Few things are as concerning for a parent as discovering that his or her child has been injured at school, where children should be the most protected. Most school injuries are preventable, which is the most difficult part of the situation.
If your child was injured at school, whether it was at recess, in the classroom, or crossing the street after the bell rang, you should learn as much as you can about your rights and the school system’s responsibilities. Seek help from an attorney who handles premises liability cases in school immediately.
The Most Common Causes of School Injuries
Common causes of accidents at schools include:
- Schoolyard Accidents – Playground equipment is an accident waiting to happen, even when it’s clean, in proper working condition, and every safety precaution has been taken. However, when swing sets and jungle gyms are used hard day in and day out, constantly subject to the elements, and fall into disrepair, accidents are even more common. Failing to adequately supervise children while they are using this equipment is another concern. Often there is just one recess monitor for over 100 children. Often that one monitor is responsible for supervising an L-shaped playground in which he or she can’t even see the whole area at once.
- Sports – Contact sports, like jungle gyms, definitely come with some risk. Student athletes are almost always required to sign a “hold harmless” type of document in order to be allowed to participate in school sports, so suing a school over a sports injury can be challenging. If defective gear, poor supervision, dangerous conditions, or something negligent caused the injury, you may have a case against the school for a sports injury.
- Food Poisoning – Any cafeteria is liable to have food poisoning break-outs from time to time, however, food poisoning can be especially disastrous for children. Food poisoning cases are particularly strong when everyone impacted by the tainted food comes together for a class action claim. If the children were hospitalized and/or had their stomachs pumped, please consider contacting an attorney so you are not stuck paying those medical bills unnecessarily.
- Slip and Fall/Tripping Accidents – Slippery wet floors, debris on the playground, or tripping over backpacks allowed to clog up an aisle are common causes of slip and fall or tripping accidents at schools. Slip and fall accidents seem fairly harmless initially, but a physician’s analysis often reveals whiplash, concussions, sprains, broken bones, and even things like brain damage or spinal cord injuries. While falls may be common, some can be quite disastrous—even deadly.
- Bullying – A school can be held responsible for bullying-related injuries like depression, dropping out, insomnia, poor attendance (skipping class), post-traumatic stress, drop in grades and school performance, or even suicidal thoughts if they failed to protect the student. If your child has repeatedly reported the bullying and it is still continuing, please reach out to an attorney and start documenting all related occurrences.
- Fighting – Furthermore, if the bully has physically assaulted your child (pushing, pulling hair, scratching, spitting on, tripping, etc.), this is also grounds for a schoolyard injury lawsuit. Even if a fight breaks out between friends (no bully involved) and a serious injury results, the school may still be liable for improper supervision.
- School Bus Accidents – While school bus crashes are pretty rare, school buses running over students is not terribly uncommon. Most school buses still are not equipped with seat belts, which makes the injuries that young people suffer if there is a crash worse. Furthermore, children are largely unsupervised on a school bus. There is one adult on board for as many as 72 children, and that adult’s main focus is driving, not childcare, discipline, or supervision. This means one kid can assault another kid on the bus, and there is a good chance of it going unnoticed.
How to Tell If Your Child Is Being Bullied in a Schoolyard?
Bullying is not always as easy to spot as, “Oh, my son got beat up at recess.” Bullying is humiliating for children, so they often try to hide it. To be pushed around and tormented by another person is embarrassing. Younger children often don’t even understand that they are victims of bullying. They usually just think the bully is a mean person or that the things the bully says are true, so, therefore, it’s not abusive. Consider the following:
- Anti-bullying campaigns at schools only reduce bullying by 25%.
- Over 40% of students who are being bullied believe that the bullying will continue.
- Twenty percent (1 in 5) of children are being bullied at school, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
- More students who identify as girls report being bullied than those who identify as boys (24% v. 17%).
- Bullying most commonly occurs: in the stairway or hall (43%), in class (42%), during lunch (27%), walking to or from school (22%), on the internet or via text messaging (15%), in a locker room or restroom (12%), and onboard the bus (8%).
- Children are most commonly bullied about: their physical appearance or a certain demographic category they belong to (ethnicity/race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability).
On-going bullying can have serious consequences for young people. Bullied students believe that bullying has lowered their self-esteem (27%), impacted their friendships and relationships (19%), hurt their academic performance (19%), and led to a loss of physical well-being in some way, such as weight gain or an eating disorder, for example (14%). Kids who are getting bullied are twice as likely to suffer negative health consequences, like ulcers, unexplained headaches and stomach aches, or social anxiety. Talk to your child if you notice a drop in self-esteem or other changes. Look for signs of bullying.
Call a San Francisco Schoolyard Injury Lawyer Now
Aside from school bus crashes, it is challenging to get a lawsuit to “stick” to a school district. Your choice of schoolyard injury lawyer will have a big impact on the success of your case. At the Cartwright Law Firm, we take cases like these on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t need to pay us anything up front. Please reach out to us today to set up a free case review and consultation.