Did you know that more than 14 million children are injured in one way or another each year? Beyond that, about one quarter of those injuries occur on school property. When you factor in the number of hours that children spend on campus during the school year, it is no surprise just how many injuries do occur on the property or during school-related activities. If your child is injured at school, then one of the things you will want to find out as quickly as possible would be who is at fault.
The actual answer can vary wildly depending on the situation and what actually caused the injury. However, before you can determine whether or not you could file a civil suit and hold someone liable for damages, you do have to determine that fault. Once again, laws can vary from one state to the next as far as fault and negligence. However, there are some general facts that you should know. The more you know about the possibilities in your case, the better prepared you will be to meet with your attorney and make the right decisions.
Intentional Acts vs. Negligence
One of the important factors when it comes to injuries at school will be whether the act was intentional or due to negligence. If the act was intentional, then it is something called an intentional tort. This means there was an intent to hurt someone involved. In other words, someone did something on purpose to hurt your child.
The most common type of intentional tort in school injuries would be bullying or fights. However, there are cases when an adult working at the school in some way could intentionally injure the child as well.
In other words, if an accident happens and someone hurts your child without meaning to, this is not an intentional tort. It is an accident. Negligence may still come into play though. However, if someone attacks your child in the hallways and injures them, then this would fall under the intentional tort of battery.
Whether the injury was intentional or a case of negligence matters in some ways, but not in others. No matter what, the person at fault will be held responsible (as long as fault is proven). However, the scope of the case could be changed depending on whether it was an intentional injury or not. Of course, in some cases, an intentional injury could also result in a criminal case too.
There are several types of intentional torts that could come into play in school injuries. They include:
• Slander or libel – This means that someone is making false statements about someone else to the point that it damages their reputation.
• False imprisonment – This occurs when someone is held or their freedom is restricted against their will.
• Assault and battery – This involves the intentional act of causing someone harm. The two are different. Assault could be someone simply raising a fist toward someone. Battery means they actually hit with that fist.
• Wrongful death – This can occur with intentional or negligent acts that result in someone else’s death.
Three of those torts can result in criminal cases as well: wrongful death, assault, and battery. Whether or not they will be determined a crime depends almost completely on the laws where you live.
There is a big difference between an intentional tort and a crime. An intentional tort, if not ruled a crime, will be handled solely in civil court. As the victim, you will be able to sue the person who caused the harm and seek monetary damages. If it is ruled a crime, you can still bring a civil suit, but the person will also be brought up on criminal charges that could result in jail, probation, community service, or fines. However, criminal courts will not award you money as the victim.
With school injuries, just as with any other personal injury case, it will be your responsibility to prove fault. You have to show how the person who harmed your child was negligent in some way causing the injury, or did so intentionally. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney could mean the difference in proving whether or not someone is at fault. However, there are a few things you need to know. Liability due to negligence requires one of the following things to be met:
• The person who was injured must have been where they were supposed to be. In other words, if your child broke into the school and trespassed, then the school may not be held liable.
• The negligent person had to have known about a dangerous condition if that condition was what caused the injury. In other words, if someone spills water from the fountain and two seconds later your child slips and falls, this may not have provided someone from the school enough time to clean up the accident.
• If the person who caused the injury was an employee of the school, then likely the school itself will be held liable.
• If the person who caused the injury was another student, then the student and his or her parents will be held responsible.
Proving negligence can be more difficult than you may realize. That’s because not only do you have to prove that someone was responsible, you also have to show that they knew about a dangerous situation and did not take care of it.
If your child has been injured at a school, then you will definitely want to determine fault. That’s because who was at fault will have a massive impact on whether or not you can file a personal injury suit. Whether intentional or accidental, someone can still be held liable as long as your child wasn’t responsible or didn’t break the rules, resulting in an injury. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to handle your case and make the best decisions for the best possible outcome, which will likely include damages to cover medical expenses, as well as possibly pain and suffering.