School Injuries Raise Serious Safety Concerns in South Florida

Recently, there have been reports of children being injured at school or leaving the school grounds unnoticed.

One report covered a serious injury that a child sustained while playing on a gym and the other told of a student walking away from a school and later drowning in a pond.

Our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys know that students should be properly supervised at school to reduce the number of accidents, some with possible deadly consequences. Avoiding injuries due to both negligent supervision and due to sports play at school is absolutely essential, yet schools seem to be failing in too many instances.

Recent Accidents Raise Awareness of School Safety Issues
According to a recent article in the Sun Sentinel, a six grader was seriously injured at Deerfield Beach Middle School and had to be airlifted to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. The 12-year-old student was in the gym at the time and was playing under the bleachers. The child sustained head injuries and appeared to be stable when he arrived at the hospital.

This tragic incident was not the only incident in Florida that occurred recently. As reported by the Tampa Bay Times, a special education student recently walked away from the Pierce Middle School and walked six miles to his home. He was not injured but the student’s teacher has been suspended.

In that same article, yet another recent incident was mentioned involving a student with Down’s Syndrome who left a gym class at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview. She later drowned in a pond. The incident at Pierce was referred to the Sheriff’s Child Protective Investigations unit and it was deemed a case of inadequate supervision. The case at Rodgers was investigated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the school district.

School Injuries Caused by Negligent Supervision

These incidents and many other injuries that occur at school are often caused by negligent supervision. Negligent supervision can result in a child leaving the grounds unnoticed or injuring himself while on school grounds. If it is found that a teacher or coach who was in charge of a student was negligent, the school can be held responsible for the student’s injury or death.

In addition to general negligent supervision cases, schools are also commonly held responsible for sports injuries that occur on school grounds. Sports injuries can affect the head, back, spinal cord, bones and joints and may be caused by:

  • Protective gear that is inadequate or unused
  • Activities that are inappropriate for the student’s skills or developmental level
  • A playing surface that is poor quality
  • Not matching players in a fair wasy according to ability or size
  • Coaches that are not properly trained or are abusive

Sports injuries may be even more common than general negligent supervision cases. In fact, the National Center for Sports Safety reported that:

  • More than 38 million children and adolescents participate in sports each year in the U.S and more than 3.5 million of those aged 14 and under receive medical treatment for sports injuries.
  • From 2001 through 2009, it is estimated that there were over 1.7 million emergency department visits among children 14 and under for injuries related to sports or recreation; 6 percent of these visits involved traumatic brain injuries.
  • Among children ages 14 and under, the top five sports associated with head injuries include: cycling, football, baseball and softball, basketball, and skateboards/scooters.
  • For males, the highest risk of concussion in organized sports is from football, while among females, soccer and basketball are the sports with the highest risk.

Like negligent supervision injuries, schools can be liable if a sports injury happens on school grounds or during school activities. The boy playing on the bleachers, for example, may have been injured due either to negligent supervision or to a sports injury. In either case, the school may be to blame.