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My daughter was on a PA school playground and broke her arm after she fell off the monkey bars. The school was understaffed that day. Can I sue the school?

 

A:

Yes, you may sue the school if there was an insufficient number of teachers watching your daughter's class on the day of her accident.  However, you may only sue private schools in Pennsylvania.  Public schools are subject to tort immunity, and there are limited circumstances when public schools may be sued.

In Pennsylvania, the law requires a certain ratio of teachers to children at schools depending on the children's age.  If a child is a young toddler, there should be 1 teacher watching 5 children.  Therefore, if there are 10 kids in the class, then there should be 2 teachers with the kids.  If a child is in preschool, then Pennsylvania law requires 1 teacher for every 10 children.  If there are 20 kids in the class, then there should be 2 teachers supervising the kids.

Related: PA & NJ Recreational Accidents - Playground Accidents

If your daughter is in preschool, then the ratio of teacher to students is 1:10.  Let's assume your daughter's class has 20 kids in it, then there should be 2 teachers watching the kids in her class at school. 

If one of the teachers was not present on the playground when your daughter's accident happened, the school may be liable for her fall.  There are many reasons why the school may be liable; therefore, I need to know the specific facts and details about your daughter's fall.

I am going to provide a hypothetical situation where a school may be found liable for your daughter's fall. 

Hypothetical

The school has 2 sets of monkey bars, one is made for older children aged 5 and up and the other one is made for 3 year olds.  The difference between the monkey bars is that the one made for older children is much higher from the ground than the monkey bars made for 3 year olds.  Your daughter is 3, and she usually goes on the monkey bars made for her age.  One of the 2 teachers often watches to see if children are playing on age appropriate play structures. 

On the day that your daughter fell, this teacher was inside the school for some reason.  The other teacher was diffusing an argument between 2 other classmates.  Your daughter went on the 5 year old monkey bars and fell.  Because the monkey bars were so much higher, she landed on her arm and broke it.

If the teacher inside the school was outside like she should have been, it can be argued that your daughter would not have broken her arm because the teacher would not have allow her to go on the 5 year old monkey bars.  In this case, the school may be held liable because of inadequate supervision due to an insufficient number of teachers on the playground.

There is also another possible party that may be liable for your daughter's fall, in addition to the school.  The company that made the monkey bars may also be liable if there was some defect in the monkey bars that led to your daughter's fall.  However, an inspection of the monkey bars is necessary to determine whether a defect in the monkey bars also contributed to your daughter's fall.

Related: Pennsylvania Dangerous Products Law & Defective Product Claims

Feel free to give me a call to discuss your daughter's accident.  As you can see from my answer, we need to discuss the details of your daughter's accident to properly assess her case.  I always offer FREE initial consultations.  877.944.8396


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