Accident in schools – what happens when a school is at fault?

20th Aug 2019
Agata Myszkowska

Marketing Manager

Agata

Accident in schools – what happens when a school is at fault?

Accidents at school procedures

It’s true when they say schools days are the best days of your life. Swinging in the playground, running in the schoolyard and playing in the classroom are all part of growing up. The same can be said for accidents that result in a harmless bump on the arm or a gentle graze on the knee. But what if a serious accident happens and it’s the school that is to blame? 

Minor accidents are common in school playgrounds, buildings, sports fields, and on school trips. We all know that things like climbing frames and roundabouts come with some unavoidable risks and that kids will trip and fall as kids often do. However, they’ll normally have a quick cry before running off to play minutes later.  

But, sometimes, school accidents can result in children suffering serious, life-threatening injuries. According to research by the Scottish Government

“Unintentional injury is one of the main causes of death and is the most common cause of emergency hospital admissions in children aged under 15. Unintentional injuries are second only to cancers as a cause of death for children aged between 1 and 14 years.”  

So even though we want to give kids space to explore the wider world – safety in schools is an important issue.  

Of course, adults want kids to have fun while learning. But it’s still the responsibility of the teacher or adult present to ensure kids are in a safe environment. Same goes to local authorities who must ensure school premises are well maintained. 

According to the Scottish Government’s statistics on accidents involving children: 

“Every year in Scotland, one child in five attends accident and emergency departments following an unintentional injury – approximately 200,000 visits annually. While most of these events are not life-threatening, they consume considerable health service resources, cause distress for parents and children, have economic consequences for families through loss of work, and can impact on children’s education with time off school”. 

If the school does not take proper care and attention or if appropriate accidents at school procedures are not in place, children can be at risk of serious injury that not only affects them but those around them. So, while wee David or Sarah can’t be wrapped up in cotton wool, measures should be put in place by the school to prevent accidents from happening. If this has not been done and your child is injured at school, you may be eligible to take legal action against the school and claim for compensation. 

Same applies to accidents that took place outside school including, accidents in school playgrounds, day trips and even school bus accidents.  

For advice on what to do next and to understand who is at fault, it’s best to contact a personal injury solicitor. They will be able to offer a detailed opinion including the evidence you would need to prove the school was in the wrong. 

Helping to keep kids safe in schools

Every school should be looking to strike a healthy balance between fun and safety by following some simple guidelines. Kids should be allowed to explore while at the same time being provided with adequate protection. Adults should focus on things that can cause the most serious injuries when putting measures in place. Effective precautions such as using proper equipment for sports should also be put in place. Below are some helpful points that can assist schools in setting measures to protect children from being injured while in their care. 

Some typical situations where the school would be liable include: 

  • Faulty equipment
  • Dangerous designs
  • Hazards – slips, broken pavements
  • Poor supervision
  • Defective buildings

Supporting safety

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is actively working to improve the safety of kids in schools throughout Scotland. 

The organisation is now encouraging teachers to embrace outdoor activities while using their guide: Planning and Leading Visits and Adventurous activities –Guidance for Schools and Colleges. This no-nonsense guide offers a way to ensure kids are kept safe while still having fun. This is not only of benefit to teachers but also has a positive knock-on effect on your child’s safety. 

Combining the above measures means children can have fun at school while being safe. Minor injuries are common but with the right precautions teachers and parents can feel more at ease. 

Legal action against the school

If the worst does happen, and your child is involved in an accident at school, or under its’ supervision – always seek advice about compensation from an experienced personal injury solicitor. To help your case, you should report the accident to a teacher or another person of authority as soon as possible and make detailed notes of what happened along with the names of any witnesses. 

If your child has been involved in a school accident  – and you feel sure it wasn’t their fault – you should contact Watermans Solicitors as soon as possible.  Our expert accident solicitors can help establish whether you have a valid claim and advise on how much compensation you could be entitled to.