Serious injuries on school property, like those recently experienced by three Alabama high school students, can lead to expensive medical bills, time missed from work for the parents, or even death. Unfortunately, recovering damages for those expenses can be especially difficult when an incident occurs on school property. This is because, unlike other establishments that may be subject to premises liability lawsuits, public schools are considered protected government agencies. There are, however, a few provisions in place to aid parents whose children have been injured at an Illinois public school.
Premises Liability Basics
For a premises liability case to be considered valid, it must contain three basic elements:
- The person or establishment being sued must have control of and be responsible for the property where the injury occurred;
- The person injured must be the type of person who the responsible party expected to be on the property;
- And the responsible party must have somehow been negligent in their actions (i.e. knew of a danger and failed to take reasonable steps to prevent death or injury).
Public School Premises Liability
When it comes to public schools, there are a few additional elements that must also be present. First, the injury or accident must have occurred during school hours, which typically excludes organized, extracurricular sports activities. Second, the injury must be considered “foreseeable,” meaning that the school knew of an existing problem, or should have known, and failed to take preventative action. Finally, the school or its employees must have acted “recklessly,” which means either intended to cause harm or showed indifference to the safety of others). Examples may include:
- An instructor fails to provide protective eye gear when performing an experiment in science or chemistry class,
- The school fails to provide proper monitoring on the playground and a child is beat up by a bully,
- A gym teacher ignores a note from the doctor and forces a child to participate in an activity that causes injury,
- The school knows that their monkey bars pose a hazard but does nothing about it, which results in a child falling and breaking a limb,
- And a school’s leaky, unrepaired roof leads to a slip and fall injury of one of its students.
If any one of the aforementioned elements are missing, the school may be afforded immunity. In addition, even if all conditions are present, the school may still be granted immunity based on various factors, circumstances, or additional provisions provided to them (i.e. discretionary acts, supervisions, maintenance issues, etc.) under the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act.
Child Injured Because of a School’s Reckless and Negligent Behavior? We Can Help
Because the stipulations for bringing a lawsuit against public schools are so complex, it is critical that parents seek the help of an experienced attorney. The legal team at Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur, P.C. has more than a century of combined experience in assisting victims of premises accidents and injuries. Contact an Aurora, Illinois premises liability attorney known for its personal service and track-record of success. Call 630-907-0909 and schedule your free initial consultation today.