Visitor Question

If you get hurt on school grounds after hours, is the school liable?

Submitted By: Leo (Provo, UT)

After school our teachers encourage us not to ride any modes of transportation. They put teachers outside to stop student from riding them. I was curious about the law behind this and if the school was liable for injuries that happen on their property during after school hours, and after the school is in possession of the children.

I proceeded to ask a teacher that told me to get off my long board, why this rule was in place. All she told me was that it’s because of the liability.

So my question is, if you get hurt on school grounds after school hours while riding scooters, bikes, skateboards, etc., is the school liable for the damage to the student?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Leo,

That’s a great question Leo. In most cases, schools and school districts will not be held liable for injuries to students when students are on school grounds. The idiom “accidents happen” generally applies in these cases.

Students are injured all the time on school property while playing sports, running in the halls, slipping and falling on spilled drinks, etc. If the school were to be held liable every time a student was injured, the school would effectively not be able to function.

For a school to be held liable for a student’s injuries, there must be a showing of some form of gross negligence, or a reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of a student.

For example, if a student was running down the hall and slipped on water unintentionally spilled by another student, and the student was injured, the school would likely not be liable. For the school to be liable the school would have had to have notice of the spilled water, and with that knowledge failed to timely clean up the spill, or failed to cordon off the area.

It gets a little more complicated. Even though the school may know about the spilled water, the school must have a reasonable amount of time to clean up the water or cordon off the area.

For example, if the spill occurred at 2:30 in the afternoon, and a student reported the spill at 2:35, and a student slipped and fell at 2:40, the school would likely not be held liable. Under normal circumstances it takes more than 5 minutes for the school office to notify their janitor to clean up the spill or cordon off the area.

However, if the school knew about the spill and took no action to clean it up or cordon off the area, or didn’t take care of the spill until 4:00, and in the interim a student slipped and fell, then it is arguable the school would be liable for the student’s injuries.

When a teacher tells students not to use their scooters, bikes, skateboards, etc. and a student ignores the teacher’s direction, and that student is injured, the school would likely not be liable. This brings us back to the original premise that schools are normally not liable for injuries to students on school property unless there can be a showing of gross negligence, or a wanton disregard for the student’s safety and well-being.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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