Can You Sue if Your Child Suffered a Slip and Fall at School?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Slip and fall accidents at school are common occurrences that can leave children seriously injured. More than 200,000 school-aged children across the country visit the ER annually due to playground equipment injuries, including falls from slides or slipping on uneven or improperly designed components.
If your child has suffered a slip and fall on school grounds, you may be able to take legal action against the school. This could help you receive a settlement to pay for your child’s injuries and associated damages.
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., our slip and fall attorneys can protect your rights and help your family seek compensation. We’ll explain your rights and represent you when filing a claim against the school or your child’s injuries.
Common Causes of Slip and Falls at Schools
Slip and fall accidents at schools usually occur because of dangerous conditions or lack of proper facilities maintenance, such as:
- Wet floors. Children may slip on wet floors in cafeterias, entryways, or classrooms due to unattended spills, leaks, or inadequately dried floors following rain or snow.
- Uneven surfaces. Hazards such as cracked or uneven sidewalks and pavements within school premises pose tripping risks when not addressed by regular grounds maintenance.
- Poor lighting. Insufficient lighting in stairwells, hallways, and parking lots can hide potential slip and trip hazards for students.
- Obstructions. Cluttered hallways and common areas with items like backpacks and sports equipment can lead to trips when staff do not follow proper storage procedures.
- Defective stairs. Staircases in disrepair, with broken steps or loose handrails, can lead to serious falls and injuries as children move around school grounds.
- Worn flooring. Deteriorating flooring, like peeling linoleum or cracked tiles, can cause tripping accidents in high-traffic areas if not fixed promptly.
- Playgrounds. Inadequately maintained playgrounds, with hard or uneven surfaces under equipment, can cause injuries like broken bones or concussions when children fall while playing.
Understanding a School’s Duty of Care Under Premises Liability
Michigan’s premises liability law mandates that schools maintain a safe student environment. This includes routine inspections and maintenance to identify and rectify any potential hazards that could pose a threat. If a school is aware of a safety risk or should have discovered it through proper diligence, they are obligated to address the problem or provide sufficient warning to both students and visitors.
If a school doesn’t address a known risk and a student gets hurt, the school can be held responsible for the injury. This can include paying for the student’s medical bills, pain and suffering, or associated losses that injury may cause the child in the future.
Who Might Be Responsible for Your Child’s Injuries from a Slip and Fall at School?
In the unfortunate event of your child getting injured at school, establishing responsibility is vital when considering legal action. Our attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can investigate the accident to identify which of the following parties may be liable:
- School district. This is the governing body responsible for managing and operating public schools within a specific area. They may be liable if policy failures lead to an unsafe environment, resulting in student injuries.
- School employees and administrators. These include teachers, principals, and other staff members working in schools. They could be held liable if their negligence or failure to act on known hazards causes harm to students.
- Maintenance staff or contractors. These individuals or companies are responsible for the upkeep and repair of school facilities. Liability may arise if poor maintenance or failure to address reported issues leads to accidents.
- School supply or equipment manufacturers. Companies that produce and supply educational materials and equipment might be liable if product defects cause students to be injured.
- Other students or parents. In situations where a student is injured due to the actions of another student, the aggressor’s parents might be held responsible.
- Third-party vendors. These can include external service providers such as food vendors or companies running extracurricular programs. They could be liable if their operations or employees contribute to creating unsafe conditions that lead to student injuries.
Can You Sue the School for a Slip and Fall Injury?
Whether you can pursue legal action against a school in Michigan for your child’s slip and fall injury depends on the school’s public or private status.
As property owners, private institutions have a clear duty to ensure their premises are safe for students and visitors. If a private school fails in this duty and your child is injured as a result, you can file a premises liability lawsuit seeking compensation for the injury.
Your attorney will help you gather evidence, file a claim with the institution’s bodily injury liability insurance, and negotiate a fair settlement. If the school refuses to settle or admit liability, you may have to fight for a damage award in court.
Public Schools in Michigan
In cases involving public schools, sovereign immunity laws may limit your ability to sue. Public school districts in Michigan are considered municipal government entities. The Governmental Tort Liability Act provides broad immunity protections for government agencies against negligence lawsuits, making it hard to file a claim and win compensation.
However, if your child’s case meets the following exceptions, we can help you take legal action:
- A defect on public property. If the slip and fall resulted from a dangerous condition because of poor maintenance of school property, you might have grounds for a lawsuit against the school district or municipality.
- Gross negligence. If a teacher or administrator acted with gross negligence in allowing or ignoring a known hazardous condition, you may be able to file suit against them as an individual.
- Independent contractor liability. If the hazard was caused by defective work performed by a third-party contractor not protected by sovereign immunity, you can pursue a claim against them.
Our skilled attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can determine if you have a valid claim for your child’s slip and fall at school. You must file a Notice of Claim within 120 days of the incident to preserve your right to sue; we can help you complete this step and represent you during the entire claims process.
Working With Our Attorneys to Prove Negligence and Win Your Claim
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.’s seasoned premises liability attorneys are dedicated to securing compensation for families affected by school injuries. Here is how we build a strong case proving negligence:
- Thorough investigation. We gather evidence from the accident scene, interview witnesses, review school policies, and consult experts. This comprehensive approach helps us determine the factors that led to the hazardous condition.
- Proving prior knowledge. We obtain maintenance records, incident reports, complaints, and other documentation to establish that the school was aware of the hazard but neglected to address it.
- Identifying the origin of defects. Our attorneys skillfully trace property defects back to their origin, whether due to improper maintenance, construction issues, or other factors.
- Identifying liable parties. We determine all potentially negligent parties, including contractors, manufacturers, and school administration, who may share liability for the injuries. This allows us to file a claim with the appropriate party.
- Providing medical expertise. Eileen Kroll, a partner attorney and registered nurse, combines her legal and medical knowledge for a unique legal strategy. Eileen can examine your child’s medical records to understand the extent of their injuries and the effect on their physical abilities and enjoyment of life.
Get Experienced Legal Representation for Your Child’s Slip and Fall at School
Dealing with the aftermath of your child’s slip and fall at school requires the help of a qualified Michigan attorney with experience in premises liability. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., our personal injury lawyers have an extensive background in premises liability cases, including government institutions like schools.
Contact us today for a complimentary consultation where we can discuss your rights and help you seek a fair settlement for your child’s injuries.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Contact us today online or call our 24-hour toll-free number at 1-866-MICH-LAW to schedule a no-obligation free consultation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.