QLD Son Injured at School - Personal Injury Compensation?

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20 August 2014
My son was injured at school when in year 8, he is now completing year 12. Apparently he was running on a concrete pathway and tripped and fell. We were called to the hospital as he was in the emergency ward. The doctor was concerned that they may have to relieve the pressure on his brain. As it turned out this wasn't required.

After getting over the initial shock of seeing my son in such a state and calming my daughter, who had accompanied him to the hospital I realised there was no skin off his body what so ever. I asked the question, if he was running and tripped, surely there'd be skin off him from hitting the ground, wouldn't there. I asked the doctor this question to which he replied that if my son had lost conciseness before hitting the ground he wouldn't have put his hands out to protect his fall so there would be no skin off his hands. Having said this the only visible signs that there was anything wrong with my son were the cords and wires hanging off him from the emergency ward, a vomit bag, him being unconscious.

As a result he spent 3-4 days in the hospital and lost his peripheral-vision in his right eye. We have been told this will never return...it has already had an affect on his future as he was wanting to join the RAAF as a pilot! My son has no recollection of the events as his subconsciousness has blocked this out.

We did ask more questions and eventually a young man came forward and admitted he had pushed my son. the assumption I have is that he was hit.... Is there any legal track we can take for Personal Injury compensation for my son due to this injury limiting his future endeavors?

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi Shano61,

Your son has a possible action in the tort of negligence against the school and may be able to claim compensation for personal injuries. Here is a similar LawAnswers thread that talks about school liability for injuries sustained on school grounds: 'Compensation for Son Injured in School Fight'. However, it would be difficult to get damages for lost opportunities (eg. not able to be a RAAF pilot), particularly given the remoteness of such loss.

Given that the events happened a few years ago, you should be weary of time limitations for bringing such actions. The Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (Qld) allows 3 years for actions, from the date of the event, in relation to personal injury: Section 11. However, I assume your son was under 18 years old at the time of the event. In that case, your son has 3 years from when he turns 18 to sue the school for personal injury: Section 29.


Well-Known Member
31 October 2014
Hello Shano61,

I'm really sorry to hear about what happened to your son. Sarah has given some really good information concerning your issue. To help a little more, I discussed this issue with my mentor and there are a lot of additional issues that he said I needed to know about the situation.

However, to quickly summarize what we discussed:

Technically, the child that caused the injury, whether intentionally or negligently, would be held liable. The difficulty there is that, whilst your son’s claim may succeed against that child, the offending student would normally have no money. So, your son might win his case but end up getting no money out of it.

So, what of the school’s liability then?

A school and teachers generally have a very high duty to ensure that they take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their students. If there is something that could have been avoided by the exercise of reasonable care, then the school will be held liable.

In many cases, however, there is little that the teachers or school could have done. Teachers can’t be everywhere at once and students are good at hiding things from their teachers or doing things only when the teacher is not looking.

In your son’s case, if the student who pushed your son was being aggressive and the school knew about it, or should have known about it, and had an opportunity to intervene but unreasonably failed to do, then the school is likely to be held liable for your son’s injuries. If, however, the students were being reasonably supervised and the incident was unexpected or happened so quickly that there was nothing the supervising teacher could have done (because he or she was not close enough to your son at the time, for instance), then the school will not be held liable for your son’s injuries.

An injury lawyer would want to take more details from you before providing you with any definitive advice in that regard.

If your son does have a case then he would need to serve a Form 1 Notice of Claim under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act.

I hope that this little bit helps. Take care and good luck.