Determining who might be responsible for an injury that occurred in a child’s school playground is often difficult. Even if the school or a school employee didn’t directly cause the injury, the school district might be legally responsible, and obtaining just compensation can be challenging.

Playground injuries are usually due to either poor maintenance or design of playground equipment or lack of adequate supervision. If another child injured your child on a school playground, the other student or parents may not be responsible. If a teacher failed to provide adequate supervision, the school district would be at fault. Likewise, if your child was injured in a school bus accident caused by the driver of another car, the school district might be considered negligent.

School Districts Share Sovereign Immunity with Governments

School districts, like the federal government and all branches and agencies at the state, county, and municipal level of government, enjoy what is called “sovereign immunity,” which means that they can’t be sued except under specific circumstances. To make a case to receive compensation for your child’s injuries, you must bring a civil suit in court against the school district. You may need legal assistance with this. If your child attends a private school, the grounds for filing suit might involve breach of contract. Otherwise, private schools are generally subject to the same laws as public schools if they receive any form of federal funding.

Initiating a Claim Against a School District

Before a lawsuit can be filed against a school district, most states require that you file a formal written claim with the school district’s clerk or other specified official of the school district no more than 60 to 90 days after the injury. The claim must describe the nature of the incident and injuries to the student, so that the school district can investigate the incident. In most states, failing to file a claim within the required time period will prevent you from later filing any type of lawsuit in court against the school district. Once you have filed the claim, you must wait until either the school district has denied the claim or a certain amount of time (typically three to six months) has passed without any action by the school district.

After you have filed with a government administrative agency to “exhaust the remedies” that are available to you, the administrative agency may launch an investigation into the public school district to determine if a violation has occurred. If so, with evidence, they may require the school to take action to remedy the situation. They will also tell you who can be held liable, the particular school branch, the entire district, or a single teacher. If the administrative agency investigation is not enough to resolve your complaint, you may then be able to file a lawsuit against the district. You will probably need a lawyer to help you with this.

Learn more about issues impacting safety, well-being, and justice at rizklaw.com. To schedule a confidential appointment to discuss a claim with an attorney, call (503) 245-5677 or email info@rizklaw.com.