What are my rights if I am a teacher and fell at school on an icy sidewalk badly injuring myself?

UPDATED: Feb 3, 2014

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What are my rights if I am a teacher and fell at school on an icy sidewalk badly injuring myself?

This happened last year. I broke both leg bones above my ankle and my ankle itself. I had surgery that day where they placed 2 metal plates, 9 screws and a pin to repair the breaks. About 2 months ago, I had another surgery to take all the metal out due to my body rejecting the metal. The trouble still continues today. I have been on pain meds (plus other meds) during this time. My school has paid the medical bills, excluding meds. Can I sue the school because now I am considered permanently disabled enough to get a handicap placard and can only work 4 hrs per day due to the pain?

Asked on February 3, 2014 under Personal Injury, Arkansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The school would potentially be liable only if it had been negligent, or unreasonably careless, in de-icing a sidewalk for it was legally resonsible. So first, this sidewalk must have been one that within the school's control and which it was expected to clear. Second, they must have had either actual knowledge of the icy condition (e.g. someone must have reported it) or be chargeable as having reasonably have known that there would be ice (e.g. there had been freezing rain or an ice storm, so a reasonable person would assume ice) and also an opportunity to act (in order words, if the storm were still ongoing and/or the sidewalk had iced up shortly before you fell, they would not be responsible, since they would not have had a reasonable opportunity to take action). Third, if they took reasonable action, that's all they had to do--they are not required to perfectly eliminate all hazards. So, say that a janitor had spread salt or other ice-melting compound on the sidwalk, and it had not fully finished working when you fell--they would not be liable, since they had done what they were expected to do.

On the other hand, if they did fail to take reasonable care (e.g. didn't try to de-ice a sidewalk they knew or should have known was icy and dangerous), then yes, they may be liable to you for unpaid medical costs, past and future; loss of income/earning potential; and pain and suffering.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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