Summer is ending, which means it’s time for Florida kids to head back to school. As your kids head back to the classroom, you’ll be dealing with school supplies, homework, projects, and extracurricular activities.
Sometimes, you might also have to deal with school injuries.
Slip and falls are some of the most common school injuries because there is ample opportunity for a slip and fall to occur. Whether it’s due to a freshly mopped or waxed floor, running down the hall, a spill in the cafeteria, a backpack left out in a classroom aisle, playing on a playground, or numerous other factors, your child might slip, trip, or fall on school property.
Most school slip and fall accidents tend to be minor with kids getting up, dusting themselves off, and continuing with their day as if nothing happened. However, some school slip and fall accidents might cause more serious injuries, which could end up being both financially and emotionally costly to you and your family.
If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, it’s important as a parent to know what you should do if your child is injured during a slip and fall at a Florida school.
Was the School Negligent in My Child’s Slip and Fall?
When it comes to figuring out who is responsible for a slip and fall injury, it’s important to determine if the accident was caused by negligence.
When you have an abundance of kids in one area, they’re bound to get in each other’s way and slip and falls might occur. Unless this is caused by an intentional act, you’ll most likely have to chalk it up as an accident. Depending on the circumstances of the slip and fall, though, you might realize the school is to blame.
Schools have a duty of care to their students and are supposed to provide them with a safe environment. If the school is negligent in that duty of care, and your child is injured as a result of that negligence, you might be able to hold the school liable for your child’s injuries.
In order to sue a school for negligence, you will have to prove four elements:
- The school had a duty of care to your child – this will be easy as long as your child is enrolled as a student at the school;
- The school breached their duty of care;
- Your child suffered an injury; and
- Your child’s injury was directly caused by the school’s breach in their duty of care.
Some examples of negligence that could potentially result in a slip and fall injury might include:
- Inadequate teacher supervision
- Failure to properly maintain school buses
- Improper maintenance of playground equipment
- Failure to clear sidewalks or school walkways and hallways from weather or other hazards
- Improper maintenance of school stairways, handrails, etc.
Can I Sue a Florida School for Negligence?
Suing a school can be a complicated process – especially if it’s a public school – so before you do anything, you should contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney to determine the best way to proceed.
A public school is considered a government entity and experiences “sovereign immunity.” This generally means that the school and its employees are immune from lawsuits unless there are specific circumstances involved. Luckily for parents, one of these specific circumstances is when a school or one of its employees is negligent and that negligence contributes to or causes a student’s injury.
While this is good news, filing a lawsuit against a government entity involves a slew of specific steps and procedures. Failing to properly complete these steps may result in delays or even a dismissal of your claim. A highly skilled lawyer will ensure that these procedures are followed properly and on time to prevent any hindrances to your case.
Typically, you will first have to file a Notice of Claim that describes the slip and fall accident, the negligence involved, the student’s injuries, and the amount of compensation you would like to receive.
In our state, you have to file a Notice of Claim within three years of the accident. Once the notice has been filed, you cannot file a lawsuit until the claim has been denied or 180 days have passed.
If the school is private instead of public, regardless of whether it is a religious or secular school, it is not considered a government entity and you can usually proceed by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
If your child was injured in a slip and fall accident at school, reach out to a knowledgeable Florida slip and fall attorney to discuss your case and fight for your right to compensation.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1998. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.