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Personal Injuries and School Premises Liability

When Is a School Liable for Injuries Caused in Accidents on Their Premises?

West Coast Trial Lawyers understand that when a child is injured at school, it’s not always clear who, if anyone, might be legally responsible. Certain accidents are unavoidable, but some injuries on school grounds are due to unsafe conditions, or the action or inaction, of school officials, staff, or even other students.

It may be difficult to determine who is legally responsible for a child getting harmed or injured at school. In some circumstances, there are accidents that are not avoidable. However, others could be a result from:

  • Hazardous conditions, or
  • No proper action done by school officials or students.


School Rules for Premises Liability

School officials and staff are required to provide a special duty of care to students to make sure they are kept from harm’s way. To do so, they will take on the responsibility of hiring enough staff members to supervise the students on the premises. This duty is reflected on all school district employees. The main objective of this is to ensure that the students are in a safe school environment.

To make sure that this goal is met, it is important to hire applicants that fit the appropriate qualifications of what the school district is looking for. Thus, background checks are an essential factor during the hiring process. Schools need to make sure that they are doing these checks when hiring staff members to know whether or not they fit with the standards established by the school district.

Additionally, the school is civilly liable for a student being sexually abused while they knew, or should have known about the situation, or if the offender had a history of exhibiting inappropriate behavior. Now, when it comes to bullying, it takes on a more difficult route. A school may be considered at risk of legal action if they were aware or had notice of a severe bullying issue and failed to prevent it from continuing.

The Importance of Checking Property

When a child is injured on school grounds, it must be determined whether or not the accident was foreseeable. If the school failed to conduct a proper inspection of their equipment, such as a playground, and if the child got injured utilizing it, then they may face legal consequences. This is why it is important for school districts to make sure their equipment is measured properly before allowing children to use it. An example could be a child playing on the swings. The swing’s chain can detach, thus resulting in the child falling and harming themselves. The school is required to check and see if the swing set was constructed properly to avoid this issue.

Exceptions to School Liability

There are significant exceptions that are applicable in regards to a school’s liability when a student is harmed or injured. Typically, schools are not held liable for a child being injured on their property if it is during outside school hours or outside events that are sponsored by the school.

An example could be a girl getting pushed off a school playground slide on a Sunday morning. The school is not held responsible for this injury since it did not happen during its open hours or at a sponsored event.

When it comes to student athletes getting injured, the school is not held liable for this either. Once a student joins a sports team, they are well aware of the general risks of what may happen during sports activities.


Public school districts attain immunity from liability based on specific types of reported harm. This immunity does have the potential of getting waived. The victim must follow through with the rules for informing the government about the claim along with giving important information on the situation. This must all be performed in a timely manner to avoid exceeding the statute of limitations, which is two years from the initial date of the injury.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to Find Out How We Can Help

If you suffered injuries due to a premise liability incident, you have the right to hold the guilty party responsible. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we have experienced premises liability attorneys that are fully committed to helping our clients with their cases and ensuring that they leave with a satisfactory end result. Our attorneys will help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have endured, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are paid until we settle your case. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected]


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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