Legally reviewed by:
Setareh Law
October 31, 2022

Kids get into all manner of trouble while at school. It’s rare for that trouble to cause them physical harm, but horseplay can result in accidents. If your child comes home from school injured, who do you hold responsible for their well-being? How do waivers and other forms impact your legal right to action?

You can ask a personal injury attorney all of these questions and more in the wake of your child’s recent injury. Our team at Setareh Law can work with you to gather evidence of liability, untangle a school’s relationships with its vendors, and ensure that you and your child have the means you need to recover.

How Do You Establish Liability?

Liability for an accident that takes place at a school depends on the nature of the accident in question. While most employees in a school district are protected by that district, there may be instances in which outside parties influence the safety of your child.

For example, a child who suffers from food poisoning based on the quality of school meals is, by law, injured at school. While you can hold the parties who made their meal liable for your child’s condition, food providers may also bear some responsibility for your child’s well-being. You need to have an attorney investigate your child’s circumstances to determine who to hold liable.

Similarly, if a child is injured on a bus, there’s some debate as to whether the school or the company that hired the bus driver should be held liable for your child’s well-being. If the bus driver operates as an independent contractor, that bus driver may even be individually responsible for your child’s losses.

Independent Contractors and On-Site Employees All Play a Role

The division between independent contractors and registered employees has never been more important than when considering who to hold responsible for a child’s well-being in a school district. For example, a child who slips and falls on school property may blame a janitor for the accident.

Who, though, bears responsibility for that janitor? Is the janitor an independent contractor who represents themselves? Are they an employee of an outside agency? Are they a member of the school district and thus protected by the umbrella of said district?

You have to ask these questions if you want to determine who to file a claim against. Fortunately, no parent is required to take attention away from their child while that child is in recovery. Instead, parents can work with personal injury attorneys to follow the trail of evidence to the party liable for their child’s misfortune.

School Districts Benefit From Qualified Immunity

If it appears that a teacher or party employed by the school district specifically is responsible for your child at school, you have a limited amount of time to file a claim against the offender. This is because school districts are considered government entities in the state of California. As such, schools benefit from qualified immunity in the face of civil claims.

Qualified immunity shortens the deadline by which you need to file a relevant claim. You need to consult a personal injury attorney to determine how much time you have to file and to bring together the data needed to protect your child in that time.

The deadline for cases brought against independent contractors or outside parties is more generous. You can abide by California’s broader personal injury statute of limitations, or California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1, if you want to take up a claim against an offending party.

Children and California’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

All that said, California is generous when considering personal injury cases involving children. In most cases, parents filing on a child’s behalf have until that child turns 18 to act in that child’s legal interest, regardless of the statute of limitations that normally apply to that child’s case.

Children, upon turning 18, then have an additional two years to bring their case to a civil court’s attention. All parties interested in pursuing a case against an offending body may consult an attorney to determine how age, representation, and the nature of the accident in question contribute to the deadline by which your complaint needs to reach a county clerk.

Discuss Your Child’s Injury With a Personal Injury Attorney

When you trust a school with your child’s safety, you want to know that all parties therein will make a reasonable effort to keep your child from coming to harm. If your child endures an accident at school, you need to know who to hold responsible for that negligence. This can be difficult to work out, with inter-school relationships and policies influencing your legal rights.

Fortunately, our personal injury attorneys at Setareh Law are on the case. We can help you figure out liability for your child’s losses, allowing you to take legal action on your child’s behalf and potentially get the compensation your family may be owed. Our law firm’s Spanish-speaking representatives are available to discuss your case online or over the phone. Call us at (310) 659-1826 or use our online contact form to schedule your case consultation today.