Slipping and Falling While in School
Slip and fall accidents happen on school campuses all throughout the state of California. Universities, colleges, high schools even elementary schools can have conditions that could lead to serious injuries. When we send our kids to school each weekday morning, we do not plan for them to sustain injuries at school. However, slipping and falling at school happens more often than most parents in the Los Angeles area would like to think about, and kids can sustain very serious injuries. In many cases, the school (or one of its employees) might have been able to do something to prevent the slip and fall accident. For instance, maybe the school floors were waxed recently, but nobody put up a warning sign about the slick walking surfaces. Or, perhaps a school employee responsible for maintaining the building noticed some rough flooring but did not repair it for several weeks, and in the meantime, several children tripped and fell. In yet another common scenario, maybe a liquid spill in the cafeteria resulted in a slip and fall after several school employees noticed the puddle but took a long time to clean it up.
If you or your child got hurt in a slip and fall accident at school, you may be eligible to file a premises liability lawsuit.
How Do School Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?
There are many different scenarios that can lead to slipping and falling at school, including but not limited to:
- Slick floor due to recent mopping or waxing;
- Slick walkway due to rain or other inclement weather;
- Liquid spill in the cafeteria;
- Liquid spill in a science classroom or in another area of the school;
- Rough flooring; and
- Cords or other tripping hazards in walkways.
According to a fact sheet from the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), slips and fall result in about one million emergency room visits every year, and they account for around 12 percent of all fall-related injuries. Many slips and falls are caused by hazards on floors and floor related materials, and the most common injury sustained in these accidents is a bone fracture. In some cases, fractures are severe and can require multiple surgeries and rehabilitative therapies.
I Slipped and Fell at School, Can I Sue?
Yes, schools have a responsibility to keep their premises safe for everyone who enters. In order to have a successful case against the school, there are a number of things that has to be proven:
- There was a condition that was unsafe at the school either in the facility itself or on the property for which the school is responsible for maintaining
- The school was made known of the hazardous or dangerous condition
- Appropriate action was not taken to correct or rectify the situation
- Someone, perhaps yourself or someone you care about was injured as a result of the school’s negligence
What Do I Need to Prove to Win a Slip and Fall Claim Against a School?
Under California law, parties that oversee school properties, as well as other property owners or renters throughout the state, owe a duty of care to certain people who are on the property. The law makes clear that a school can be found negligent—and liable for injuries in a premises liability claim—if the school “fails to use reasonable care to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition.” The school is required by law to “use reasonable care to discover any unsafe conditions and to repair, replace, or give adequate warning of anything that could be reasonably expected to harm others.”
Factors that can be taken into account when determining whether a school used reasonable care in maintaining the property include but are not limited to:
- Location of the property;
- Likelihood of another person coming onto the property and behaving as the plaintiff did;
- Likelihood of harm;
- Probable seriousness of the harm;
- Whether the school knew or should have known about the condition that created the risk of harm;
- Difficulty of protecting students, employees, and other people at the school against the risk of such harm; and
- Extent of the school’s control over the condition that created the risk of harm.
Why does it matter if you can prove that the school was negligent? In order to win a premises liability lawsuit—which is the type of lawsuit you would file if you or your child got hurt in a slip and fall accident—then you must be able to show the following four elements:
- School district owned, occupied, and/or controlled the property;
- School district was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property;
- Plaintiff was harmed; and
- School district’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.
As you can see, negligence is one of the essential factual elements of a premises liability claim, and as such it will be important for any plaintiff to gather evidence that proves a school district or employees at the school were negligent in their maintenance of the school property.
Other Factors to Take into Consideration
Did the Accident Happen at a Public or a Private School?
Did your child’s slip and fall accident happen at a public school within the Los Angeles Unified School District, or at a private school in the Los Angeles area? The answer to the question could have a significant impact upon the amount of time you have to file your claim.
The statute of limitations—or the clock that counts the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit—is much shorter when you are filing a lawsuit against a government agency in California, and the process is a little bit different as well. If you are filing a claim against the Los Angeles Unified School District—a government agency—then you only have six months from the date of your child’s accident to file a claim with the agency. If that claim is denied, then you may be able to file your lawsuit in a court in Los Angeles, but California law also places strict time limitations on such a claim. What should you keep in mind if you are thinking about filing a lawsuit based on a slip and fall at a public school? Initiate your claim as soon as possible by speaking with a Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer about the case.
If the slip and fall occurred at a private school, then the statute of limitations will be longer. California law has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury cases (in which a government agency is not the defendant). This means that, if your child slipped and fell at a private school in the Los Angeles area, you will have two years from the date of the accident to file your claim.
Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer in Los Angeles
Did you child get hurt in a slip and fall accident at school? Are you a teacher or a school employee who sustained injuries in a slip and fall accident at work? You may be eligible to file a premises liability lawsuit. You should discuss your case with a slip and fall accident lawyer in L.A. as soon as possible. Contact Fisher & Talwar today to learn more about filing a claim for compensation.