By: Shanna Gill, Paralegal
Many B.C. children require medical attention year round following incidents and accidents at school. These incidents and accidents can be during classroom activities, recess/lunch breaks or during field trips where a fun and exciting activity turns into a traumatizing mental or physical injury. There are various reasons for these injuries such as: faulty equipment, improper supervision, maintenance negligence, no warning signs, slip and falls, playground injuries, sports injuries, fights/violence, exposure to hazardous materials, accidents on school buses, sexual abuse, and so much more.
A parent or guardian should feel safe sending their child to school and not have to feel afraid of all the “what ifs.” That is why in B.C., the Occupiers Liability Act act applies to all school boards across the province. Under this act, a duty of care is owed by a school board which extends out to the following:
- Condition of premises;
- Activities occurring on premises; and
- 3rd parties conduct during use of premises.
To further clarify the duty of care, it is important to understand that the school has an obligation to protect the children from harm while under the schools care. Another important term is negligence. A school can be found negligent if a school’s teacher, coach, driver, principal or another staff member fails to act responsibly while the child is under their care. In other words, if the care taker of the school does something that a reasonable person would not do in that same situation then the school can be held negligent.
If your child was injured at school and you believe it was due to the school’s negligence, the first step is to gather and reserve evidence. Proof of the injuries your child sustained can include but not limited to the following:
- Photos/videos of the dangerous conditions and of the injuries;
- Video surveillance (try to request this in writing early on);
- Witness statements or a list of all witnesses including contact information present at time of incident;
- Damages (these must be calculable and provable). The best way for this is to keep track and request all clinical records for any treatment providers your child has and is attending. Also, keeping a record of all your out-of-pocket expenses is a good idea for claiming special expenses.
- If your child is a teenager and employed, then he or she may have had lost wages so including a proof of wage loss is another good idea for claiming wage loss.
The main thing to know is that the limitation period is 2 years from the day your child turns 19 years old to bring an action in court in B.C. For example, if your child was 12 years old at the time of the incident/accident, the child actually has until their 21st birthday to file a lawsuit against the school.
Are you wanting to know how much your claim is worth? Come see us and we can help in answering all your questions and determining the right direction for your matter.