When you send your child off to school, you trust that they will be returned to you safely and harm-free. However, school injuries are more common than you might think. Children can become injured on the playground, on the bus, during P.E. class, or even during an argument or disagreement with another child. It is important to know and understand what you should do when your child calls you from school or returns home with injuries.
What are the most common accidents that children are likely to have at school?
There are a variety of different accidents that children may be involved in while at school that can lead to serious injuries, such as:
- School bus accidents: Before your child even makes it to school, they may become injured on the school bus. This may be due to a school bus accident or an incident that occurred on the bus, such as assault or a trip or fall.
- Playground accidents: Children are often injured on the playground. This is their time to get their energy out. Therefore, they may be running around and playing with other children without a care in the world. Trips and falls are very common on the playground. However, if an accident occurs, it may be because there was not enough supervision, the playground has not been maintained or kept up to date, or the grounds are dangerous for young children.
- P.E. class or sports accidents: P.E. class is supposed to be a fun time for children who enjoy playing sports. Of course, any type of sport can lead to injuries. However, it is the P.E. teacher or coach’s responsibility to supervise and ensure that the children do not become injured during this time. This means that broken or unmaintained equipment should not be played with. In addition, if a child needs a break, they should be given one.
- Slip and fall accidents: Janitors and cleaners are known to walk around and clean the hallways of the schools. However, children do not pay attention or care to read signs letting them know that the floor is wet. Therefore, when they decide to run or walk near a slippery floor, they may experience a slip and fall accident.
- Physical assault/fights between children: Just like adults, children typically do not always agree with each other. This may lead to fights in the classroom, on the playground, on the school bus, and more. However, it is the responsibility of the teachers, parents, and school staff to ensure that fighting and physical assault does not occur at school.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or items: Children who complain about being sick or not feeling well after being at school may have been exposed to toxic chemicals, such as asbestos or lead paint. This is usually a sign that a building has not been properly maintained, updated, or taken care of.
- Food poisoning: When the cafeteria at school serves food to your children, you most likely expect the food to be nutritious and safe to eat. However, if the food is contaminated or not cooked or stored correctly, your child may become sick with food poisoning.
What should you do after your child is injured at school?
If your child comes to you with injuries that they got at school, you may immediately become angry, alarmed, disappointed, and frustrated. This is natural as a parent as you want your child to be safe and protected anywhere that they go. However, it is important to take a deep breath, remain calm, and prepare to take action right away. Here are five steps you can take after learning about your child’s school injuries:
- Take your child to the hospital or a doctor’s office as soon as possible: It is crucial that you take your child to an emergency room, clinic, urgent care, or their primary doctor as quickly as possible. You should let the doctor know what happened, explain your child’s symptoms, and allow them to look at your child’s injuries to get an idea of the severity and causes.
- Report your child’s accident and injuries: You can file an accident or injury report with your child’s school. It is highly recommended that you do this and ask for a copy as proof that you reported it. This lets the school know that an accident or injury occurred and that you are aware of it.
- Find a lawyer and schedule a free consultation: Finding a Vancouver, WA personal injury lawyer for your child’s school accident is a critical step in this process. Once you believe that you may have found the right one – and we hope Philbrook Law Office is your choice – you should schedule your free consultation to begin discussing and going over your potential legal options. Our attorneys will provide valuable feedback and advice on what you should do and how to hold the school, teacher, or parents accountable for their negligence.
- Document everything: You and your attorney will work together to gather evidence to support your claim. This means that you will need to document everything, such as what the doctor says, your child’s medical treatment plan, ongoing symptoms, medical bills, and school absences.
- Schedule a meeting with the school to ensure that your child does not get hurt again: It is very important that you schedule a meeting with your child’s school to sit down and develop a plan on how to keep your child safe and ensure that they do not get hurt again.
What do Washington’s laws say about children being injured by other children?
According to RCW 4.24.190:
The parent or parents of any minor child under the age of eighteen years who is living with the parent or parents and who shall willfully or maliciously destroy or deface property, real or personal or mixed, or who shall willfully and maliciously inflict personal injury on another person, shall be liable to the owner of such property or to the person injured in a civil action at law for damages in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars.
This means that if a child physically attacks or assaults another child, it is usually the parents who are held accountable for their child’s behavior and actions. If your child is harmed by another student, you will most likely file a personal injury claim against the child’s parents.
When your child walks out your front door to go to school each day, it is expected that they will arrive home in the same condition that they left. If this does not happen, you have the right to pursue compensation for your child’s injuries and losses. Call Philbrook Law Office or submit our contact form to learn how to handle a school injury case as well as to discuss your potential legal options. Our personal injury lawyers in Battle Ground and Vancouver, WA will work endlessly to ensure that your child does not go through this again and that they receive the justice they deserve. We are available to assist you in Oregon as well.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.