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When Are Schools Liable for Children’s Injuries?

Posted on in Personal Injury

When Are Schools Liable for Children’s Injuries?Parents send their children to school with the expectation that they will be safe, but accidents occur that may result in a child being injured. When the injury requires extensive medical treatment, you should investigate whether you have a strong case for filing a personal injury lawsuit against the school. School districts in Illinois are required to carry insurance in case they are found liable for a student’s injury. In many situations, Illinois law protects school districts against parents filing personal injury lawsuits unless they can prove willful or wanton conduct by the district or its employees.

Plaintiff’s Burden

Illinois’ Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act creates a high burden of proof when plaintiffs file personal injury lawsuits against public entities, such as public school districts. Student injuries are most likely to occur during recess periods, physical education classes and extracurricular athletics. The law states that a school district is not liable for injuries that occur on properties that are meant for recreational activities unless the injury was caused by willful or wanton conduct, which is:

  • Intent to cause harm; or
  • Conscious disregard for safety.

Willful or wanton conduct is a stricter burden of proof than negligence because it requires proving the defendant’s intent. It is unlikely that a school or its employees would intend to injure a student. Showing that the school was ambivalent towards its students’ safety is more likely but still difficult.

Building Your Case

There is less burden on the plaintiff if a student was injured in an area that is not meant for recreational activity. In this scenario, you would need to prove that negligence by the school caused the injury, such as a failure to make timely repairs to school facilities and equipment. When you are required to prove willful or wanton conduct, you need a detailed account of the circumstances leading up to the injury, such as:

  • Were you or your child reasonably aware of the risk of injury?;
  • Did the school knowingly allow your child to use faulty or unsafe equipment?;
  • Should a school employee have been watching or supervising your child?;
  • Did a school employee instruct your child to perform an action, knowing that there was a high risk of injury?; and
  • Did a school employee ignore your child or other students who were concerned about their safety?

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

While Illinois plaintiffs have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit in most cases, the statute of limitations is one year when the lawsuit is against a governmental entity. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can review your case and advise you on whether a court is likely to hold the school district liable for your child’s injury. Call 815-338-3838 to schedule a free consultation.



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