CHICAGO SCHOOL LAWYER
School Injury Lawyer in Chicago, IL
Children spend the majority of their days in a public or private school setting. When we send our children to school, we expect teachers and other staff members to keep them as safe and healthy as we would at home. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Children injured at school can suffer physically and psychologically for years to come. If you suspect that the school’s negligence is causing your child’s pain, the school could certainly be held liable. A Chicago school injury lawyer can walk you through the legal process so that you can obtain justice for your child.
Curcio Law Offices is Chicago’s best personal injury law firm. We are passionate about obtaining justice and fair compensation for all victims of negligence. Call us today at 312-321-1111 to schedule a free consultation.
How Many Children Suffer Injuries and Death in the U.S. Every Year?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), serious injuries are the leading cause of death among children and teens ages 0 to 19. In fact, the CDC claims that more than 7,000 children and teens died from unintentional injuries in 2019, which is approximately 20 deaths per day. Children and teens most commonly suffer fatal injuries from car accidents, poisoning, fires, slip and falls, drowning, and suffocation.
Common Causes of School Injuries
Any parent knows that children can suffer injuries from almost any situation in any environment. But it’s always a major concern when a child’s injury happens at school. Children can suffer a variety of injuries at school, but the most common are food poisoning, slip and fall accidents, playground injuries, fighting, sports injuries, school bus accidents, toxin exposure, and sexual abuse.
Many children eat lunch and snacks from their school cafeteria. If the cafeteria staff fails to prevent food contamination or fails to store food properly, children could eat tainted food and become seriously ill.
Because children are known to run, jump, and skip everywhere, they are generally at a higher risk of suffering a slip and fall accident at school. For example, children could slip and fall on improperly maintained stairs with broken handrails, wet floors, playgrounds, snowy or icy sidewalks, etc.
It’s not uncommon for children to be rambunctious on the playground and scrape their knees or bonk their heads. But a child’s injuries on a school playground can become a legal issue if the injury occurred due to defective equipment, inadequate supervision by school officials, or improperly maintained school grounds.
Verbal or physical fights at schools are not uncommon. Children and teens can suffer some serious bruising, pulled muscles, or even mild concussions from physical fights. Fights at school can become even more dangerous when school employees fail to separate the other students from the injured child.
Playing sports and suffering an occasional sports-related injury is often part of the classic childhood experience. However, coaches and other school staff should do what they can to keep kids safe on the field. If a child suffered a serious sports injury due to poor supervision or lack of safety equipment, the child’s school could be held liable.
In 2020, 4,800 people suffered injuries and 54 people died in school bus crashes according to data from the National Safety Council. The number of injuries and deaths from school buses has dropped by more than 50% compared to 2019, likely because more children were attending school at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While most of these victims were people outside of the school bus, such as pedestrians, it’s not impossible for children to suffer from a school bus accident too. Depending on the specifics of an accident, the drivers or even the school district could be held responsible for injuries and deaths.
A child could become seriously ill at school due to asbestos, lead, or mold poisoning. Toxin exposure cases are especially common in really old school buildings that haven’t been properly maintained.
According to data from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), more than 57,000 children were sexually abused in the fiscal year 2016 (April 2016-March 2017). It’s important to note that this statistic, while very large and shocking, is likely an understatement. That’s because most sexual abuse cases go unreported due to the victim’s fear and shame.
Sexual abuse can happen in any setting, including in a school setting. Both boys and girls can suffer sexual abuse, however, 82% of victims under the age of 18 are girls. Not only can sexual abuse cause serious physical injuries, but it can also cause long-term emotional distress. In fact, RAINN estimates that sexual abuse victims are 3 to 4 times more likely to develop addiction issues, major depression, and PTSD.
Common Types of School Injuries
Common child injuries that occur in a school setting include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) such as concussions
- Neck and spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones and dislocations
- Black eyes and other large bruises
- Gastrointestinal illnesses from lead or food poisoning
- Respiratory illnesses from mold overgrowth or asbestos poisoning
- Mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD
- Sprains and strains, including rib strains
- Scrapes and cuts
- Symptoms of STIs or UTIs if the child is a victim of sexual abuse
It’s normal for kids to suffer illnesses and injuries on an occasional basis. But if your child’s pain and injuries from school are incredibly frequent and costing you a fortune in medical treatment, it may be time to hire a school injury attorney to investigate the situation.
Can I Sue if My Child Was Injured at School?
Yes, you can sue your child’s school, school district, teacher, coach, bus driver, cafeteria staff member, etc. if you can prove that your child was injured due to an intentional or negligent act.
Every single school has a legal duty to protect its students from harm. This means that schools have to create a safe environment through adequate supervision of the children, regular maintenance of the school property, regular health and safety inspections in the cafeteria kitchen, and appropriate training of all staff members. If the school fails to do any of these things to create a safe environment and a child was injured as a result, the school could face legal responsibility.
If you believe that your child’s injuries are a result of intentional acts or negligent supervision from their school, a qualified child injury lawyer at Curcio Law Offices can help.
Acts That Constitute School Negligence
If you’re a parent of a frequently injured child, you may be wondering: what are examples of negligent or intentional acts that I could file a personal injury lawsuit for? Schools could be held responsible for:
- Lead, asbestos, or mold exposure
- Food poisoning caused by poor food handling, storage, or cooking
- Resulting injuries from wet floors, broken handrails, broken stairs, uneven sidewalks, broken playground equipment, or broken sports equipment
- Poor supervision that led to a child’s injuries in a classroom or on a playground
- Poor emergency preparedness or safety planning during natural disasters, school shootings, etc.
- Physically or sexually abusive teachers and staff members
- School bus accidents
Suing Public Schools vs. Private Schools
Before you take legal action, it’s important to remember that public schools and private schools are different. Basically, public schools are government entities, and private schools aren’t. This means that public schools often receive sovereign immunity protections.
Under sovereign immunity, you can’t sue a government entity unless the government gives you consent to do so. Each state has different laws that provide exceptions to this immunity. According to Illinois law, you can only file a claim against a local government entity, such as a public school, if your claim is based on “willful and wanton” misconduct. So if your child’s injury was the direct result of carelessness or simple negligence, you likely can’t file a claim. A Chicago school injury lawyer can review your case and help you determine if you can receive justice for your child’s injury.
It’s often easier to sue private schools for child injuries. Private schools aren’t government entities because they’re usually run by a local diocese, non-profit organization, or a synagogue. So you generally don’t have to jump through any legal hoops to obtain justice for your child. Most times, parents of private school children can simply file a claim in their state’s civil court system with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Damages for a Serious Injury on School Grounds
An injured child and their family can receive financial compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future rehabilitative bills
- Caregiving expenses, if the child’s injuries result in a permanent injury or disability
- Lost wages, if the guardians have to take off work in order to care for the injured child
- Lost wages if the child’s injuries lead to disability which will prevent them from working in the future
- Physical pain and suffering of the child
- Emotional distress of the child
- Counseling expenses if the child’s injury/illness results in significant emotional distress