Understanding School Liability for Student Injuries on the Premises

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Understanding School Liability for Student Injuries on the Premises

Personal injuries on campuses around the country can happen at a moment’s notice in a number of different ways. Tripping, falling, slipping, sports injuries, chemistry class accidents, etc. The list goes on and on. Although the liability of the student causing an injury may be clear, the liability of the school for an injury caused by another student may not be.

For instance, at a pep rally in Tallahassee, a student was injured during the event and was recently awarded $100,000, putting the school board and the school in the hot seat, legally. There are certain circumstances where a school, like this one, may be held liable for injuries caused to a student by a fellow student, event or freak accident. Let’s take a look for a better understanding.

Injuries Caused by Dangerous Conditions

Schools have the responsibility to maintain a safe and healthy environment for all students. School officials are installed to act in the place of parents when children are in their care at school. School officials and teachers have the responsibility to prevent foreseeable dangers from harming students.

Dangerous conditions on school premises may include things like unsafe playground equipment, school events (i.e. pep rallies), frayed electrical wires in classes, leaking roofs, unsanitary cafeteria conditions, mold, toxic materials, dirty bathrooms, and more.

Injuries Caused by Other Students

Schools have to take reasonable steps to keep students from causing harm to one another. At the bare minimum, this responsibility should include having enough staff on hand to oversee the students on campus. Teachers, recess and cafeteria monitors, bus drivers, and crossing guards serve the purpose of ensuring student safety.

Moreover, schools must use care when hiring teachers, physical education teachers, coaches, and other staff. Schools need to take responsibility when it comes to hiring new employees and have a thorough background check when it comes to someone’s past criminal and professional life. For example, a school could be held liable for the sexual abuse or exposure of a student at the hands of a staff member if the school knew that the offending employee had a history of molesting children.

Public School Immunity

State laws used to give public schools immunity from student injury suits because courts considered schools to be performing a governmental role. Now many states in the country have changed previous laws and have put public schools in the crosshairs to suits in certain cases.

Some states hold public schools responsible for student injuries caused by negligence. On the other hand, some other states allow recovery against public schools only if the schools acted recklessly.

Premises Liability

A school’s responsibility for injuries occurring on its campus grounds is a sort of liability. In premises liability, the person in control of the property is accountable for certain injuries that occur on school property.

First off, someone at the target of being sued must be in control of the property where the injury took place. In this case, it would be the school district has authority over the grounds. Next, the person(s) who was hurt must be someone who was expected to be on the property, like students. And finally, the person in charge of the premises must have been negligent. This means that the defendant knew or should have known of a danger but failed to protect students.

About PGUI

Professional Governmental Underwriters, Inc., is a full-service risk management company dedicated to assisting public, educational and non-profit entities in the management of their professional liability exposures including educators liability insurance. We are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art professional underwriting management and loss control advisory services on behalf of our designated carriers. For more information, call us toll-free at (800) 586-6502.