Head Injuries at School – What if Your Child is Injured?

Schools assume a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the students who attend. This is not just a moral responsibility, but a legal one, as well. We all know that accidents happen, but if an accident happens because the school or university didn't keep up a safe environment for the students, staff, or visitors to the school, they can and should be held legally accountable.

There are many types of injury that can occur on school property, but one of the most concerning for parents is a head injury. Whether it's a concussion, traumatic brain injury, or any of many other possible types of head injury, these can be potentially life-changing events. If your student has unfortunately suffered an injury of this type, litigating against the educational institution might prevent another student from suffering the same fate.

If you're interested in pursuing litigation against a school, you need to have an experienced attorney, like Joseph D. Lento. The Lento Law Firm has spent many years advising families in personal injury cases against schools. If necessary, he can work with you to get the justice and compensation you deserve.

When Is a School Legally Liable for a Head Injury?

Students get injured. That's a well understood fact of life. Head injuries are more common while playing contact sports, but if your student receives a head injury while in the classroom, on the bus, or on the playground, that is not normal. If school officials knowingly allowed some sort of hazard into their buildings or on their campus, that can be considered negligence.

To have successful litigation, you and your attorney will need to demonstrate that officials were aware of potential threats and failed to take any actions to keep the students in their care safe. In addition to premises liability that applies to injuries in any business, schools have a special responsibility. They act “in loco parentis” for minors, which is Latin for “In place of the parent.” This means they assume legal responsibility for the care of children while they are in school or participating in school-sponsored events. This includes school buses, extracurricular activities, and more.

An experienced attorney, like Joseph Lento, can help you determine if the school is liable and owes you compensation.

Some Examples of This Type of Head Injury

School cafeteria or dining hall - There are many opportunities for a slip or fall in a cafeteria or dining hall. Whether it is the result of general horseplay, tripping over another student's backpack, or a wet floor caused by condensation dripping from a steam table, falls in a cafeteria could easily lead to a serious head injury.

Hallways - School and university hallways get a lot of traffic, and it can be easy for a corner of carpeting or linoleum tile to come loose and create a tripping hazard. Just like a cafeteria or dining hall, spills or water leaks can produce slipping hazards. And as always with kids, whether they're K-12 or university-level students, general horseplay can lead to a fall, including possible head injuries.

Sidewalks - This can be any walkway on school property. Temperature change and/or wet weather can cause concrete to buckle or crack leading to possible tripping hazards. Schools have a responsibility to maintain the sidewalks around school buildings or even on the campus quad. Failure to do so can lead to many possible injuries, including head injuries.

School Bus - A school bus can be rife with opportunities for injury if great care isn't taken by the driver and school officials. Wet or snowy weather can make the steps onto the bus or the aisle between seats incredibly slick. Unfortunately, the school bus is also an area where physical bullying can often take place. Any of these situations have the potential to lead to a head injury.

Assault or abuse - Sadly, this is a reality that occurs far too often in our society, but it does happen. Whether the physical abuse is from a teacher or another student, it can lead to a serious head injury. Schools have a responsibility to do everything in their power to keep students safe from violence on school property.

Personal Injury Lawsuits Explained

Injuries happen all the time and it's not always someone else's fault. This is an unfortunate fact of life that we're all too familiar with. Litigation is not always an option.

However, sometimes a person or entity - in this case a school - is actually responsible for the injury. In these cases, litigation is possible to recover financial compensation for the losses suffered because of the incident, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Consulting a good attorney with years of experience handling injury cases against schools, like Joseph Lento, is a good first step, after attending to the immediate medical needs of the injured student, toward finding out if you have a case where litigation is warranted.

Your ability to sue a school depends on the specific circumstances of the injury, and your attorney can help you sort through all the details of the case.

Be aware that most personal injury cases are settled before a trial. The parties involved can settle and end the case at any time during the process - even before a complaint is filed. This is why you will want to hire an attorney right away.

Why Suing a School is Different Than Other Lawsuits

Suing a person or entity who is responsible for a student's head injury seems like a pretty simple proposition, but government agencies, including schools, enjoy a special legal status called sovereign immunity. This is a rule that protects such agencies from being sued. This can make it difficult to sue a school, but there are some legal workarounds.

You can waive sovereign immunity in these types of personal injury lawsuits as long as certain procedures are followed. The procedures and exceptions will vary from state to state, so you will need to speak with an attorney to see if you qualify for an exception in your head injury case.

Many states have strict timelines for personal injury lawsuits against schools, and your attorney can inform you of any additional requirements in your area. You should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after an injury to make sure you adhere to the rules and stick to state deadlines. A national education attorney like Joseph D. Lento can help you navigate all of the applicable rules.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases normally affects premises liability claims against private entities. But you should be aware that a much shorter time period may apply if you are suing a public school. In addition to a reduced statute of limitations, you likely will need to meet a notice requirement. This time period varies depending on state or local laws, but it may be a very small window of time. In any event, you should make sure to immediately report the accident so that it can be documented in writing. You should also take photographs and get the contact information of witnesses without delay.

Following a head injury at school, parents and students might not be thinking about possible litigation initially, but the following steps should help make sure the case is not damaged by any actions or statements taken in the heat of the moment.

What to do Immediately Following an Injury

First and foremost, get any medical attention that the injury requires. Your personal health and safety, or the health and safety of your student is the most important thing.

Once medical care has been arranged, you need to document the incident that led to the injury. The process may vary depending on the policies of the school and the circumstances surrounding the incident leading to a head injury. If you can file an incident report with the school, that should be done immediately. In some cases, a police re