On a daily basis, parents nationwide entrust their school districts and scholastic institutions with the care of their children. Parents have a significant amount of faith in these schools to not only provide their children with the valuable education they need, but to also safeguard them from harm during the school day. When a student is hurt because a school district has established negligent policies, all families with children enrolled in classes in that school district are affected.
No child should be at risk of harm while under the care of an academic institution. If your child has been harmed because of negligent school-district policies or actions, call school-district negligence lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to discuss your legal options.
What is school district negligence?
School districts bear the responsibilities of ensuring that students receive quality educations from safe and well-trained instructors, guaranteeing that their properties are secure and well-maintained, and reacting swiftly and appropriately to any problems that may arise. Any of the following deficiencies are considered to be school-district negligence:
- Under-training faculty and staff members
- Failing to maintain school properties
- Negligently hiring faculty and staff members
- Failing to address safety hazards
- Providing poor or inadequate responses to problems
- Failing to provide a secure campus
- Poorly preparing for anticipated natural disasters
The Law of School-district Liability
State School-district Standards are generally prescribed by statute and may vary from state to state. Such standards may relate to matters such as licensure, staff development, student services, and safe and healthful facilities.
School-district liability for injuries sustained by students while in a school’s custody and care is generally determined under the legal theory of negligence, which requires proof by a preponderance of the evidence of a school district’s duty of care, a violation of that duty, an injury that is caused by the violation of duty, and legally compensable damages resulting from the injury. In many states school-district liability may curtailed or eliminated by public immunity laws.
Duties of School Districts
Under the laws of most states, school districts have a duty to ensure that school employees properly supervise students within their custody and care. If, for example, a teacher leaves children unattended and an injury occurs to a child while the teacher is absent, the school district may be held liable in a negligence action for the child’s injury if the teacher’s failure to supervise is found to have been a cause of the child’s injury-causing accident. Likewise, if a teacher remains with children but is inadequately attentive, negligence may also be attributed to the school district if the teacher’s inattentiveness was a cause of the child’s injury.
Vicarious Liability of School Districts
Generally, the negligence of an employee of a school district rather than that of the school district itself is determined to have been a cause of injury sustained by a child under the employee’s care. When school-district policies are not at fault, but a district employee’s negligence leads to injury, the school district may be held vicariously liable for the employee’s negligence. In other words, the negligence of the employee will be attributed to the school district as if the school district itself had committed the negligent act.
In a great many cases in which school districts have been found liable for injuries sustained by children while in the custody and care of school employees, the school district’s liability is vicarious rather than direct.
In some cases, however, school districts have been relieved of vicarious liability when an employee’s negligent actions departed significantly from normal school duties. A teacher’s intentional tort, for example, may lead to a school district’s absolution from vicarious liability for a child’s resulting injuries.
Direct Liability of School Districts
If a broad school-district policy, rather than the negligence of a school-district employee, is found to have been a cause of a child’s school-related injury, the school district may be held directly rather than vicariously liable.
A school district might also be held directly liable for a child’s injuries if, for example, the school district’s negligent hiring and training of employees is found to have been a cause of a child’s injuries.
School-district Liability for Sports Injuries
Many states absolve a school district from liability for injuries sustained by children during certain sports-related activities. The parents of students engaging in sports often sign releases stating that the parents and children assume the risk of injury while engaging in the particular sport.
If, on the other hand, an injury occurs during school sports activities due to actions of a coach or other instructor that increased the child’s risk of injury over that which would normally attach to participation in the particular sport, the coach and school district may be held liable in a negligence action for the child’s resulting injuries.
School-district Liability for Dangerous Conditions on School Grounds
School districts have also been found liable for injuries to children sustained as a result of dangerous conditions on school grounds. Such conditions may include defective or poorly maintained playground equipment, defective or poorly maintained lab equipment, walkways and stairways that are not kept free of obstructions or are allowed to become dangerously slippery, exits that do not work properly and cannot be safely used in case of fire, and lack of or inadequate fire extinguishers, sprinklers, and smoke alarms.
Under the statutory laws of some states, liability of school districts for injuries caused by dangerous public-school premises conditions may attach only when a substantial danger exists that is not apparent to those properly using the property in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
If your child has been injured at school because of negligent school-district policies or practices, you may be entitled to damages in compensation from those responsible. Contact school-district negligence lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn how you can obtain the justice you deserve and take the actions necessary to incite a positive change in policy.