If my child gets hurt on a field trip, can I recover for their medical bills? | Allen and Allen

If my child gets hurt on a field trip, can I recover for their medical bills?

  • September 1, 2022
  • Blog

In Virginia, we enjoy a wealth of history and are close to many national landmarks, from Petersburg to Washington, D.C. Field trips are an exciting way to teach our children about history and culture, and while we hope that they will always be safe, accidents do happen.

kids on a field trip

In Virginia public schools, teachers may be immune from suits. When considering whether a public school teacher may be sued, the Supreme Court looks at the facts and circumstances of each case.

The factors to be considered include:

  1. the nature of the function the employee performs;
  2. the extent of the governmental entity’s interest and involvement in the function;
  3. the degree of control and direction exercised by the governmental entity over the employee;
  4. whether the alleged wrongful act involved the exercise of judgment and discretion.”

When the teacher or school is exercising judgment and discretion, they are likely immune from simple negligence. But, the teacher may be sued for gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts that caused an injury. This may also change if it’s a city public school as opposed to a county public school because counties have more immunity than cities do.

If the student attends a private school, then there shouldn’t be any issue suing the teacher and school.

kids boarding a school bus

What if your child were taken on a trip up I-95 to Washington, D.C., and got hurt?

D.C. has different laws than Virginia, but your child is still protected. The Virginia school may still have immunity. But the good news is that D.C. law protects children who are injured on school trips to the nation’s capital.

School boards, teachers, and chaperones owe a duty to exercise reasonable and ordinary care for the protection of the pupils to whom they provide education. This includes a duty to guard against foreseeable harm.  It is foreseeable that a student on a field trip could get hurt in many ways, including being struck by a motor vehicle. This duty to properly supervise students extends to out-of-state schools that bring their pupils on field trips to D.C.

Teachers and chaperones have to use “such care as an ordinary parent would observe in comparable circumstances.” The standard is heightened on a field trip because there are many more ways that a child can get injured, as they aren’t sitting in a classroom. D.C. also recognizes that children have big imaginations and act impulsively, so they may not have the maturity or judgment to make good decisions. Hence, proper supervision is important.

If your child was injured on a field trip, our experienced attorneys look forward to hearing the details of your unique situation. Call Allen & Allen today, at 866-388-1307.