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Back To School Should Not Mean Back To Emergency Rooms – Personal Injury | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


Anecdotal reports of the scourge that is
‘back-to-school-itis’ begin to trickle in around the August
long weekend. “Is vacation really half over?” ask
children who show early symptoms. Tension mounts as more stores
start advertising back-to-school sales. By Labour Day, the
impending sense of school-age dread reaches a crescendo.

Of course, this seasonal affliction’s effects are generally
short-lived. First-day nerves and jitters usually dissipate by the
time recess rolls around.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of other ways children can
suffer serious injuries in the first few days and weeks that follow
the start of the new school year.

In this blog post, I outline some of the most common school-related injuries and offer tips on how
to help keep children safe.

Where Are ‘Back to School’ Injuries Likely to
Happen?

The majority of school injuries happen at one of three times
during the days: drop-off, pick-up and recess.

When cars and buses congregate around the school for arrival
and dismissal, students are at greater risk of being involved in a
motor vehicle accident. In these crowded
areas, it’s all too easy for a momentary lapse of attention to
result in injury. Even vehicles moving at slow speeds can cause
serious harm if a child is caught between a vehicle and a
stationary object or if they get caught under a wheel or the
vehicle.

Many schools have monitors and/or crossing guards to help keep
traffic controlled, but accidents can and still do happen when
people are in a rush or excited.

Speaking of excitement, it’s definitely not in short supply
at recess. As kids burst through the doors to the school yard and
playground, they are free to engage in semi-supervised play.
Teachers, teaching assistants and other school staff will be on
yard duty to monitor children at play, but with many more children
than adults in the area, not all preventable accidents will be
stopped in time.

What Are Common ‘Back to School’ Accidents and
Injuries?

During these periods of the day, several types of accidents and
injuries are more likely to occur, including:

  • Playground equipment accidents – Falls from
    equipment can cause concussions or other head trauma, broken bones,
    dislocated joints, sprains, strains, cuts, bruising, internal
    bleeding and even strangulation if ropes or chains become tangled
    or wrapped around a child’s neck.

  • Schoolyard fights – Children can be impulsive
    generally and some children may have particular challenges trying
    to stay regulated. Physical fights among children (rock-throwing,
    punching, pushing, scratching) can all cause minor to major
    injuries.

  • Accidental slips, trips and falls – While at
    play, children may fall and/or land awkwardly when running,
    skipping, or playing games. Broken or sprained ankles and wrists
    are common, as are injuries to knees and elbows.

  • Motor vehicle accidents – Whether they are in
    a car/bus that is involved in a collision or a pedestrian that has
    been hit, motor vehicle accidents may cause head and spine trauma,
    fractures, and soft tissue trauma.

  • Sports injuries – Beyond casual playground
    games, sports played at recess or in physical education classes can
    be a source of concussions, fractures, cuts and bruising.

What Other Types of School Injuries Are There?

While the accidents and injuries listed above are the most
common ways children are injured at school, there are other types
of school-related injuries that can cause tremendous harm.

  • Severe allergic reactions – Food and
    environmental allergies are becoming more common. Although most
    schools will have policies to reduce the likelihood that a child is
    exposed to life-threatening allergens (for example, nut-free lunch
    policies), a child could go into anaphylactic shock if they have a
    severe allergy to food, chemicals, insect bites, or other
    allergens.

  • Leaving school property – Whether a child is
    “a runner” or is intentionally taken off school property
    without permission, there are many potential dangers if a child
    leaves school property without the knowledge of their teachers,
    staff or other supervisors.

  • Physical and sexual assault/abuse – All school
    employees are subject to police background checks due to the
    vulnerable nature of the children in their care. Unfortunately,
    there still can be incidences of physical or sexual assaults/abuse perpetrated by school
    employees or fellow students.

  • Psychological abuse/bullying – Peer
    relationships and peer/teacher approval are very important for
    children. If a child is harassed on a continual basis due to their
    appearance, gender, race, sexuality, ability, class, or for other
    reasons, it can have serious consequences for their mental health -
    both in the short-term and long-term.

Safety Tips for School Age Children.

There are times when a child could not have done anything to
prevent their injury. However, by teaching your child preventative
safety measures, you can help reduce their risk of injury (or the
severity of their injury).

Some general school safety tips include:

  • Observing their surroundings at all times (looking both ways
    when crossing streets, waiting for cars to completely stop at
    crossings, watching their step).

  • Taking steps to make themselves visible to motor vehicle
    drivers (making eye contact with drivers when crossing the street,
    not running between cars, wearing bright clothes or having
    reflective material on backpacks).

  • Avoiding game play that involves contact or rough-housing.

  • Asking a teacher or supervisor for help if they feel
    unsafe.

  • Alerting a teacher if they witness other students being unsafe
    or if they spot a hazard on school property that hasn’t been
    marked off with a warning sign.

  • Talking to teachers and parents if they feel they are being
    bullied by other students or school staff.

  • Having an epi-pen or other allergy medication on hand (and
    alerting the school to allergies/medications).

  • Paying attention to instructions and wearing all necessary
    safety equipment when playing sports.

  • Reporting any injuries, such as falls or blows to the head, to
    a teacher/supervisor, even if they seem minor.

Who Is Responsible For Injuries at School?

If your child is seriously injured or becomes permanently
disabled while going to school, at school, or on the way home from
school, their young lives may be changed forever. In some cases, if
another person’s intentional or negligent actions/inaction
causes or contributes to their injury, they may be liable for
damages and compensation.

Determining liability is a complex process that is based on
applicable statutory law, common law and specific facts. Often
courts are asked to rule on whether a person is liable for another
person’s injury or to decide what proportion of liability they
have.

It’s always advisable to contact an experienced personal
injury lawyer to investigate the circumstances of an accident or
injury. They can help inform you of your rights and whether you may
have an actionable claim. It’s also important to determine if
liability may be shared by multiple people or institutions.

In terms of common school accidents, there are certain questions
to ask when determining potential liability. For example:

Car/Bus Drivers – If a child is injured a
passenger in a car or bus or as a pedestrian/cyclist, you might
ask:

  • Did police lay charges against an at-fault driver?

  • Did the accident occur outside the vicinity of the school?

  • Was there or should there have been supervision of the child at
    the time of the injury?

  • Did the child’s own negligence cause or contribute to the
    injury?

  • Is the child of an age when they could/should be expected to
    take greater personal care/precautions?

Teachers/Principals/School Staff/School Boards
– If a child is hurt while in school or during recess, you may
ask:

  • Who was primarily responsible for the child’s safety at the
    time of the accident/incident?

  • Were the adults responsible for the child’s safety
    following Ministry of Education and school/school board guidelines
    and rules?

  • Did the teacher/principal act ‘in loco parentis’?

  • Were they acting in the way a reasonably prudent parent would
    act given the same circumstances?

  • Was the person supervising familiar with the child?

  • Were the premises where the child was injured kept reasonably
    safe from known hazards?

  • Did the child’s own negligence cause or contribute to their
    injury?

  • Is the child of an age when they could/should be expected to
    take greater personal care/precautions?

Students/Parents – If another student was
primarily or partially responsible for another student’s
injuries, you may ask:

  • Was this student able to understand the reasonable consequences
    of their actions?

  • Was this student previously identified as someone who had acted
    dangerously, caused harm, or attempted to cause harm to other
    students (or particularly your child)?

  • Who was or who should have been supervising your child? Were
    they distracted?

  • Were the student’s parents grossly negligent in teaching
    the child appropriate behaviour or did they encourage unsafe
    behaviour?

  • Did the child’s own negligence cause or contribute to their
    injury?

  • Is the child of an age when they could/should be expected to
    take greater personal care/precautions?

Help When You’ve Been Hurt.

Back to school time will always be filled with a mix of joy,
nerves, excitement and weary resignation among school age children.
But there should be no room for preventable injuries within that
mix. Teaching your children good school safety habits can help keep
them out of harm’s way; but it may still not be enough to
counter the negligent or intentional acts of another person.

If a serious injury does occur, reach out to Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers for a no
cost, no obligation initial consultation. Our injury lawyers will
listen to your story with great empathy and provide information
about your rights and options. If we believe we can help you get
compensation for your loved one’s injuries, we will gladly
offer to be your trusted advocate and legal representative.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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