Children spend much of their time at school and are often injured during
the course of their time there. Sometimes, their injuries are caused by
dangerous conditions on school grounds or by the neglect or wrongdoing
of teachers or other school employees. If a child’s injury is attributable
to the school’s negligence, the child, with the help of his or her
parents, may have a
personal injury case against the school.
Children can be injured by many different types of accidents while at school.
They may fall on playground equipment, be injured in a playground fight,
or slip and fall at recess or in gym class. Sometimes, though, injuries
are caused by the school’s negligence. This may be the case if the
school failed to stop bullying, if playground equipment was dangerous,
if a janitor left floors wet without warning signs, or if a gym teacher
did not make accommodations for a child’s asthma.
To prove a school’s
negligence, the parents must show that:
- The school had a duty to protect the child;
- The school breached that duty;
- The child suffered harm; and
- The breach of the duty caused that harm.
Schools have special duties to protect their students and keep them safe.
They must ensure that the school grounds are not hazardous and be responsible
for the actions of their teachers and other school employees. They must
make sure that teachers are properly trained and that they adequately
supervise the children. School districts must also ensure that their teachers
are acting appropriately and not abusing the children.
If a school or employee breaches that duty, for example, by leaving children
unattended, by having defective equipment on the playground or in the
classroom, or by permitting teachers to mistreat the children, and a child
is injured as a result, the child may be able to recover damages from
Because public schools are government entities, the doctrine of
sovereign immunity sometimes protects school districts from lawsuits. Generally, sovereign
immunity does not apply, and an injured child’s parent can sue the
school district. But immunity does apply and lawsuits for personal injury
will be barred if the negligent school employee was acting outside his
or her official capacity or was acting with gross negligence or malice.
In that case, however, the child may be able to recover damages from the
negligent individual rather than the school district, though this means
that the recovery will generally be smaller.
For lawsuits against public schools, there are also other requirements
and limitations. The injured party must give the school district
notice of the suit within 180 days of the injury, in contrast with the general
three-year filing deadline for personal injury claims. Additionally, the
liability is limited to $400,000 per individual. Suing a negligent private school is much less
complex, as they are treated just like any other non-governmental entity.
Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You
School district lawsuits can be tricky, and it is essential to protect
our children’s best interests, so if your child has been injured
because of a school’s negligence, be sure to consult with an attorney.
Please contact a Maryland personal injury attorney at the
Law Office of Robert R. Castro for a free initial consultation.