According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 9.2 million children visit emergency rooms each year for unintentional injuries. Since our children spend the bulk of their days at school, this means our schools are common locations for child injuries. It’s important for administrators and staff to make sure their schools are safe environments and that the risk of preventable injuries is kept to a minimum. However, sometimes kids get injured in slip and fall accidents due to easily preventable circumstances. When this happens, can you sue your child’s school for damages related to their injuries?
Can Public Schools Be Sued For Negligence In Pennsylvania?
If your child was injured in a school slip and fall accident, your legal options may vary depending on whether the school is private. While private schools can face the same liability as other private businesses, public schools are often protected by government immunity.
However, a law called the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act has set exceptions to this rule. You may have grounds for a lawsuit against a public school if your child’s injuries involved any of the following circumstances:
- Vehicle liability (such as an unsafe school bus);
- Care, custody, or control of personal property;
- Care, custody, or control of real property (such as school grounds or facilities);
- Trees, traffic controls, and street lighting;
- Utility services facilities;
- Streets and sidewalks;
- Care, custody, and control of animals.
This means that not all slip and fall accidents will qualify for lawsuits. You’ll need to prove that the accident only occurred because of one of the examples listed above.
What Types Of Accidents Can I Sue For?
There are a few examples of slip and fall accidents in which a school could be held liable for negligence:
- A broken or poorly maintained sidewalk causing a trip and fall
- Uncleared ice and snow on a sidewalk causing a slip and fall
- A custodian spilling cleaning supplies or other liquids, causing a slip and fall
- A trip and fall due to uneven or broken floors inside the school
These are just a few examples, but determining if your case is eligible for a personal injury lawsuit in Pennsylvania will require a consultation with an experienced Philadelphia slip and fall lawyer. Each case is unique, and the circumstances of Pennsylvania law and government immunity make public school slip and fall cases complicated.
What Kind Of Damages Can I Recover?
In Pennsylvania, the law limits the type and amount of damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit against a public school or other government bodies. According to PA state law, pain and suffering damages may only be awarded in cases involving death, permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement, and/or permanent dismemberment when the victim’s medical expenses are over $1,500.
If you do win your case, total damages are limited to $500,000. The school district also will receive credit for any insurance payments already made on behalf of your child.
While damages may be limited, taking legal action can be worth it if you have a strong case. You shouldn’t be forced to handle all of the expenses and other damages related to your child’s injury alone when the school’s negligence is to blame. Filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you get the financial support you need and demand that the school district does more to keep their students safe.