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Are Schools Responsible When a Student Gets Hurt?

By Glenn Kadish on

What happens if a student is seriously injured at school? Can the school be responsible for the child’s injuries? Should it be?

In many situations, the answer is yes, schools are responsible. The State of Washington recognizes that there is a unique relationship between a school and its students. The relationship is not voluntary, because students are compelled by law to attend school and to submit to the school’s rules. Because of this special relationship, Washington courts created a law recognizing a school’s “solemn and enhanced” duty to protect its students from harm that the school can reasonably anticipate.

If this is the case, the question we must ask is: what can a school reasonably anticipate? In one case, a jury decided that a school was negligent because the school had assigned a teacher to oversee the gym, specifically to protect students from being harmed by other students. That teacher had “absented himself,” and as a result, a young girl was seriously injured.

This does not mean that a school is responsible for all injuries students may suffer at school; these matters depend on the facts. However, anytime a child is seriously injured at school or in a school-supervised activity, a parent has the right to, and should investigate to see if the school was responsible. A personal injury lawyer can help with this process.

At our personal injury firm in Everett, we recently represented a high school student who was seriously injured in a weightlifting class when another student knocked a barbell onto her face. We proved that her injury was foreseeable because the weight lifting equipment was old, rusty, out-of-date and poorly maintained, in other words, dangerous. There was also supposed to be a teacher in the room supervising the class, but there wasn’t. An outdated, defective weight bench should never be allowed in any gym, much less a high school weight room used by unsupervised students who may not be familiar lifting weights.

If your child or grandchild is seriously injured at school or while engaged in a school activity, please contact Kadish Twersky Law Firm to discuss whether the school may be responsible for the injuries. We have over 75 years of combined experience as Everett personal injury lawyers and can protect your loved one’s rights.

This website includes general information about legal issues to be used for educational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances or to create an attorney client relationship.


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