Here are four steps to take after a school accident. The response of both the institution and its staff’s are crucial in reducing legal liability and setting the tone for any impending discussion about resolving the matter. The following steps provide a framework schools should consider when responding to an accident on school grounds.
An accident affecting a student, guest or staff, at its heart, involves an injury to a person; as such, the most important consideration is to respond in a kind and caring fashion. In this situation, helping the injured party and eliminating potential harm to others should be the most important concern. At the same time, responding parties should avoid discussing the conditions which caused the accident with the injured party (or anyone else for that matter);instead, focus should be directed on providing assistance and collecting information.
When an accident occurs, prepare an incident report as soon as possible collecting statements from the injured party and any witnesses. The report should include the condition that caused the accident, precautionary measures taken, and the school’s response, all of which are facts that are crucial to the disposition of an accident claim. Documenting this information in a concise and clear manner will provide a great deal of assistance to a school’s risk team and insurer in the event a claim is filed.
Communicate with Your Insurer and Risk Team
Immediately after an accident occurs, the school’s in-house risk management team and the school’s insurer should be apprised of the situation. Armed with information regarding a potential liability issue, the risk team and insurer can prepare to take measures to avoid a claim or defend against a claim if it is filed.
Do Not Let Gossip Increase Your Risk
When an accident occurs, it is likely not going to be a secret. There will be a number of people who witnessed the incident and even more who will become aware of it after the fact. Inform staff that the incident should only be discussed with administrators or the risk team; gossip about an incident only leads to confusion and potentially increasing the risk of legal liability. Make sure you educate all key staff members about the role they play in this process so that all individuals are prepared to handle accidents on school property in Arizona.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Four Steps to Take After a School Accident, or other Education Law matters, please feel free to contact Erin H. Walz at 480.461.5379, log on to www.udallshumway.com or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.