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With the impending arrival of fall, many school-aged children will start a new school year, complete with new classes, new friends, and unfortunately, new risks of sustaining serious injuries. School administrators, faculty, and staff have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their students and protect them from an unreasonable risk of injury. Unfortunately, these parties do not always live up to their duty, sometimes with devastating consequences. Below is some information about some of the more common types of accidents that occur at school as well as some of the legal considerations that may arise when pursuing legal action against a school.

Playground accidents

Playgrounds are a common fixture at most preschools and elementary schools. These areas often have equipment that allows children to climb, jump, slide, crawl, and otherwise engage in physical activity and play that is essential to their personal and physical development. Unfortunately, playgrounds also expose children to a serious risk of injury. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates [1] that more than 200,000 children sustain injuries that require treatment in an emergency department each year. When these accidents are the result of the negligent act or omission of a school or school district, victims can often recover for their injuries through a personal injury [2]  lawsuit. Some of the kinds of hazardous conditions that may result in a playground accident are detailed below:

• Improperly installed equipment
• Improperly maintained equipment
• Inadequate shock absorbing material
• Defective playground fixtures • Playgrounds too close to structures
• Exposed hardware
• Inadequate premises maintenance
• Inadequate supervision

After a playground accident, victims and their families should consult with an attorney to determine if any evidence of negligence exists. If it does, your child may be entitled to significant financial compensation.

Slips, trips, and falls at school

While playgrounds certainly expose children to a risk of injury, these risks can exist even in the most seemingly safe school environment. Slips, trips, and falls that occur because of hazardous conditions often result in extremely serious injuries. In some cases, these injuries may even include traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, both of which have the potential to leave victims with serious disabilities. Some of the more common kinds of hazardous conditions that can cause slips, trips, and falls at school include the following:

• Exposed electrical wiring
• Liquid spills
• Stairwells without handrails
• Inadequate lighting
• Cracked flooring • Slippery flooring material
• Cracked pavement
• Uneven stairs
• Accumulations of snow or ice
• Debris or objects in hallways

If these or other conditions caused your child’s accident, he or she may be legally entitled to recover from the school or school district. An attorney can help you determine whether you have a legal claim to pursue.

Public schools and sovereign immunity

As government entities, public school districts enjoy the benefits conferred upon government agencies by the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity, which holds that the government cannot be sued except to the extent to which it has consented to such lawsuits. Fortunately for the people of Florida, the government has waived such immunity to a limited extent, authorizing people who are injured by the negligence of government agents to recover. These kinds of lawsuits are subject to specific legal rules regarding how they may be brought, as well as having significant limits on liability. As a result, anyone considering bringing a legal action against a public school should do so with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Contact a Ft. Lauderdale personal injury lawyer today to schedule a free case evaluation

When children are seriously injured at school, they are often entitled to significant financial compensation. For this reason, parents or guardians of children who have been hurt in preventable accidents should discuss their circumstances with a Ft. Lauderdale personal injury attorney. Often, Florida school accident cases result in compensation for losses such as medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and loss of future earning potential. For many injured children who have developed a disability, obtaining a substantial settlement or award is essential in ensuring their financial security into adulthood.
The Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Joseph J. Lorusso, P.A. are ready, willing and able to assist you in obtaining a result that makes you as whole as can be. Call our office today at 954-715-3260 to set up an initial consultation.

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Playground-Injuries/playgroundinjuries-factsheet.htm
[2] http://www.americanbar.org/aba.html

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