Who is responsible when something happens to a child while they are at school? There have been many instances where a child has been injured either by an employee or by another child. Assigning liability can be tricky, especially since it is assumed that adults will be around to properly supervise the children. States have different laws regarding school conduct so it is best to consult with a local attorney. Generally, they are afforded immunity from tort acts by courts under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. This means that generally schools are not held liable for intentional torts unless the acts constitute a reckless or conscious disregard of the safety and welfare of the students. In most cases of negligence against a school, governmental and official immunity will be the reason the case fails because the plaintiff had a difficult time establishing a breach of duty.
In establishing a case of negligence, it is important for plaintiffs to prove the following elements:
- Did the school have a duty to protect the student?
- If so, did the school breach that duty?
- Was the breach of duty the cause of the student’s injury?
- Can damages be proven?
The main act covering Illinois schools is the Illinois School Code. This Act governs the actions of school district employees and students from kindergarten to college. It also details issues like teacher certification, which can be important if there was a case of educational malpractice, for instance.
In Illinois, the state is governed by the Illinois Tort Immunity Act. This statute outlines procedure for initiating a suit against an Illinois school. The goal of the Act is to prevent too much money being diverted from school funds for such lawsuits. The good news for schools is that a recent nationwide study has found that negligence lawsuits have remained steady beginning in 1990, and that two-thirds of such lawsuits end in a favorable verdict for the school.
For students who are victims of personal injuries on school grounds, the best thing to do is for the family to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. The case law precedent is not in the favor of the student. As a general matter, parents should take note that students may be responsible for their own protection and safety. However, initiating a lawsuit may open the eyes of the school administration to look into ways to change their existing policy, so it is possible to lose in court but win in obtaining an appropriate response to injury-causing situations. Win or lose, lawsuits cost schools money and they may be open to a dialogue on injury prevention to avoid a lawsuit.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you were injured while at school please call one of our attorneys at David K. Kremin & Associates, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you. Please call 1(800) ASK-A-LAWYER or 1(800)275-2529.