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Orlando Child Injury Lawyer on School District Duty of Care

Our Orlando child injury lawyers know that when you send your child to school each day, the school accepts responsibility for your child’s safety and well-being. This is a “duty of care” owed by the school. The question at issue in Florida child injury lawsuits is often the extent of that duty. 

In the past, Florida’s sovereign immunity laws were generally thought to bar lawsuits against school districts (a government entity), even when their actions resulted in the personal injury of a child. Then in 1981, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal ruled the state’s amended sovereign immunity law was unconstitutional, and that a school district could be held liable for failure to supervise an extracurricular activity resulting in personal injury. This decision was affirmed by the Florida Supreme court in Rupp v. Bryant. In 1984, Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal ruled in Leahy v. Sch. Bd. of Hernando Cnty., that in the context of student athletes, schools have a responsibility to avoid aggravation of injury. In 2000, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal expanded consideration of duty owed by a school, widening analysis to factual scope, extent and performance of that duty.

Still, Orlando child injury lawyers know that claims against school districts can still be difficult, given the hurdles we must overcome due to the fact that sovereign immunity laws do still apply, though waiver can be found in F.S. 768.28. Claims under this provision are also capped at $200,000 per person and $300,000 per incident, the only exception being those who press for an individual claims bill through the state legislature.

Further, schools are often protected from legal liability when the negligent act was discretionary (required a judgment call by the employer) rather than operational. Determining whether your case falls into one of those exceptions or is worth pursuing is something you should discuss with an experienced with one of our Orlando child injury lawyers.

Orlando Child Injury Lawyers Help Parents Pursue School Injury Claims

Recently in Orlando, the alleged injury of a student in fall 2013 at Jones High School has prompted a personal injury lawsuit against the school board.

Plaintiff alleges the educational institution failed in its duty to maintain records of known medical syndromes of students and to inform its teachers of these conditions. The complaint asserts that when plaintiff was a minor student at defendant’s high school, her physical education teacher forced her to run one mile. This was done even though the school was aware or should have been aware of her diagnosis of a condition called osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as “brittle bone disease.”

For a person with brittle bone disease, running a mile could (and in this case, plaintiff says, did) have serious consequences and cause significant injuries. As noted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, there are four different levels of severity of the disease, each with unique symptoms, but all leaving the individual prone to bone fractures.

Plaintiff alleged the school district employee forcing her to run resulted in serious and permanent injuries, inflicting pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of capacity to enjoy life. She further asserted the school’s failure to properly train and supervise its employees was a significant catalyst for this. She’s seeking more than $15,000 in damages.

Why Schools May Owe a Higher Duty of Care to Students

Orlando child injury lawyers can explain that in general, there is an expectation that all of us will act reasonably toward each other when we have the responsibility to do so. Failure to do so is negligence. But what is considered “reasonable” depends on the circumstances. In some situations, a person (or in this case, entity) can be held to a higher standard.

For example, elementary schools may have a higher duty of care than high schools because young children are known to be at heightened risk of injuries and less capable of protecting themselves.

Anytime they are children on site there may be a heightened standard of duty because what is deemed “reasonable” for minors is not the same standard as what is used for an adult.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

Former student alleges high school’s negligence led to injuries, Nov. 1, 2018, By Philip Gonzalez, Florida Record

More Blog Entries:

Average Claim for Auto Insurance in Palm Beach Crash Cases, Oct. 12, 2018, Orlando Child Injury Lawyer Blog

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