North County San Diego School Injury Lawyer

Representing students injured on campus or at school-related activities

California law recognizes that there is a special relationship between a school district and the students (and families) who attend, whether those schools are public or private, or large or small. A school district has an affirmative duty to take all reasonable steps to protect the students it educates Rodriguez v. Inglewood Unified School District (1986) 186 Cal.App.3d 707, 714. Although a school does not, and cannot, guarantee that a pupil will be safe at all times, a school must be safe and welcoming for all of its students. In public schools, teachers have a statutory duty to students to maintain a safe and welcoming environment, and to hold students to a strict account on the playgrounds, and on their way to and from school.

The North County San Diego school injury lawyers at Walton Law Firm understand these special relationships between school districts and students, and apply this well-established law when injured students. In the cities of North County San Diego – from Poway to Del Mar, and Escondido to Oceanside - there are well over 100 schools and colleges.

Employees of North County schools and school districts are held by attorneys to a standard of care of ordinary prudence. That is, they must act like another employee of comparable duties would act under the same or similar circumstances. It is not simply enough to be present in a classroom or on a playground, district employees must take care to foresee and avoid situations that could be potentially dangerous, even under circumstances where a similar accident or injury has never happened before.

The age and maturity level of the students is also a consideration under a liability analysis. Students at the high school level, for example, would require a different type of supervision than an elementary school student. Special education students would require a different analysis as well.

The school injury attorneys at Walton Law Firm know that injuries on San Diego campuses can arise under a variety of circumstances. Here are a few:

Sexual and/or Physical Assault

Thankfully, physical assaults on campuses are not common, and sexual assaults even more rare. Assaults by fellow students are more common than by adults, but both can expose the school district to liability. Obviously, in both circumstances the individual committing the assault faces criminal liability, but when can the school be at fault for such a tragedy?

In general, schools must take reasonable preventative measures to protect students from an assault by a fellow student (or someone else) while on campus. Generally speaking, an assault by a fellow student needs to be foreseeable for the school district to be held responsible for the assault. When such an assault is foreseeable, then the law requires that the school take reasonable measures to prevent the assault.

For example, if a student is known to have violent propensities, then the school must warn each teacher of that violent history, and those teachers then must take reasonable preventive measures to protect students. If those preventative measures are taken, and a student (or teacher) is injured, then the school may not be liable.

Any liability analysis of for an assault on campus requires a thorough investigation. Once confirmed, our North County San Diego school injury lawyer will prosecute the case on behalf of the victim.

Property Injuries

Dangerous conditions on school premises can arise under a variety of circumstances, and may include hazards such as slippery floors, exposed wires, dangerous materials used in class, unsafe playground equipment, toxic materials on the campus, cracks/holes on concrete or playing fields, or other unsanitary conditions. A school district must construct and maintain its campuses in a manner that makes them free of any dangerous conditions in the manner the campus is used, and in the manner it could foreseeably be used.

Under California law, the district has a very strict duty to protect its students under most circumstances. If it doesn’t, and there is an injury or death, the district could be held liable by a qualified school injury lawyer in North County.

Sports Injuries

It is not uncommon for a student to be injured while playing a sport, whether interscholastic, intermural, or through the PE program. Whether or not a school district will be liable for such an injury depends on the nature of the activity, and the manner in which the injury occurred. As a general matter, students assume the risks that are inherent in the activity. For example, a football player who is injured while being tackled would not be able to sue the school for his injuries because, as a player, he assumed the risks that are inherent in tackle football.

A coach of a sport, however, has a duty not to increase the risks inherent in the activity. Using football again, if a practice were held in 105 degree heat and a coach made players run, but did not allow them to be adequately hydrated, it is likely that the coach and the school district would be liable for increasing the risk of harm if a player was injured.

Like all cases, a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding the injury must be completed before a determination if liability can be made, but any serious injury occurring on the field of play should be investigated.

Off Campus Injuries

Generally speaking, a school district has no duty to keep students safe while they are not on the school grounds. There are, however, some circumstances where the duty will be imposed.

  • When students are leaving school early
  • When students are waiting to be picked up
  • School sponsored activities
  • When students are being transported on a bus
  • Off-campus programs
When to speak to an attorney.

Anytime a student suffers a significant injury while on campus or partaking in a school-related activity it is a good idea to speak to an attorney. Attorney Randy Walton has a tremendous amount of experience in actions against school districts for physical injuries suffered by students. Not only has he represented students and their families in such actions for 20 years, he has also served as a governing board member of a school district for almost a decade. He understands these cases from both sides, and uses that knowledge to help his clients get the outcomes they deserve.

To speak to Randy directly, call (760) 571-5000, or fill out an online questionnaire.