School District Liability for Arbuckle Burn Victim


School District Liability for Arbuckle Burn Victim

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyer. Recent news of a terrible welding accident that occurred at Pierce High School in Arbuckle on Monday, December 13, 2016, has raised the sensitive issue of school district liability for personal injuries sustained by children entrusted into their care.

Duty of Care Owed to Students

As it stands to date, California school districts are held to the same standard of employment liability as any other private business. In determining the duty schools have to ensure that their students are in a safe environment, a matter of consideration that is of primary importance is simply the fact that children are by their very nature less mature than adults. That is why supervision of children in an academic environment is paramount to their safety. There are several important factors to consider in terms of determining liability and negligence on behalf of the school district in the recent tragic accident in Arbuckle. In this extremely unfortunate situation, a student caught on fire while handling a welding iron in a classroom situation, sustaining burns over seventy percent of his body. To begin with, news sources report that the victim of this accident was wearing pajamas at the time the welding injury occurred. The first question that comes to mind in terms of liability is who was the instructor responsible of overseeing students in the welding class when this horrific burn injury occurred? Why did that instructor allow the student to conduct such a dangerous operation while wearing inappropriate and highly flammable attire?

Watch Youtube Video – Spark From Welding Torch Ignites Student’s Pajamas Ablaze

According to news sources, a spark from the welding torch ignited the boy’s pajamas. His response to the fire accident was to run out of the classroom and into the hall, which naturally fanned the flames, fueling the fire and adding to his burn injuries until another teacher outside of the classroom tackled him to smother the flames. The teacher also sustained severe burns as a result of taking courageous action. Why wasn’t the student properly trained in how to protect himself in the event that his clothes caught on fire while welding? Why wasn’t the teacher responsible for supervising the boy able to stop him from running out of the room to prevent exacerbating the fire while also preventing injuries to the student.

Duty to Monitor Welding Equipment for Safety

Another important factor to consider in terms of school district liability in the Arbuckle situation is how well the school was monitoring the safety of its equipment. Was the welding iron functioning properly? Are the welding irons used in school classroom situations regularly checked and maintained for safety? For students to be safe in situations where they handle potentially dangerous equipment, they need to be trained in how to use tools and machinery properly and required to wear appropriate attire to ensure their safety.

Are school districts liable for the personal injuries of students under their care?

Since children are mandated to attend school by law, it is essential to hold school districts and their employees accountable for creating and maintaining safe environments for children to learn in. This means that the school is responsible from the moment the children leave their front door, to the moment they return home. Liability issues pertaining to school districts when it comes to personal injuries that occur while students are under their care is an issue of great importance to everyone, especially our children. Not only is it important as a matter of respecting the rights of children, but also as a matter of respecting the trust that parents put into teachers and school districts, in protecting their children from any dangers that are reasonably foreseeable.  Essentially, a society that values education to such a degree that it mandates education through high school for all its citizens is responsible for making sure that children entrusted into a school’s care are properly supervised.

Negligent Supervision of Arbuckle Student?

Our education system has a duty to protect children while they are at school or participating in school related activities. Moreover, teachers have an inherent responsibility to protect the students entrusted into their care due to the nature of the special relationship between students and teachers defined by law. A teacher is like a temporary surrogate parent in many ways. During the hours of the day that children are under their supervision, it is the teacher’s job not only to educate students, but also to act as a temporary guardian on behalf of the children they are teaching, making sure that childrens’ rights to a safe environment are honored and upheld consistently, day in, day out.

Historically, the context for school liability for personal injuries and other damages suffered by children while under the supervision of a teacher or another school employee has been a progression from common law to civil rights.

Under the old common law, which was heavily influenced by the old monarchal paradigm protecting the rights of Kings, expedience ruling in favor of the establishment made school district liability a relatively moot point. Under the old system of common law, it was not permissible to sue government entities. Hence, the history of school liability has been a gradual moving away from the old system of common law which protected government entities under the premise that suing the government would ultimately cost taxpayers more of their own money by charging the people not only for the infrastructure of government, but also making them essentially pay and atone for its “wrongs.” But that argument has proven to be invalid when viewed from a wider context. If school districts are held accountable for their negligence in failing to protect students from foreseeable harm, there will be less accidents causing catastrophic injuries, because school employees will be required to be more vigilant when their indiscretions and failures have clear legal ramifications.

Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyer. If you or a loved one has suffered a severe burn injury, please call me at (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly advice. Or, you can call me toll-free at (800) 404-5400. When you call, we will go over the details of your injury case and see how best to proceed. It is free to call and talk to me and there is no obligation to you.

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