A school should be a safe and happy place for both students and staff and in most cases that’s true. However, accidents and incidents in schools do happen and if they’re ultimately the school’s fault, you may be able to sue the school for negligence for compensation for any injuries you’ve suffered. Whether your child’s hurt at school or if you’re a member of staff, this guide will explain how to sue a school for negligence. We’ll look at the types of negligence that could lead to a compensation claim and show you how much could be paid as damages.
Our team is here to offer free legal advice on the claims process. As well as reviewing your claim during an initial consultation, they’ll explain your options for you. If it looks like you have the grounds to make a claim, we’ll refer you to a personal injury solicitor from our team. They’ll provide a No Win No Fee service if your claim is accepted meaning you won’t pay any legal fees unless you receive a compensation payout.
To discuss a school negligence claim right away, please call us on 0800 6524 881 today. To learn more before contacting us, please read on.
Table of contents
- What Is A School’s Duty Of Care To Students?
- Duty Of Care To School Teachers And Staff
- Can You Sue A School For Negligence?
- Evidence When Taking Legal Action Against A School
- Examples Of Negligence By Schools That Might Lead To Legal Action
- Personal Injuries A School Might Be Sued For
- Suing A School If Your Child Has Been Hurt
- Time Limits To Sue A School For Negligence
- Find Out More On How To Sue A School For Negligence
Schools and teachers owe a duty of care to their students. The general principles that underly that duty means:
- Schools have a duty to prevent children from having foreseeable accidents.
- Teachers must take reasonable steps to try and make sure students do not meet with foreseeable injuries.
- An effective system of supervision should be operated throughout the school.
The nature of the steps schools must take to protect pupils will depend on factors such as their age and their needs. This duty of care exists when the child is in school or on school trips organised and supervised by the school.
As part of their duty of care, schools should conduct risk assessments in relation to the activities they undertake and mitigate for any dangers. For example, playground equipment should be regularly inspected and repaired where necessary. Similarly, children should be provided with safety goggles when using dangerous chemicals in science lessons.
With regard to teachers and staff, schools have a duty to take reasonable steps to try and keep them safe. This is set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Negligence may have occurred if a school teacher or member of staff breaches their duty of care through their actions or lack of actions. In these cases, if an accident occurs as a result of their negligence, the injured party could sue the school for their suffering.
If you can answer yes to all three questions in the checklist below, one of our personal injury solicitors could help you claim compensation:
- Did the school owe you or your child a legal duty of care?
- Did an accident or incident occur because of a negligent act by the school or its staff?
- Were injuries sustained during that accident?
As with any personal injury claim, you’ll need to prove exactly how you’ve suffered and why the school was responsible for the accident.
The types of evidence that could help when taking legal action against a school for negligence include:
- Medical records that show your diagnosis and the treatment you had to endure.
- Details of any witnesses who saw the accident or incident happen. Statements might be requested by your solicitor to help prove what happened.
- Photographs of the accident scene. Where possible, these should show the root cause of the accident before it is repaired or replaced.
- A copy of an accident report form. As with other organisations, schools must keep records of any accidents on their premises.
- Footage from CCTV cameras if the accident was caught on camera. The school should provide you with a copy of any relevant footage if you ask before it is deleted.
- Evidence to show any costs incurred as a result of your injuries like bank statements or receipts.
If you call our team to discuss suing a school for negligence, they’ll review any evidence you’re able to share with them for free.
We can’t list every single incident that could lead to a school being sued for negligence. However, we have included a few examples of the types of negligence that could see legal action taken.
- Slips, trips and falls. Claims might be possible if your child slips on a wet floor in a school because a leak or spillage was not cleaned up promptly. Another example might be if you’ve tripped on a cable laid across the school hall that wasn’t taped down.
- Playground accidents. Children can get overexcited at playtime or during PE lessons and accidents can happen that are not the school’s fault. However, if your child is injured in a school playground because of broken or damaged playground equipment, a claim might be possible.
- Injuries caused by furniture. Schools must maintain and repair tables, chairs, benches and any other furniture they provide. If you’ve been injured by a broken chair collapsing or a sharp edge on a desk, you could sue the school for negligence.
- Sporting injuries. It may be possible to claim compensation if your child is injured in a PE lesson or sporting activity because of damaged equipment or an unsafe playing environment.
- Food poisoning. If your child is made ill by food provided by the school, you may be able to seek damages for their suffering.
- Asbestos-related illnesses. While asbestos is not used in modern schools, it can still be found in older buildings. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease linked to the school you work in, our solicitors could help you to make an asbestos claim.
Even if we’ve not described why you want to sue a school for negligence here, please get in touch and we’ll review your claim for free.
Essentially, it’s possible to sue a school for any type of injury caused by negligence. Some of the more common personal injuries we see include:
A personal injury claim is usually based on two heads of loss:
- General damages – to cover any pain and suffering.
- Special damages – to recoup any financial losses.
If you successfully sue a school for negligence, you could be compensated for:
- Physical pain caused by an injury or during treatment.
- Any mental harm such as distress or anxiety.
- Any negative impact on your usual hobbies or activities.
- Care costs if somebody needed to look after you during your recovery.
- Medical expenses and physiotherapy costs.
- Travel expenses.
- Replacing any personal property damaged during the accident.
- Mobility aids and home adaptations if you’re left disabled following the accident.
Please use our compensation calculator for an idea of how much you could be awarded if you sue a school for negligence:
As you might see, settlement amounts are based on the severity of any injury. Therefore, your solicitor will arrange for you to be examined by an independent medical expert. They’ll assess the current state of your injuries, find out how you’ve suffered and refer to your medical records. They’ll then prepare a report for your solicitor and the school’s insurers to explain your prognosis.
If your child has been injured at school they cannot represent themselves in legal matters. Therefore, somebody will need to become their litigation friend if they’re to be compensated by their school. Once they’ve been approved, the claim will proceed as normal but they’ll deal with the solicitor instead of your child.
If the claim is won, any settlement figure will have to be approved by a court. They’ll then keep the funds in a court account until the child is 18 years old. Before then funds can be requested in writing but you’ll need to explain to the court how the child will benefit from them.
If an adult sues a school, they’ll usually have 3-years to do so from the date of the accident, or from when their injury was diagnosed.
If the claim relates to a child, there is no time limit as such but the claims process must be started before their 18th birthday. If no claim is made, the 3-year limit will apply from the date the child turns 18.
The easiest way to see if you can sue a school is to call our team on 0800 6524 881. During a no-obligation review of your claim, they’ll explain your options and give free legal advice.
If you proceed with a claim, your solicitor will represent you on a No Win No Fee basis so you won’t need to pay legal fees unless compensation is awarded.
Please feel free to use live chat to contact us if you have any more questions about how to sue a school for negligence.