Active outdoor play positively contributes to children’s health, creativity, and development. School playgrounds are particularly beneficial, offering the opportunity to socialize and make new friends.
But, playgrounds can also present genuine risks and hidden dangers.
If your child is seriously injured at school, it can be a traumatic experience for the whole family. You place a great deal of trust in teachers and other school staff, so it’s only natural to feel angry when your child is injured on their watch.
As a parent, you want to know who is responsible if your child is injured while at school. The answer to that question is often quite complicated and can vary widely depending on the facts and circumstances of your situation.
If you’re wondering who’s liable for school playground injuries, read on to learn more about the law and how to protect your child’s well-being.
Playground equipment is continually designed to meet strict safety standards, but thousands of children are injured every year on playgrounds across the country.
In fact, playground-related injuries are one of the most common types of school injuries. Slips and falls are particularly problematic, accounting for up to 75% of playground injuries.
Most playground injuries are simply accidents, but injuries can also occur if a school fails to maintain its playground equipment or remove potential hazards.
My Child Has Been Injured on the School Playground – What Should I Do Now?
If your son or daughter comes home with broken bones or other injuries from suspected negligence, take the following steps to protect your child:
- Ensure your child receives the appropriate medical care immediately. Let your doctor know if you suspect any unusual circumstances and ask your child to share an honest account of what happened at school.
- Talk to your child. Your child may be afraid to talk about their injury for fear of punishment. Let them know it’s safe to openly discuss the situation.
- Contact the school administration. Ask teachers and other employees about the incident, and be sure to note any inconsistencies between their account what your child told you.
- If possible, document everything associated with the accident. This includes photographs of the injuries, communications with school employees, and your child’s account of the incident.
If your child’s injury was due to negligence on behalf of the school, proving liability is possible. If you have any lingering suspicions, don’t be afraid to contact an attorney.
When it comes to negligence, your family is entitled to compensation for your child’s medical expenses and pain and suffering. However, these cases can be extremely complicated and you will need an experienced personal injury law firm to help guide you through the process.
Who is Liable if My Child is Injured on the School Playground?
Determining who’s liable if your child is injured on school grounds isn’t always straightforward.
To ensure students are adequately protected from accidental injuries, a school board and its employees are legally obliged to do everything possible to protect their students from reasonably foreseeable risk of harm or injury.
Under Occupier’s Liability Act in Ontario, school boards and principals are held responsible for the safety of students in their institution.
An Overview of the Child Protection Policy in Schools
School administrators and teachers are expected to abide by the Reasonably Prudent Parent Doctrine. This regulation states that while a child is at school, the teacher assumes the responsibility and duties of the child’s parents
A school is also responsible for providing a safe environment for students. This includes eliminating any dangerous conditions, repairing and maintaining equipment on school grounds, and ensuring students receive adequate supervision while they’re at school.
When the school fails to uphold these duties and responsibilities, the law says they are negligent.
Am I Eligible to Make a Claim?
Depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of your child’s injury, you can file a claim against the school.
However, there are several legislations and legal clauses in place to protect the school in cases of child injury.
To decide whether a school employee violated his or her legal duties, several factors must be taken into consideration, including the following:
- Did the school have an adequate plan of supervision and protection for the students?
- Did the teacher use reasonable care to prevent the student from being injured?
- Was the incident that led to the student’s injury foreseeable? (Meaning was the teacher aware of an existing danger or condition.)
In addition to negligence, a court will also consider whether the accident was preventable. If a teacher was absent at the time of the incident, but the accident wasn’t preventable, the school may not necessarily be held liable.
A successful claim would have to prove that the accident could have been prevented with appropriate teacher supervision.
If you’re unsure whether to file a claim, a personal injury lawyer can help you better understand your rights and determine if negligence was a contributing factor.
Gathering Evidence for Your Claim
If you decide to file a claim, you’ll need to prepare your case and begin to gather evidence.
Your evidence must prove your child’s injuries are directly linked to the accident that took place at school. For example, if your child fell off faulty playground equipment and broke their leg, you need copies of their hospital medical chart to verify the fall caused the break.
Photographs and witness statements are valuable, but you must also have proof of your child’s damages. Damages can be proven with medical records or bills, such as copies of a hospital medical chart or therapy bills.
When to Hire an Attorney
If your child has suffered serious injuries on a playground, such as broken bones, head trauma, or deep wounds, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is strongly advised.
With so much at stake, it’s crucial to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side. These cases are often complex, and a single mistake can jeopardize your claim.