence apply which means that if someone’s carelessness caused an injury, then they are liable for the damages.
However, if the public school is at fault, then different rules apply.
Sovereign Immunity and Public School Liability
Every government entity is protected by what’s called sovereign immunity, which translates roughly into you can’t sue the king. Of course, today the king is the government, and the law protects them from everyday negligence lawsuits.
However, Pennsylvania—like most states—passed a law that allows some suits for when the government is negligent and caused a person injury. One of the exceptions to the law of sovereign immunity is when a child is injured at school due to the negligence of the school. This can be for a host of reasons, some of which are:
- School Bus Accidents
- Playground Injuries
- School Sports/PE Injuries
- School Grounds/Classroom Injuries
- Security/Assault/Sexual Assault
- Building Design
These are just a few. Anytime a child gets injured at school, the circumstances of the injury might indicate that the school was negligent.
Making a Claim Against a Public School
The law that allows the school to be sued has placed certain restrictions on the lawsuit itself. An experienced attorney will know what these restrictions are and how to make a valid public-school injury claim.
There is a shortened notice requirement when suing the state. The government is entitled to a 180-day notice of the claim, and failure to meet the time and content requirements of the notice might result in a dismissed claim.
Statute of Limitations
Also, any lawsuit against the state for a public-school injury must be brought within two years of the date of injury. Missing this can also result in a dismissed claim.
As of 2019, the state has placed a limit on the amount someone can claim for damages against the state. The cap is $250,000 for each person’s injury and $1,000,000 for each incident (if there are multiple people injured).
Philadelphia’s Children’s Personal Injury Lawyer
Edith Pearce, the founder of The Pearce Law Firm, PC, is known in the community as being a sensitive and compassionate injured child’s advocate. She understands how important your children are, and will handle a child’s injury with tact while passionately defending the rights and needs of the child.
We offer a free consultation where you can come speak to an attorney about your case and be advised of your’s and your child’s rights. Then if you decide to hire us to represent your child, you will have one of the premiere children’s advocates on your side. Call us today at at (215) 557-8686 or text at 215 880 6164. You can also contact us online by clicking here.