Taking your child to school or daycare used to be an easy transition. You knew they were going to be learning the basic fundamentals of socialization and the skills they’d need for their education. But most of all, you knew they were going to be almost as safe there as they’d be with you.
Today, there is a record high number of parents who are afraid to send their child to school. They worry about the security in their child’s daycare or school setting. They worry about their child’s mental health, bullying, school shootings, and more. But what they usually don’t worry about is their child becoming injured while on school grounds.
However, these accidents happen more frequently than we think. Injuries like trip and falls, broken pieces of playground equipment, and concussions or other head injuries are common, and school violence has escalated over the past decade to never-before-seen numbers.
It’s important to be aware of the dangers possible at schools and daycares, but not to continually stress over them. Understanding the most common ways your child could be injured lets you talk to them about these dangers and can help them to avoid or prevent an injury.
The Most Common Forms of Injuries on School Grounds
Just because your child is in school does not mean they are immune to harm. Serious injuries can happen anywhere and it’s even scarier when we as parents are not there to help our child.
There are certain aspects of schools and daycares that are more prone to danger than others. Here are the 4 most common forms of injuries that happen on school or daycare grounds:
- Accidents related to sports and recreation. The number one cause of musculoskeletal injuries to children in school arise from activities related to sports. They comprise almost 3 million emergency room visits every year in school-aged children.
Sprains and strains are common, but children who are still growing can incur injury to their growth plates, too. These injuries can affect how they continue to grow. Other injuries can include broken bones or fractures of the spine, problems due to dehydration or heat stroke, and concussions or other brain injuries.
Although these injuries are usually accidental, if they were the result of someone’s negligence, they can turn into a personal injury claim. If the coach did not train the athlete well or no one was supervising adequately, that is negligence. If the area where the activity was taking place was not maintained and caused the injury, that, too, is negligence.
- Playground equipment. Manufacturers attempt to make children’s playground equipment as safe as possible, but nothing is completely foolproof. Playground injuries ranging from mild to severe that occurred from school accidents account for over 200,000 emergency room visits annually.
These accidents come from monkey bars and other climbing equipment and swings, predominantly. Abrasions are common, but more severe harm such as brain injuries, broken bones, and even injuries resulting in amputation do occur.
Falls and strangulation due to swings or jump ropes account for almost 80% of all playground fatalities.
Personal injury claims due to playground equipment injuries are often based on negligence. Either the person who was supposed to be supervising was negligent in their duty or the school or maintenance person did not maintain the equipment satisfactorily. It also may have been a manufacturer’s negligence in selling defective or faulty equipment.
- Slip or trip and falls. Also called premises liability claims, these types of accidents occur when a hazard on the premises causes a child to slip or trip and fall, sustaining injury. In a school setting, the burden of care of any school grounds falls to the school district. In a daycare, the burden goes to the property owners.
Care of the premises includes watching for and eliminating any hazardous obstacles or areas on the grounds. This means that the person in charge must actively search out areas that could possibly become a danger in addition to correcting known hazards.
Injuries that occur in parking lots, hallways, swimming pools, stairways, or anywhere on the school grounds because of hazards on the premises fall back to negligence of the property owner or school district. These types of injuries comprise almost 55% of school or daycare-based accidents.
- Violence in school. The scariest type of injury for most parents, this happens when someone intentionally set out to cause harm to another individual. Teenage years are the time when these injuries are the most prevalent, accounting for almost 500,000 nonfatal but violent incidents each year.
This category includes violence due to student-to-student and teacher-to-student bullying, fights, gang violence, and assaults.
Because this violence is both physically and mentally difficult, it is important that schools diligently work to avoid these types of injuries. School violence can run the gamut from mild pushing and shoving to fatal gunshot injuries.
This type of injury on daycare or school grounds occasionally can be tied back to neglect if the adults were alerted to the potential threat and never stepped in to stop it.
Steps to Take if Your Child Was Injured on School Grounds
For most of us, we have never been in the position – or wanted to be in the position – in which we have to deal with a serious injury to our child that happened at school. But when it does, adrenaline kicks in and our paternal and maternal instincts take over.
The first thing we want to know is that our child is “okay.” Okay is relative, though, depending on the situation.
When you get the call or notification that your child is injured, do what you need to do to assess the situation and take care of your child. Everything else comes after that, but this is the guide for once your child is out of immediate danger.
1. Seek medical attention. Whether it occurred on daycare, preschool, or school grounds, your child’s health is your first priority. Even if you think the injury was minor, you should always get medical attention and get the injury documented. Minor problems often turn into more severe issues over the next few days.
If your child had a head injury, which is any impact or blow to the head, it is extra critical for them to get medical care. In concussions it is common for the symptoms to be delayed in showing up. Your child may be acting perfectly fine one minute and in physical distress the next.
Be sure to document everything that happened when things calm down and you have a few minutes to think. The chain of events may not seem important today, but if you file a lawsuit down the road if things become worse or your medical expenses keep piling up, you will be glad that you had these notes.
Keep a file of any medical records, bills, and out-of-pocket expenses. You may be eligible to have these reimbursed later.
2. Determine who is responsible for the medical bills. You may pay your child’s medical bills up front so they receive care, but if there is a legal liability that you can establish against the school or facility, they may be responsible for reimbursing you and covering other expenses.
When you talk to a personal injury attorney, like those at Hershey Law, the attorney can dig for the legal chain of liability and tell you whether you have a viable claim or not. This will be based on the degree of negligence or intention involved in your child’s injury.
Negligence occurs when there was inadequate supervision that resulted in your child becoming injured. It could also mean that the playground equipment or property area when the incident occurred was not maintained properly or that the conditions were unsafe or unsanitary. If the injury was from a toxic chemical or substance that should not have been allowed on the school property, that would be considered negligence, as well.
Intentional acts fall under another category. Someone who willfully or maliciously caused injury to your child in the form of battery, assault, intentional emotional distress, or sexual assault would be liable for damages to the victim.
3. Find out whether the location is considered public or private. The final factor in determining liability depends on whether the grounds on which the accident occurred was public or private. If it was part of the public school district, it is considered a government entity and must go through a different process in order for a claim to be filed.
While every lawsuit is subject to legalities such as statute of limitations and timely filing limits, government agencies being sued have more stringent rules to follow. If the incident happened on public school grounds, it is even more important that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
If it was a private daycare, however, you have more time to take care of your child’s health before handling the legalities and red tape necessary to file a claim.
If You are Living the Nightmare of Your Child’s School Injury, Call Us
The expert attorneys at Hershey Law know what we are doing, and we care about you and your family. Call us today to see how we can help you in your situation. The consultation is free, but the advice may be priceless.