Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

I am here to help you.

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Child Plaintiffs and School Negligence

Posted Friday, July 20, 2018 by Chris Thayer

Three years ago, a student at Broad View Elementary School in Island County fell off a playground “stepping pod” and landed head-first on a “sharp-edged metal balance beam,” according to a lawsuit recently filed by the student’s parents. The parents claim that their son was unconscious for at least 30 minutes and suffered traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures, vision problems and other various injuries.

They sued Oak Harbor School District, arguing that the district failed to provide “a reasonable safe zone” between the playground equipment and that school personnel did not “exercise ordinary and reasonable care” in supervising the students. They are seeking an unspecified amount of damages in the personal injury lawsuit.

*Suing on Behalf of a Minor Child in Washington*Minors are not allowed to file lawsuits in Washington. Instead, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (usually the parents) to sue on the child’s behalf.

The general deadline (statute of limitations) for filing a personal injury lawsuit is three years from the date of the accident, but the rules are different when the injured plaintiff is a child. In those cases, the three-year filing period does not begin running until the child turns 18 years old. This gives minors more litigation options. Either a guardian ad litem can sue on the child’s behalf, or the child can wait and sue after his or her 18th birthday.

It is generally advisable to file a personal injury lawsuit as soon after the accident as possible. Delaying litigation for too long can make it harder to prove your case. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that crucial evidence gets lost or witnesses’ memories fade.

Also keep in mind that Washington is a comparative fault state, which means that any damages awarded will be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault (if any). This rule applies to child plaintiffs as well. State law does not cap the amount of damages that plaintiffs can receive. This includes compensation for easily quantifiable damages like medical expenses and subjective noneconomic damages like pain and suffering.

*Suing a School District for Negligence*A school districts owes a duty to students “to employ reasonable care and to anticipate reasonably foreseeable dangers so as to take precautions for protecting children in its custody from dangers,” according to the Washington Supreme Court. That means parents can hold schools liable for improper supervision while students are:

In the Oak Harbor case, the school was arguably responsible for the student’s well-being while he played on the playground.

*Contact Us Today*Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation if your child was injured because of a school’s or school district’s negligence. We will help recover compensation for your child’s injuries, including medical expenses.