Can a School Be Held Liable for Negligence if Your Child Is Injured on a Field Trip?
A recent case raises the question of school negligence for injuries incurred by children while on a field trip. The case involves 15-year-old Cara Munn, who was bitten by a tick during a private school trip to China. The tick transmitted encephalitis, which left Munn permanently unable to speak, as reported by an article in the Hartford Courant. In response, Munn and her parents brought a case against the school, resulting in a $41.5 million jury award. The school has appealed.
Are Schools Responsible for Children?
The primary question that is brought forth by the Munn case is whether schools, public and private alike, owe their students a duty of care, and whether that duty of care extends to field trips. As demonstrated by the decision in this specific instance, it appears that the answer to both questions is yes. Schools across the United States owe a duty of care to students in their care.
Proving Negligence After Injuries Sustained on a Field Trip
To hold a school liable for injuries that a child incurs while on a field trip, the plaintiff must prove that the school neglected their duty to a child. In the case above, the plaintiffs argued that the school neglected its duty to Munn by failing to warn her of the risk of insect-borne illness, encourage her to dress appropriately and use insect repellent, etc.
While the case above may be extreme, another example is this: A class takes a field trip to an outdoor nature park that has lakes and streams. During the field trip, one of the children falls into the water, suffering a severe brain injury as a result of the near-drowning experience. The child’s parents sue the school, holding that the school should have supervised the child, and warned the child of the dangers of approaching the water.
Another example of school liability (although not one that involves a field trip) is the 2015 tragic case involving the parents of a bullied teen, who committed suicide. They filed a claim against the school alleging that had the school had anti-bullying policies in place, their son’s life could have been saved.
Bringing a Claim Against a School District
If your child is at school, whether in the classroom, on the playground, on a field trip, or even on the bus, you may have a cause of action against the school. However, bringing claims against school districts tend to be more complicated than are bringing claims against private entities. For this reason it is critical that you speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. At the offices of Stanger Law, our lawyers are here to help you. We can review your case for free, and provide you with the information you need moving forward. If you have a case, we will work hard for you on a contingency fee basis. Contact us today to schedule your consultation now.