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Injuries and Liabilities When Your School Lacks an Adequate Emergency Action Plan


Red pencil and Red check mark with Emergency Plan written next to itAn emergency action plan is your school’s first line of defense when a crisis hits the school. For example, a fire might break out in the building and a school cannot adequately evacuate because no emergency action plan exists. Or a sports contest will injure a child who cannot receive adequate treatment because of an inadequate or altogether missing emergency action plan. Insufficient emergency action plans (EAPs) might open the school up to liability when students are injured.

A Sample Sports Emergency Action Plan

Emergency action plans are vital for student-athletes. In 2013, 4 percent of those who died in sports-related deaths were younger than 17, and more than 425 catastrophic injuries occurred to student-athletes.

To develop an adequate EAP for athletics, school personnel should:

  • Develop their EAP in coordination with the local emergency medical services (EMS) and on-site medical personnel
  • Create an EAP specific to the venue and include maps or directions
  • Identify necessary onsite emergency equipment, such as defibrillators, medical kits, and splint kits
  • Include contact information for EMS
  • Address how to transport injured student-athletes from the sporting venue to medical facilities
  • Spell out how to document injuries
  • Identify the personnel responsible for providing medical care and sketch out their chain of command

School personnel should review the EAP at least once a year and update it if necessary. Furthermore, the coaching staff should hold a CPR refresher each year so that they can help in emergencies.

Serious Injuries

A student could sustain almost any injury when trying to flee from the school in an emergency. For example, it is not unusual for them to suffer:

  • Concussions
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts or scrapes
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Burns

Student-athletes also suffer serious injuries on the playing field, including:

  • Heatstroke
  • Head injuries
  • Asthma
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction)
  • Hyponatremia (low sodium level in blood)

Many injuries grow life-threatening without prompt medical attention. But even a victim who survives could face months of recovery time that can cause them to miss work or fall behind with their schooling. Particularly serious injuries can also cause emotional harm, such as depression or anxiety.

Holding the School Responsible

When a school lacks an adequate emergency action plan, you might hold it responsible for the injuries you or your child sustained. In particular, you might sue the school for negligence because it did not run the school with adequate care. Although school districts generally enjoy immunity from lawsuits, California law makes an exception for negligence.

Generally, schools owe students a duty to exercise reasonable care and to discharge that duty the school may need a detailed EAP. Failing to develop an EAP—or having an inadequate one—might constitute a breach of the school’s duty, which could expose the school to a lawsuit.

Contact a Los Angeles Premises Liability Attorney Today

Parents entrust schools to take care of their children, and schools should have to compensate you for your injuries when they betray that trust. At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, we have sued school districts for failing to keep everyone safe. Because of the special administrative rules for suing a school district, please call us as soon as possible for a free consultation at (866) 634-4525 or fill out our online contact form.