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Written by Peter Carter

May 26, 2016

Nothing frightens parents like the thought of their child being in an unsafe situation. Children are vulnerable and we trust childcare workers and school staff to keep their best interests at mind and a hawk-like watch on them at all times. But sometimes accidents happen.

It’s fairly normal to find children coming home from school with cuts and bruises every now and then, whether from running around, participating in sport or lunchtime games, or just being generally overly excited. However, if your child sustains a serious injury due to the negligence of the school, you may have a personal injury claim, depending on the circumstances.

Schools owe a duty to students to take reasonable care for their safety. That duty applies to all students on school premises, and where students venture off campus while under the control of staff, such as on excursions, at camps or other sporting or recreational activities.

However, the right to compensation is not automatic. There’s no requirement for schools to supervise children at all times nor is there a fixed student-to-teacher supervisory ratio, each case is accessed individually. Courts do not expect schools or teachers to have eyes on the back of their head or be able to stop every single playground accident. Kids like to play, and accidents do happen.

For more information, go to: Public Liability – Schools

Most schools have policies regarding the minimum number of staff supervising the grounds during break periods.

However, teachers will not be expected to prevent all misbehaviour unless the action represents a protracted breach of disciplines, such as a stick fight or a game involving running on hard pavement. The school’s duty of care is at it’s highest when children are inside a classroom, as teachers would be expected to have the capacity and control to supervise that space.

The standard of care depends on many factors, including the student’s age, capacity, intelligence, disability, the level of risk involved and the teacher’s past knowledge. So although you may have a claim against your child’s school there are a number of factors which may come into play in establishing a duty of care.

If you need further advice or have any questions feel free to give one of our professionals a call on 07 3210 3437.

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