Back-to-School Safety in Southwest Florida

It’s that time of year again when students head back to class. Whether attending Florida Gulf Coast University, another institute of higher learning, or heading to a private school or one of the more than 200 schools operated by the Lee, Collier or Charlotte county school districts, there are a number of things you can do to stay safe.

Our personal injury lawyers at Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys of the Injured, salute all of the men and women who work in education, whether in the classroom, school administration, or the hundreds of coaches, custodians, maintenance workers or support staff. Your work and commitment to our youth is always to be commended.

But our primary focus is always on the health and safety of our children and their families.

Off-Campus Injury Risks

It’s critical to understand that the risks begin long before you reach school. In fact, statistics show most school-related injuries occur off campus. schoolbus3-300x225

  • Shopping: While perhaps not thought of as a school-related injury, your risks could well begin at the mall. From parking lot accidents, to fall injuries, to the presence of predators in locations where large numbers of teenagers gather, have a plan to keep your teenager safe while out with parents or friends.
  • School bus injuries: Ninety percent of students use the school bus to get to and from many local area schools. The vast majority of school bus accidents occur while a student is waiting on a bus or boarding or getting off the bus. Several high-profile accidents last year seriously injured or killed students waiting at local bus stops. The walk to and from the bus is also dangerous. Take the time to walk your child’s route, review bus stop safety, and share any concerns you may have with their school administration and/or school district.
  • Transportation injuries: While riding the bus is not without risk, statistics show riding with friends is even more dangerous. Teenagers are more likely to get into a serious or fatal collision than any other age group. And the risks increase exponentially with each teen passenger in the vehicle.
  • Extracurricular Activities: A substantial percentage of injuries occur while children are attending a school event, whether at a sporting venue, on a field trip, or doing research for a school project. Again, being proactive means having a plan to help keep your teenager safe.

On-Campus School Injuries

Liability for injuries at school is often more clear cut than when an injury occurs off campus. As a result, most schools have done considerable work to mitigate these risks. However, a significant number of students are still injured each year in foreseeable, preventable, incidents:

  • Falls: Whether in the parking lot, at a sporting venue, or in a hallway, cafeteria, or staircase, the same contributing factors result in school falls that contribute to those that occur at local businesses. Inadequate lighting, uneven walking surfaces, loose railings, inadequate maintenance, and overcrowding are all common contributors to fall injuries.
  • Physical assault: School resource officers (sheriff’s deputies), and teacher training goes a long way toward stopping assaults. But, when they do occur, serious injury may result.
  • Sexual assault: Teachers pass rigorous background checks. And most work in the profession because they love children. However, predators will often be drawn to jobs involving children and too many cases of school employers exploiting children continue to occur.
  • Sporting injuries: Extra curricular activities are just that: Extra. Ultra competitive coaches, teammates or opponents, can result in unnecessary injury during what should be an otherwise fun, after-school activity. So too can faulty equipment and poorly matched competitors.
  • Weather: The Lee County School District and a number of other local districts have invested in lightning warning devices after several high-profile deaths. It’s not unusual for schools to make students remain after school until South Florida’s afternoon thunderstorms have passed. But such precautions are not foolproof. Heat stroke during athletic competitions is another weather risk of which districts must remain aware.

Not all injuries are avoidable. But when a school-related injury does occur, our school injury attorneys encourage you to protect your rights by reaching out to an experienced law firm as soon as possible. In many cases, the impact to a child will not be long-lasting, or permanent, and the school district will do the right thing. But until all of the facts, circumstances and consequences are known, having veteran legal help is the best thing you can do to protect your child and your family.

If you or a loved one is injured, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

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