Field trips can often be some of the more exciting activities for kids, but they're also an invitation for disaster. School chaperones are rarely adequately trained in child safety and are also responsible for a large number of children they aren't used to supervising. This is a dangerous combination that leads to a number of totally preventable injuries to children.
Organizations that are found to be negligent in causing a person’s injury often are held accountable for the damages that result from that negligence. There is no exception when it comes to child injuries that result from a field trip or other school activity, as there is a reasonable expectation that children are taken care of by the people who are responsible for keeping them safe.
From a statistical standpoint, it's inevitable that some kids are going to get hurt during a field trip. But if that a child is hurt because of negligence, the child's parents may wish to pursue a personal injury claim and hold the people responsible accountable for their actions.
Factors Impacting a Child Injury Case
First thing to consider in a lawsuit involving field trip injuries is the age and experience levels of the children. Several kindergarteners injured in a school bus accident is much different than a couple of high school seniors who tripped and fell while they were walking with a group.
The location of the field trip matters a lot. Did the school send the group of students on a trip to learn about an art museum, or were they touring a manufacturing plant? The common sense associated with choosing a safe place for children to visit is often a significant factor in determining liability for the child injuries.
Also important in a case involving child injuries is determining who was responsible for the injury or if someone could have prevented it. A child injury case is very different if the school teacher or bus driver is responsible for the accident as opposed to an employee at the location of the field trip itself. Someone is likely responsible either way, but this helps us to determine if it is the fault of the school or another company.
Obstacles in Determining Negligence
Beyond determining who could have potentially caused or prevented the child injuries, it is also important to understand whether a person or entity was negligent in the case. For instances involving schools, one important aspect is whether the institution was public or private.
There are many laws that bar public schools from being liable in the event of child injuries from a field trip. These laws vary by state, but overall, a student at a private school would have a much better chance of being compensated for damages than one at a public school.
It is also very common for schools to have parents sign a liability release form, also known as a waiver, before a field trip. Although a parent’s signature on these forms releases the school from liability in the event of child injuries, if the school is found to have been grossly negligent – meaning the school failed to take even the simplest and most obvious safety measures – then the school can still be held responsible and the family could recover damages.
Ultimately, it is in your best interest to consult with a child injury attorney to determine whether or not you have a claim. As we mentioned, child injury laws can be complicated and vary from state-to-state, so an experienced attorney will be familiar with those laws and provide you with the best advice.