While children are of school age, a majority of their waking moments are spent outside the house where they are assumed to be safe. Most of this time away from home is spent at school, where parents and guardians trust that their children are also safe. However, school injuries do happen, and in some cases the school may be held liable.
The tort liability of schools can be tricky. Most school injuries for younger children occur in playgrounds and other school areas, while middle- and high-school students suffer injury while participating in sports. If the school is a private enterprise, then it may be sued under the tort laws governing personal injury or premises liability.
However, public schools are a different kettle of fish. Public schools are considered government institutions, and as such have certain immunities when it comes to tort liability as established under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). Before the CGIA was passed, the immunity of public schools and their employees was absolute. In case of serious injury or wrongful death, public schools may be held liable under certain conditions under the CGIA.
One of the exceptions to sovereign immunity concerns premises liability. If school injuries are due to dangerous or unsafe conditions to any part of the school to which a student has legitimate access to, this can be the basis for a tort case against the school district. Another exception addresses the willful and wanton conduct of a school employee or faculty member that brings harm to a student while on premises, which can render them and the school district open to civil lawsuits.
If your child has suffered from preventable school injuries due to negligence, consult with a child injury lawyer in your area to find out more about tort law and how it may apply, or not, to your case.