Playground Trauma: Can You Sue If Your Child Is Injured At Recess?

If your child gets hurt at school, your first thought is probably getting him or her the medical treatment needed. But after you've taken care of the immediate issue, you may be wondering if someone was negligent in letting your child get hurt. Here are two common scenarios that involve violence or injury at school and when to get a personal injury attorney involved:

1. A bully physically injures your child.

These days, school bullies are usually not tolerated by school administration. But even with the anti-bullying messages that are repeated at school, sometimes a bigger or older child deliberately hurts your kid. 

In fact, bullying is more common than we'd like to think, with as many as 30 percent of kids in grades 6 through 10 reporting that they've been the target of bullies. 

The chances of successfully bringing a case against the school for failing to supervise or protect your child from harm depends a lot on what steps you've taken to inform the school about the problem. If you have had problems with one particular bully, and have documented all the instances of physical and mental abuse as well as contacted school officials with your concerns, an escalation of the bullying that results in injury may be possible. 

2. Your child was not properly supervised.

Parents have a reasonable expectation that there kids will be safe on the playground, the gym or the classroom and that adequate adult supervision will be in place. If your child falls or has an accident on school grounds, and there was no adult present to witness it, you may have a case of improper supervision. 

Other factors as to whether proper supervision was provided depend on:

  • The child's age. Younger children require more attention than older kids or teens.
  • What type of activity was taking place. If, for example, your child was reading in a classroom and fell off their chair, that's probably not a problem with inadequate supervision or negligence. But if kids are given knives in wood shop and not instructed on their use, and there's no teacher present when your child cuts off a finger, then you may have a case.
  • Whether circumstances could not have been reasonably foreseen. If a car runs into the school and a child is injured, that's an unlikely scenario that no reasonable adult could have prevented.

It can be tricky to file a lawsuit against a school district. In many cases, you must file a claim with the district. If that is not resolved in a reasonable way, then you may have an opportunity to bring a legal case against school officials. Talk to a personal injury attorney to find out what your rights and your child's rights are under the law and whether a case is warranted.