Kids spend a lot of their time at school, and it is not uncommon for accidents to happen along the way. In most cases, getting hurt here and there is just a part of growing. In other instances, however, the accident will rise to the level of negligence, and the school may be liable for the student’s injuries. School officials have a legal duty to minimize the possibility of accidents and injuries. When a child is injured at school, the school district can be sued as long as certain criteria are met. A recent case decided by the Wyoming Supreme Court pertained to a school injury.
In Halvorson v. Sweetwater County School Dist., a student filed a lawsuit against her school district after she slipped and fell in the locker room of junior high school. The student claimed that the school district failed to keep the shower in a reasonably safe condition. When the accident took place, the student was in eighth grade, and swim class was part of her mandatory curriculum. Swim class had wrapped up, and the student had come into the locker room to shower and get dressed. While going across the room to borrow something from a friend, the student slipped and fell. A medical examination revealed that the student suffered a disc herniation and subsequently had to have multiple surgeries to correct a problem.
The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the school district, claiming that she fell because the water from the shower area overflowed in the dressing area because of insufficient drainage. The school defended itself by claiming that it did not owe a duty of care because it did not have notice of the unsafe condition and therefore had no chance to fix the problem.
The District Court ruled in favor of the school, finding that the school district used ordinary care to keep the shower facilities in a reasonably safe condition. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the locker room was severely flooded with water. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of Wyoming affirmed the lower court’s ruling finding that water was not flowing over the shower. Instead, the water was an amount that was carried from wet feet and bodies and was generally unavoidable.
While Halvorson was decided by a Wyoming court, the basic principles of negligence are relevant in Florida as well. When a school fails to take steps to protect its students from foreseeable harm, it may be deemed negligent. It is important to note, however, that negligence claims are highly fact intensive, and a plaintiff will not prevail on such a claim unless there are clear facts to support his or her contention. Here, the facts were not strong enough for the plaintiff to meet the required standard of proof.
If your child has been injured at school, you may be able to seek compensation for his or her injuries. Robert Dixon is a highly skilled Miami premises liability lawyer well versed in virtually all types of personal injury law. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida. To find out about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).
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