Premises Liability in Schools—Duty of Care

Premises Liability in Schools & Duty of Care

The school bells are ringing yet again in Chester County, PA, as they are throughout the state of PA. The first week of school brings both excitement and trepidation for parents, teachers, and students. 

What many parents and students do not realize is that much goes on behind the scenes before the doors even open. Preparations for curriculum and safety are addressed by the school boards and administrators with seminars on all possible issues before opening. 

Premises Liability is simply defined as the Duty of Care that must be followed without negligence. Proving negligence in Premises Liability Law is essential in winning a lawsuit. Any owner or, in the case of schools, administrators and school boards must ensure the safest possible surroundings for students. 

Schools cannot prevent all accidents from occurring, as students can be mischievous or unruly at times. After all, they are young. Other accidents that occur due to malfeasance on the part of students might not meet the requirements for a negligence lawsuit. 

If any child or teen is injured in a school or during after-school activities, the best way to determine if a negligence lawsuit exists is to consult with a seasoned negligence attorney such as Christian J. Hoey, ESQ. Much research is needed, and actions must be swift and sure on the part of any potential plaintiff. 

Examples of Premises Liability in Schools

Not all schools are alike, nor do they have the same type of facilities. These examples are just some common attributes that school boards and administrators must examine before school openings each year. 

·     Cleanliness of school premises 

A dirty floor can cause slip and fall injuries, and these are very common in schools. Children and teens tend to run, even when schools post signs stating “No Running.” Janitorial staff and maintenance should always be on hand to clean up any spills in hallways, classrooms, and, of course, cafeterias. 

Food services, even if subcontracted out, must also follow all cleanliness rules to ensure that food poisoning or even other types of bacteria are not transmitted. The Department of Health inspects nationwide, but the guidelines are set by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). 

·     Behavior monitoring safety

Schools are under a Duty of Care to ensure that no unwanted visitors enter the school building. Most use security keypads, cameras, and other security measures. Entry monitoring personnel and hallway monitoring must be in place, as well as cafeteria monitors. 

The monitoring not only includes keeping out unwanted visitors but also any scuffles or arguments that might ensue amongst students. Teachers and all school personnel are generally mandatorily trained to de-escalate any issues among students. Some schools provide First Aid Training, but it is not mandatory in some states or even school districts. 

·     Extracurricular activities safety 

All types of sports activities do carry a risk of injury, and coaches and assistants are under a lot of pressure to ensure injuries do not occur especially serious ones. Schools must ensure all playing fields and, of course, swimming pools, if they exist, are in compliance with all safety guidelines. 

Like with indoor school times, outside activities, even school trips, must meet a Duty of Care that is essentially higher. Compliance regulations exist in PA for all extracurricular activities with paperwork involved where parents give consent for medical treatment if necessary. 

All diseases must be disclosed, as well as medical conditions, and the CDC still regulates Covid transmissions when breakouts occur. This higher level of Duty of Care, when breached and injury or illness occurs, should have parents consulting an attorney immediately, such as HoeyLegal. 

·     School bus safety 

Needless to say, school bus safety is a priority for school boards and administrators. It is up to them to provide a contracted bus service or even pay and maintain their own drivers and vehicles. A CDL is a Commercial Driver’s License and must be obtained according to the guidelines of the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association). 

The FMCSA also requires passenger safety courses, and usually, CPR courses, for school bus drivers as children are not cargo and can have erratic behaviors. Incident management courses can be a requirement as well. 

While fatal school bus crashes are rare, these do occur, and any parent would need a great negligence attorney like Chris Hoey if this happens, as school boards and school administrators do carry insurance and have attorneys at their disposal. 

Conclusion– Premises Liability in Schools—Duty of Care

As can be assumed, a school, outside of a home, should be the safest place possible for a child or teen. However, this is not always the case, and although rare, negligent premises liabilities and lack of duty of care do occur. 

Sometimes injuries are severe, and Christian J. Hoey, ESQ of Paoli, PA, should be called for a consultation. There are many mitigating and aggravating circumstances in these types of cases, and determining what/where/when is important in building a possible case. Intent also counts and cannot be dismissed. 

Any child or teen deserves a safe environment in a school, and all questions concerning lack of duty of care are subject to a free evaluation by Hoey Legal. All phone calls are also welcome: 1-800-G0-HOEY1 or 610-647-5151. Happy school year! 

Distracted Driving

Pennsylvania defines distracted driving as “an activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Drivers have to focus on driving, so they can react to the information on the road, such as road conditions, hazards and other drivers. Distracted drivers do not react appropriately and thus put others at risk for severe injury or death. Examples of distractions, besides using cell phones and texting, include drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, adjusting climate controls, adjusting seats, combing hair, putting on make-up, daydreaming, reaching for dropped items, engaging in heavy conversations, and focusing on events outside of the car.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence typically refers to alcohol use, but drug use can also impair drivers and cause severe car accidents.  In either situation, enjoying cocktails at happy hour, celebrating with drugs or alcohol, drinking too much wine for dinner and unwinding after a long week at work results in too many motorists driving under the influence.  Controlled substances impact each person differently, making it common for someone to misjudge his or her level of impairment.  These poor judgments can lead to severe and sometimes fatal car accidents.

Driver Fatigue

Driving without enough sleep is commonplace for many in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the nation. Truck drivers, shift workers, and those with sleep disorders are most vulnerable to causing an accident because they are drowsy or fatigued. Not having enough rest slows down reaction time and impairs the senses. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that eighteen (18) hours without sleep impairs a driver to the same extent as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration after consuming alcohol.


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that one-third of all car accidents involve speeding. Drivers who rush, run late, or simply lack patience may choose to speed when they get behind the wheel. Speeding makes it more likely that a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle and makes it more difficult to react to road hazards and other vehicles. Speeding also increases the impact of a car accident and makes it far less likely that a negligent driver may maintain control of his vehicle sufficient to prevent a collision. High speed car accidents make it far more likely that those involved will suffer severe injuries or death.


At HoeyLegal, we know from our litigation experience that tractor-trailer drivers often operate at least one cellular phone which is in use at, during, or immediately prior to a tractor-trailer accident. Additionally, most tractor-trailers are equipped with data recorders which capture, in real-time, important vehicle operation events including speed, hard braking and other evasive maneuvers taken by the operator and the tractor-trailer.  It is imperative that this evidence be obtained before it is destroyed.  At HoeyLegal, our trial attorneys will obtain any necessary court order to preserve this evidence for trial.


Oftentimes, there are several defendants responsible for the tractor-trailer accident. In most cases, at least two defendants are responsible for the ownership and operation of the tractor-trailer.  There may be additional defendants responsible for the hiring and retention of the tractor-trailer driver.  At HoeyLegal, our investigators will promptly identify the responsible defendants and immediately request the preservation of all evidence related to the hiring and retention of the driver, inspection of the vehicles and the supervision and drug/alcohol testing of the vehicle operator.


Our accident investigators include mechanics who will immediately respond to the accident site and the location where the truck has been impounded in order to photograph the truck and conduct necessary mechanical inspections of the vehicle. In the event that a court order is necessary to examine and inspect the trucks, HoeyLegal Attorneys will promptly file the necessary motions to enable the HoeyLegal mechanics and inspectors to conduct a prompt evaluation of the mechanical function of the at-fault tractor-trailer


Our expert accident investigators include former Pennsylvania State Police accident investigators and nationally recognized engineers who will carefully photograph the accident scene and conduct all necessary measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, displacement of debris and thoroughly examine the accident site to preserve all evidence for the time of trial.


Our investigators will promptly interview and record all witnesses that observed the accident and collect all biographical information from the witnesses so they will available to testify on your behalf at trial.

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