“It’s All Fun and Games Until…”

It’s that time of year again; the kids have returned to school and you are drinking a coffee that is still warm. It has been an enjoyable summer packed full of activities of days at the park, beaches and anywhere else that could keep kids entertained for more than 10 minutes. The kids have had a great time but you feel worn out, all this watching and minding trying to prevent accidents or injuries is hard work – really hard work! Ever wondered how the teachers manage to do it at lunchtime? How can they look after a class full of 4 year olds or supervise 22 twelve year olds during a rowdy football game?  What happens if your child seriously injurers himself or herself during lunch break?

Personal Injuries in the School Yard

Dealing with claims of personal injuries in the school yard is increasing year on year. The Injuries Board conducted a report in 2010 and found that children between the ages of 3 and 7 are most likely to sustain playground type injuries. But as every parent knows, unless you have eyes on the back of your head it’s very difficult to keep an eye on kids – so at what point does a school become liable for your son or daughters’ injury?

Duty of Care

Teachers have a duty of care towards their pupils. The standard of care is that similar to a prudent parent who exercises reasonable care. Teachers must take reasonable care to ensure that their students do not meet with foreseeable injury. Failure on the part of the school to fulfil its duty may render the school liable to compensate a pupil who suffers injury as a result of an accident. Before determining liability the courts look at the age of the children, the activity been carried out and the level of supervision given.  There are two main areas where accidents have occurred in schools and these involve supervision in the school yard and supervision of children leaving the school at the end of the day. In a case in 2000 the child was bitten by a stray dog in the schoolyard. The court held that the school failed to have some form of supervision and the plaintiff was awarded damages. In another case a 5 year old was swinging on a swing. She swung too high and fell off injuring her back, the court found that there was inadequate supervision and awarded the plaintiff damages.

The level of supervision expected of teachers has been discussed in the courts in recent years and it is now established that the test is that of a careful parent. In other words schoolteachers ought to take such care of the pupils as a careful parent would take of their own children.

If you need further advices in relation to injury claims please feel free to contact me by telephone or at laura[at]brophysolicitors.ie

Laura Gillen

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