Student injury- Will I be sued?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Tortie, Apr 16, 2021.

  1. Tortie

    Tortie New Member

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    Apr 16, 2021

    I teach third grade. Today during dismissal, I asked students to please walk and get their backpacks. Next thing I knew I heard a bang and crying. I did not see what happened since I was speaking with a student, but a few of my students ran to the door, one fell, and hit his head on the metal that frames my classroom window by the door. (This student is one that just got in trouble yesterday for running in the classroom.) After the bell rang, I asked him if he wanted to go to the nurse and he said no because his mom is waiting for him and would worry if he is late, so I walked with him to her car. By the time we got there his forehead had a small bump on it where he hit it. I explained what happened to the mom and she told him that they would ice it at home. I told her to please keep me updated with how he is doing since I was concerned and she said she would.

    Clearly there will be a change in dismissal procedure. Students will walk by rows to get backpacks. This was not previously an issue, but I'm assuming since it was Friday they were in a rush to leave.

    I am constantly worried about this student and hope that he recovers quickly from this. I am also worried since I work in a high socio-economic area that I will easily be sued for this injury and lose my career. Please advice if you can as I am worried sick about this student and my career. This is only going to be my 2 1/2 years of teaching.
     
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  3. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Apr 16, 2021

    The general rule is that anyone can be sued for anything at any time.

    The second rule is that if you're going to sue someone, make sure they have deep pockets.

    Affluent parents will also know who they're going to irritate by suing you (or rather, the school -- which will be the actual target) -- the ones who fund the school and whose money is being wasted defending a lawsuit because their precious darling was careless. That is, the other affluent parents in the town. Little Johnny Knucklehead is going to find himself invited to scant few birthday parties or anything else if his parents seem to be the type that sue when he bumps his head.

    What's more likely, if the parents really blame you, is gossip. They'll tell other parents you're a careless teacher. While some parents might believe them, most will likely take it with a grain of salt.
     
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  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Apr 21, 2021

    For future reference, as soon as you became aware of the situation that resulted in a student injury, you should reach out to the nurse and administration. Mom can wait while the student is checked out, and administration probably has paperwork and prescribed protocols for a student injured on school grounds. Mom should be grateful that procedures are in place for dealing with any accident occurring on school grounds, and your administration would be grateful to have the students looked at before leaving school grounds, just to make sure that everyone has the same information about what is known about the accident, an assessment by the nurse, which may or may not include a referral to a physician. Having a paper trail that starts ASAP after the accident may help the school fend off misinformation that gets shared in the neighborhood. The vast majority of parents would be grateful to know that the school district is prepared for the unforeseen and accidents that may occur from time to time. A paper trail that documents what is known to have happened, the why it happened if known, and the follow-up by the correct school personnel, including medical personnel, school administrators, and documentation from people who may be able to shed more light into exactly what happened. I've never worked at a school where that student would have been allowed to leave the school without following the kinds of procedures that I discussed above. The student may just have a bump on the head, but I'm really thinking that you should have brought the principal and school nurse into the situation instead of turning over the student to his mother without their OK.
     
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  5. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Apr 22, 2021

    Here is my take and I was just in the same exact situation yesterday. The kids were cleaning up at the end of the day and one of my girls bumped her head. I checked it to make sure it wasn't bleeding or cut. I told her we were about to leave and that she would be ok. You know some kids cry as soon as you react to their injury. As we were walking out about 5 minutes later she said to me my head really hurts. So this time I felt for a bump. She indeed had a small little bump. So I told her Mom about it as soon as we got outside and guess what??? Mom wasn't mad, she didn't threaten to sue. She just thank you and took her child and went home. Im sure by the time they got home either she got some ice on it or totally forgot about it. There wasn't time to take her to the nurse or principal, In fact I needed to see the principal after school about something else and had to wait about an hour to see her. If this child had been bleeding or an instant HUGE bump I definitely would have treated things different. If we worry about parents every time we make a decision in our classroom they might as well come teach the class for us. I have been a mom for 30 years and never once I have a I gotten upset because a teacher didn't take care of my kid the way I though they should.
     
  6. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Apr 22, 2021

    Well, what was stopping the mom from saying, "no, I want him to see the nurse before we leave"? You told her what happened. I can't see this being a situation where you'd be sued. If the mom went above your head to contact administration about it they would probably advise you on what to do differently next time.
     
  7. Peachpies

    Peachpies Rookie

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    Apr 22, 2021

    You are fine. Don't get worked up.
     
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  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Apr 22, 2021

    Since OP titled the thread "Am I Getting Sued" I simply responded with the training information that we go over every year, to make it highly unlikely that we will get sued for negligence. I've been a mom for over 30 years, too, but I can remember what an injury, especially around the head, would have caused me great concern if I found out no one saw the accident or followed up with the main office and nurse. I'm in NJ, and the public schools always have to show that although accidents may happen, the staff is well versed in the steps to take so that the child is appropriately cared for, parent's questions can be honestly answered, and the state doesn't need to step in because we follow the guidelines we have all been given. Following the rules is what prevents law suits.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Apr 23, 2021

    If I got sued for each time a student bumped their head, I would be living in a tent. I think for the most part you handled it well. I would take some of the tips from the posts above to make it even better next time.
     
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  10. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    Apr 24, 2021

    The mom seemed understanding, so I am sure it'll be fine. If you have fear of lawsuits or procedure to follow though, you might want to take a 3rd grader with a bump on the head to be seen by the nurse from now on and fill out an incident report. That way the school has documentation of what happened. You are covered that way.
    You have an excellent "natural consequence" for him and a teaching opportunity of why you have rules that include not running!
     
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  11. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Apr 25, 2021

    I honestly would just say from a training perspective at least touch base with the administration and see what if anything you could have done differently.

    I actually had a parent ty too sue me a couple of years ago. It was because of the trebuchet project my physics class would make. After all, the trebuchet is the ultimate demonstration of the principal of mechanical advantage. Well I always covered my a double s with safety and permission slips, etc etc. And this thing was a two week project for the jr/Sr honors physics class. Students get an exhaustive list of what not to do, safety precautions, safety videos, etc. I had to do all of that to make it district approved.

    Anyways, when they build the trebuchet, there’s an area close to the frame marked as “DANGER RISK OF HAND INJURY KEEP HANDS CLEAR” because when the mechanism works, well, anything there gets smashed. I demonstrated this with a watermelon that made watermelon smoothie. Student thought he could move his hand away before it smacked. He thought incorrectly. Mom tried to sue me for the injury. My lawyer ate her alive. I had a dozen witnesses to the stupidity, and a video showing him willingly putting his hand there and trying to pull it out in time.
     
  12. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2021

    While there are a lot of sue happy people out there, I wouldn't worry. I have 2 situations to share. I'm a drama teacher, so we are always doing things that could get them hurt. I was doing a production of Midsummer, and at the end of the show, my actors came out into the audience and pulled up audience members to join them in the final scene. At final dress, one of my actors did that, with a student who was sitting in as an audience member. The "audience" student was a little too forceful as he leapt from his seat. The cast member fell backwards and hit his head on the edge of the stage. There was blood, a lot, needed stitches. I was so worried! Mom and Dad listened, laughed, and moved on. I also had a student knock out another student's tooth when they jumped into their arms to celebrate winning 1st place at a competition. Hugging/Jumping student hit other student's tooth with her head. Again, blood, lots of it. Mom understood and it was fixed. I of course explained to the parents in full detail, and included my admin, just in case, but nothing came of either, thank goodness.
     
  13. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Apr 26, 2021

    I think it's
    Yeah, unless in those cases you did something to help the accident along I don't see how you personally could be sued. That would be nuts.
     

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