No parent ever wants to get the phone call telling them their child got hurt at school. As soon as the person on the other end says there’s been an accident, your whole heart sinks, and every single worst-case scenario runs through your mind at once. No matter what they say to reassure you the damage isn’t that bad, your mind will not stop from thinking about how much worse it can get in between the time you get the call and the time you pick your child up from school.
Most school injuries are minor and accidental. Chances are, anytime you do get a phone call warning you your child’s been injured, it’s not the end of the world and they’re going to be fine. But that doesn’t mean medical bills to treat even relatively minor damage can’t add up, particularly if your insurance is subpar or absent. For many parents, the question becomes one of liability - who is financially liable for paying for your child’s medical bills if the cause of injury was due to their caretaker’s neglect?
What you should do depends entirely on the situation your child was injured in, how badly they’re injured and what potential medical and financial consequences your family faces as a result of the injury. In some cases, it could be a non-issue. In others, you might have to take your kid’s school to court.
Figure out how bad the damage is
The first thing you should do is assess the damage to your child as soon as you get the opportunity to do so. Take a good look, and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion if necessary. If there is any severe physical damage, such as blood or bruising, consider taking pictures to document what your child looked like when you went to pick them up.
If necessary, take your child to a doctor or a hospital for immediate medical treatment before you worry about anything else.
If there’s no need for immediate medical treatment, then you probably already know right away that the injury isn’t serious and there won’t be any long-lasting or financial repercussions from medical negligence. If that’s the case, there’s nothing to make a fuss about - chalk it up to a bad accident, ask the school to watch out for your child in the future and return to your day.
However, if your child is extremely ill or severely injured to the point of requiring immediate medical treatment - or to the point that they’re transported to the hospital by the school - then you’re in an entirely different situation.
Determine if someone’s at fault
Once your child has received medical treatment, it’s time to determine who’s at fault. Even the most violent injuries might be accidental or unavoidable - children take risks, sneak around and push their boundaries. Talk to your child, his teachers and watchers, and other adults who might have been around in order to get a clear understanding of what happened that caused the injury.
If you’re concerned that someone may have been negligent - for example, by failing to adequately supervise your child, by providing dangerous equipment, by encouraging rough physical activity or by failing to take your child’s physical capabilities into consideration - then you will need to document as much evidence as possible in order to make a case.
Record your conversations with anyone you talk to about the incident (make sure to research recording laws in your state and receive permission to do so when necessary) in order to maintain a record of what witnesses said. Talk to doctors about the injury, medical treatment required and what could have been done to prevent it. If you’re thinking of bringing a lawsuit, it’s critical to get as much information as possible beforehand.
Look into legal proceedings if necessary
If the school was somehow at fault for your child’s accident, it’s time to talk to a skilled personal injury attorney about filing a lawsuit to recoup medical and legal feels associated with your child’s accident. An attorney will be able to walk you through the requirements for making a case in your state, what precedents exist for this particular legal matter and what avenues you have to receive compensation, if you’re interested in an out-of-court solution. No parent ever wants to hear that your child is injured at school, but if you do get the call, you should know exactly what steps to take to protect yourself and your child financially in the aftermath.