Can i sue the school district for not notifying me of a serious injury to my child?

My child went on a field trip to a skating rink. She fell at the beginning of their skate time. I was not notified until hours later. Her arm is broken in 2 places and now needs surgery to repair it. Upon discussions with the school, I spoke to the assistant principle about the incident because I requested a copy of the accident report and the facts and times recorded were wrong. I was told that the school has a gray area and no real policy about calling a parent if their child is injured, which i know to be false. I have talked to the school board about all of this and its being investigated. Do I have grounds to sue for my child’s pain and suffering due to lack of supervision and medical attention. Bonus fact, there were 8 adults present and not one assisted my child, the staff at the facility tended to retrieving my child safely off the rink and basic first aid. There were no teachers or chaperones.

Asked on May 2, 2017 under Personal Injury, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The delay in notifying you or the lack of chaperones could establish liability, or an obligation to pay, based on being negligent: violating a duty of care to students through unreasonable carelessness. That is part of a viable lawsuit: establishing liability. The next part is establishing "damages," or the costs or injuries *caused by* the negligence. To have a case worth anything, you'd have to show one or both of the following:
1) The fall and arm break was due to a lack of chaperones--i.e. she would not have fallen if there  were chaperones. This may be very difficult to do, since a skater, especially a child, can fall no matter how many chaperones there are. But if you can't show this, you can't recover for the break itself.
2) That the delay in notifying you caused the break to get worse, or require additional medical care, or for your child to suffer longer-lasting or even permanent disability, as compared to what would have happened had you been notified right away. If you can show that--and you can't just assume it; you will need evidence, such as a doctor's testimony (which you'd have to pay the doctor for) that the delay caused medical problems--you can recover for "pain and suffering" and additional medical costs *caused* by the delay. Again, you may have difficulty showing that the delay caused a significant worsening of the arm or increase in costs, but if you can't, there is no compensation to receive on this basis.
There is little or  no compensation for your child being in pain for a few extra hours: the law simply does not award compensation in any appreciable amount for that. You need a worsed prognosis or greater medical costs from the delay to have something to sue over.

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