Our kids spend more than a quarter of their waking hours at school, or commuting back and forth. We expect that when we send them there, they will be safe and protected.
Sadly, this is not always true. A recent report indicated that one out of every 14 students this year will suffer some type of unintentional yet temporarily debilitating injury while at or commuting to school. That’s approximately two children per classroom, and runs the gamut of everything from a school bus crash to a concussion during gym.
Another recent study, this one conducted by researchers with the Brown University Alpert Medical School and published in the journal Pediatrics, indicates that some 90,000 children are treated in emergency rooms across the country for violent acts that occur at school.
Our Gary injury lawyers know that these incidents range from a school shooting to bullying incidents. (Those who have lived in Gary for the last decade will recall in March 2001 when a 17-year-old was arrested in connection with a fatal shooting of a 16-year-old fellow student in the parking lot outside Lew Wallace High School.)
Although the latest school violence study points to a decrease in the overall number of intentional school injuries from 2001 through 2010, the decline was slight. Ninety-thousand is a large number, and we should keep in mind too that those only represent cases in which the student sought treatment at an emergency room. The actual cases of school injuries resulting from violence are in reality likely much higher.
Researchers reported that by far the most common type of violence-related school injuries were cuts and bruises. Those accounted for about 40 percent of total intentional injuries. Fractures accounted for about 12 percent. Brain injuries are believed to have been sustained in about 10 percent of those cases and another 7 percent resulted in strains and sprains.
Far and away, the greatest cause of intentional school injury was assault. Surprisingly in most cases, the defendants were identified as individuals who were friends or acquaintances of the victim. In 1 out of every 10 of these incidents, the case involved multiple aggressors ganging up on one child.
Of the nearly 7.4 million school injuries reported during that ten-year time frame, about 740,000 were the result of intentional violence.
Whether a child injury at school is intentional or not may have some bearing on the school district’s culpability, but bringing a lawsuit against a school can be tricky no matter what the basis. Schools, as extensions of the government, enjoy some immunity. What that means in some cases is that schools and their employees can’t be held liable, even when there is clear evidence of negligence.
However, this protection is not without limit, and there are instances in which the negligent actions of school workers or the district may warrant the pursuit of civil compensation. Indiana Code 34-13-3 discusses tort claims against governmental entities and public employees, and the various instances in which sovereign immunity is waived and compensation may be received.
The combined aggregate liability of all government entities and public employees acting within the scope of their employment may not exceed $700,000 for a person’s injury and up to $5 million for a person’s death.
Indiana Injury Lawyer Burton A. Padove is available for consultation throughout Northern Indiana, including Gary, Hammond and Calumet City. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.
School violence lands more than 90,000 a year in the ER, study finds, Jan. 13, 2014, By Linda Carroll, NBC News
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Indiana Traffic Safety – The Risk to Pregnant Mothers, Nov. 1, 2014, Gary School Injury Lawyer Blog