Understanding children’s food allergies and premises liability

Food allergies are a legitimate concern for many parents of school-age children. These parents often have to navigate the daily minefield posed by peanut or gluten-based food items that are often available to their children at school.

Premises liability is a legal theory that stands for the proposition that property owners owe a duty of care to individuals who are lawfully allowed to be on their property. Without getting too technical, the basic concept of premises liability also extends to schools. Parents expect that their children’s schools will adopt reasonable standards of care to protect their children from foreseeable harm.

In one of our previous web site blog posts, we mentioned how a Broward County, Florida, family sued that county’s school district back in 2011 based on premises liability claims. In that lawsuit, the family sued the district for not providing adequate protection for their child at a middle school. That case involved one student severely injuring another during a physical attack. Although the circumstances are different, the fact remains that food allergies, just like students fighting, is a foreseeable harm that schools should recognize and take reasonable measures to prevent.

Protecting your child from food allergies at school begins with you. Typically, this starts with obtaining a letter from your child’s health care provider regarding the allergy. In most cases, a pediatrician or allergist will specify your child’s particular allergies and his or her potential reactions.

Once you obtain the proper documentation, it is important that you notify the school so that they can implement some form of contingency plan should your child accidentally consume an allergen. These may include an individualized health care plan or in some cases a “section 504 plan”. The 504 plan is typically used in situations where the roles of classroom teachers, substitutes, playground monitors and other supervisors are outlined.

Based in Miami, our law firm has over 50 combined years of legal experience in providing legal services for clients throughout the greater Miami-Dade area and other parts of South Florida. We can help you to understand the obligations of your child’s school or review whether their plan was sufficient to have prevented their injuries. There is no fee for an initial consultation regarding your case.