When you send your child off to school, church, camp, or practice, it is with the expectation that the adults in charge will keep him or her safe. If your child is injured while in the care of an institution, you may have a hard time getting answers about the incident. Was your child attacked or physically assaulted by an individual? Did her coach push her too hard at practice or in a game? Did his coach fail to follow proper protocol after a concussion, sending him back into the game? Whatever the circumstances surrounding the injury, the school, church, athletic program, or daycare center is likely to be at least partially to blame. You may have been told by the school, police, or even another lawyer that there is nothing you can do, but you owe it to yourself and your child to talk to DRZ Law about your options. We have experience holding schools and other organizations accountable when children are harmed.
Injuries at School Are Far Too Common
Unfortunately, there are dozens of ways for children to get hurt at school. Some of these injuries are caused by a child’s carelessness or disregard for rules—running down the hall, climbing on a desk, disobeying a coach’s instructions—but all too often, serious injuries happen because supervisors have failed in their duty to keep children safe. Some common causes of injuries in public and private schools, daycare centers, military schools, churches, and universities include:
- Suicide. Students who are bullied by peers, sexually assaulted by adults or other students, or victimized in ritualistic hazing incidents by athletic teams or social organizations can suffer deep psychological trauma that can affect their ability to function now and in the future. When students are driven to suicide because of bullying or abuse that occurred at school, church, or on an athletic team, those institutions should be held liable for not protecting the children under their supervision.
Violent Attacks. Every parent has to think about the possibility that their child could be the victim of a violent attack at school or church. If your child’s school or church failed to take measures to safeguard the children in their care and they are injured or killed in an attack, the institution or its employees may be held accountable.
- Violent Bullying and Hazing. Bullying may start through verbal taunts and insults, but it can also quickly devolve into physical bullying. A bully or group of bullies may begin physically attacking the victim to further injure and intimidate him or her. In many institutional settings the victim can never escape from the bullies, and the physical punishment continues to escalate and results in head and brain injuries and broken bones.
Children also become the victims of physical and sexual assault from peers on athletic teams, fraternities, and other organizations. Teammate-on-teammate assaults occur in all types of sports. Fraternities all over the country force their pledges to undergo physical pain and humiliation. Hazing is just another form of violent bullying. The only difference is that the perpetrators try to convince the victims to willfully submit to the punishment. But the physical attacks often result is severe physical injuries and even death. Perpetrators also sexually assault teammates or new members as part of a peverse initiation process.
- Sports-related injuries and death. Almost one-third of all childhood injuries are related to participation in a sport, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine; 3.5 million children suffer sports-related injuries each year, with 770,000 requiring a trip to the emergency room. Contact sports, such as football and hockey, have some of the highest injury rates, but athletes can be injured in any sport, particularly when they are not adequately supervised or instructed. The threat to a child becomes even more severe when a coach prioritizes "victory" over the health of the athlete. A coach may demand extreme physical conditioning that is beyond the physical limits of the child. Or a coach may ignore safety protocols meant to allow a child to recover from a concussion or other injury, instead pushing the athlete back onto the playing field too soon.
- Playground injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 200,000 children under the age of 15 are treated in emergency rooms for playground-related injuries each year, with 5- to 9-year-olds suffering the most injuries. Traumatic brain injuries, fractures, and contusions are the most common playground injuries seen in the ER. When a child’s injury is caused by dangerous equipment, poor maintenance, or inadequate supervision, the school may be liable for damages.
Whether a school, church, or athletic program employee was directly responsible for your child’s injury or not, in many instances, the institution could have taken actions to prevent harm. Investigating complaints of abuse or bullying, hiring competent staff, watching children attentively, and focusing on children’s safety rather than an athletic victory are all ways these organizations should protect children. We can help you make sure that other children don’t suffer in the same way your child has suffered.
How We Can Help
If your child was injured at school and you are being stonewalled or ignored—or your child is being blamed—contact our Kansas City law firm to see if we can help. Very few law firms are willing to take on these difficult cases, but we have the resources and experience to fight for you and your child. Tell us your story and we will start the process of getting the justice you and your child deserve.