Back to school season is upon us, which means some parents will receive frantic calls from school personnel telling them that their child was injured. We understand parents are often in shock, often because they don’t know what happened. We send children to school with the expectation that they will be kept safe. One phone call can shatter that belief.
Please call Correll Law Firm if your child is injured. You might have legal rights to seek compensation from the school for the accident. Not every attorney is prepared to represent child victims, so contact the Winchester personal injury lawyer at this firm today.
Common School Accidents
Children can get injured in many ways, such as:
- Slip and falls
- Falling off playground equipment
- Food poisoning
- School bus accidents
- Field trip accidents
- Exploding equipment, such as computers or Bunsen burners
- Athletic injuries
- Assault by students or staff members
Children can end up at the hospital struggling with concussions, fractures, neck injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Young children in particular could suffer emotional scars from an accident. Please contact our Winchester personal injury lawyer to talk about your case.
Schools should take great care to keep their premises safe. They should also provide adequate security. No one should be able to walk in off the street and gain access to your child. Unfortunately, many injuries are caused by lax safety or overlooking defects at the school.
Who is Responsible for an Accident?
Parents rightly expect a school to protect their children. Often, however, the school is to blame for the accident:
- Negligent repairs and maintenance. If your child was hurt by a defect on the property, the school is usually to blame. For example, floor tiles might be loose, leading to a fall, or playground equipment could fall apart. The school should regularly inspect its premises and fix any defects, or at least keep children away from dangerous hazards until they get fixed.
- Failure to supervise. Schools should supervise other students as well as staff members. Your child might have been assaulted on the playground because of insufficient teachers on duty.
- Negligent hiring. Schools should use sufficient care when hiring staff. They should perform background checks and speak to previous employers before hiring someone. Some schools cut corners because they are desperate to hire staff. As a result, they might hire someone with a criminal record who poses a threat to your child.
- Poor food preparation. Children can suffer food poisoning when a district fails to store and prepare food properly.
- Negligent operation of a school bus. A driver could be dangerous, distracted, or even drunk. Children can be injured when the bus goes off the road or collides with other vehicles. A negligent bus driver could also run over a child.
- Failure to enforce athletic competition rules. Many rules are designed to protect student-athletes. If the school doesn’t enforce the rules, your child could get hurt—and the school is accountable.
This is not an exhaustive list. Schools and their employees can injure children in many ways. Please reach out to Correll Law Firm to go over the accident based on the facts you know. Our firm might need to investigate to fully uncover what led to the injuries.
Why Personal Injury Cases with Children are Complicated
Children cannot form legal contracts when they are under 18, and a personal injury settlement is essentially a contract. For this reason, the process of settling cases involving child victims is somewhat different than for an adult. An adult can sign any agreement they want, even if another person thinks they are settling for too little.
A minor also cannot sue. Instead, Virginia law allows a “next friend” to file the lawsuit. One or both parents are next friends.
In most cases involving an injured child, a judge will need to sign off on the settlement. At a hearing, the judge can ask questions to determine if the settlement is fair. The judge might be interested in:
- The severity of your child’s injuries
- Anticipated future medical care
- Your child’s level of pain
- How the injuries have disrupted your child’s life
Correll Law Firm can negotiate and obtain approval for settlements. We also can structure a settlement so that parents get reimbursed for the medical care they paid for. However, most of the settlement will belong to your child, not the parents, such as compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Can You Sue a School or School District?
Accidents at school are slightly different from other accidents, like a slip and fall in a grocery store. Public school districts are government entities. Suing them raises certain complications because many governmental units are immune from lawsuits. Nonetheless, the state has made exceptions for many common accidents.
If your child attends private school, then filing a lawsuit is straightforward. However, you might have signed a waiver when enrolling your child, and this waiver purports to let the school district off the hook if your child is injured. We can review whether this waiver is legal.
Call Correll Law Firm as soon as possible. Our personal injury lawyer will review the facts. We can determine the correct steps for holding a school accountable for the accident. Schools owe duties to children, and they should pay compensation when they injure your child.
How Correll Law Firm Can Help
Parents might struggle to piece together what happened. Your child could be in a coma or feeling intense pain. Young children can’t express themselves well, either. Unfortunately, the school is not returning your calls. You deserve an adequate explanation of why your child was hurt.
Correll Law Firm can:
- Coordinate with the school to better understand the accident
- Find evidence to show the school failed to meet its duties to keep your child safe
- Document the extent of your child’s injuries
- Provide written notice to the school or district before the deadline
- Negotiate a settlement and get it approved by a judge
Call Our Winchester Personal Injury Lawyer for More Information
Parents need compassionate legal guidance when one of their loved ones is hurt. Never assume the school is eager to pay a settlement or even acknowledge their role in your child’s injuries. Call Correll Law Firm to speak with our lawyer today, 540-535-2005.