If your child sustains an injury due to falling while on public school grounds, you may wonder what steps you need to take in proving they were not responsible for the incident themselves. If your child informs you that they fell due to a reason caused by the school, maintenance, or another student, you may have grounds to press charges for reimbursement of medical costs. Here are some steps you can take to prove a slip and fall accident by your child was caused by negligence of another party.
Know The Law
Before you go ahead and file a lawsuit against your child's school, you need to know what the procedures are to do so. Public schools are much harder to sue than private schools as they have the benefit of sovereign immunity limiting the reasons one can press charges against them legally. An attorney would help you find out limitations and determine the right course of action.
If you do move forward in proving fault, the school district will usually require you file a claim about the injury first. This will need to be in writing and done right away as there is usually a 60 to 90 day limit. Once the paperwork is received, an investigation will be done before you can file a formal lawsuit. If your child slipped due to a bullying incident, you will need to file the lawsuit against the other child's parents.
Locate Any Witnesses
Find out if the incident happened at a time where other students or staff members were present to witness the fall. If someone saw the fall take place, they will need to be contacted for verification about what they had seen in the immediate area as it occurred. You may need to do some detective work in finding phone numbers of the child's caretaker as the school may not release this information due to security reasons. Once you track down a child witness, ask their caretaker if they could discuss the incident with their child to find out if they have information pertinent to the case.
Obtain Medical Documentation
Your child most likely went through the school nurse before being transferred to a hospital or doctor. Contact this employee and ask for the notes they had taken pertaining to the fall so you can bring it to your child's doctor. Find out if the nurse's notes coincide with the doctor's perception on how the injury had occurred or if there are discrepancies in the wording used. All medical documentation should go to an attorney for your child's slip and fall, like Putnam Lieb, for analysis.
Find Out About Surveillance
If the incident happened in the front of the school, on the bus, or in another area where a camera may have been present, alert your attorney so they can request footage be released for evaluation. The camera may have captured information about the flooring or ground to help prove the child had fallen due to something in the way or damage to the walking area.
Ask About Maintenance
Find out if the area where your child had slipped was maintained as it should have been on regular basis. If the floor was not cleaned or if there was an area that needed repair work done, you may be able to prove the school's janitorial department was negligent in keeping the children safe while walking through this area. If the school knew the area was problematic, and there was no sign or direction from a teacher telling children to avoid the spot, the school may be at fault for the injury.