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When Are Schools Liable for Student Injuries?

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 01, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Schools are entrusted with more than just the education of their students, they are entrusted with the safety of the children they seek to educate. When a student is injured due to a school's failure to keep the student safe, the student will likely have an injury claim that can be brought against the school.

School injuries can occur for many different reasons. Most injuries tend to be the result of school sponsored sports. However, fights, accidents, and even assaults on school property can result in injuries that a school can be held liable for. Like any other public or private establishment or business, a school has a duty to keep their premises safe. Students that suffer injuries on school property as a result of poor maintenance, or a dangerous condition, like a wet floor, will likely have a premises liability claim.

Sports Injuries

While sports injuries are the most common types of injuries that occur at schools, they are most frequently the type of injury that schools are not held liable for. Generally, students, or more accurately, their parents, must sign release of liability waivers in order to be allowed to participate in any school sport.

These releases and waivers will prohibit lawsuits for injuries that are the result of playing the sport under reasonable supervision. However, when coaches or school staff are negligent in their supervision or coaching, they can potentially face liability even if a waiver was signed. Additionally, waivers will usually not excuse intentional conduct or gross negligence.

Assaults, Bullies, and Shootings

Schools can be held liable if they were negligent in allowing an assault or bullying to occur. In order to show a school was negligent in allowing an assault or bullying, it would likely be required to show the school knew the assault was going to happen, or the bullying was going on, and did nothing to stop it. Bullying can have devastating effects, and schools that don't act to stop can face devastating consequences.

Schools can also face liability if an intruder or shooter causes harm to a student. While proving liability in intruder or shooting cases can be difficult, it is possible and has been done before.

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