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Polk County School District Officials Expect More Lawsuits due to Damages Cap Increase

Posted on August 12, 2011

According to an article in The Ledger, Polk County schools expect to see an increase in the filing of lawsuits because a cap on lawsuit damages will be raised by law on October 1. The cap on damage awards was $100,000 and will increase to $200,000. The county school district employs more people than any other entity in Polk County with 13,000 employees overseeing 93,000 students.

What kinds of lawsuits are they bracing against? Anything from a fender bender with a school bus, a slip and fall, also known as premises liability, an auto accident on school property, or an injury during physical education class. The district tells the paper about 25 lawsuits are filed every year and settlements come out of the general fund which is generated from property taxes.

The school district claims that the $740,500 paid out in 2010 to settle individual claims could have been better spent on the classroom. At the same time the district is receiving $13.5 million less from the general fund in 2011 than in the previous year. The district is self-insured and pays its own claims. Students are insured through School Insurance of Florida. With money tight the school district says it will try to minimize litigation costs. That is something that a parent would hope would be done regardless.

Additional training on how to keep schools safe will be conducted such as cleaning up any water that is spilled outside of a vending machine. Inflatable bouncing houses will no longer be allowed on school property and trips by school personnel to the bank to make deposits will be replaced by armored vehicles to lessen the possibility of an accident while traveling between the school and the bank.

Source: http://www.theledger.com/article/20110807/NEWS/110809529?Title=School-Officials-Expect-Increase-in-Lawsuits