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Accidentally drove into school gates

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by wishy2206, Sep 22, 2019.

  1. wishy2206

    wishy2206 New commenter

    I accidentally scraped the side of my car on our new school gates (the car park is a nightmare with parents, kids and other vehicles coming out of a tight space at 3:15). The gates lost their paint down to the metal. The Head has said she is getting a quote from the people who installed them next week. She will try to see if they will do it for free but otherwise I must pay. She knows it was an accident.

    Do I have to pay? Surely schools have accidental damage cover. I am an LSA and don't earn very much. I wasn't going to repair the damage to my car (dented in places) as I don't really want to have to pay for the excess and then my insurance premium posibbly increasing. It is not very serious damage, and it just needs painting and perhaps priming.

    Anyone know what the position on this would be, please? I would like knowledge of similar cases and policies rather than moral thoughts. I just want to know the position.

    Thank you!
  2. jenny_talwarts

    jenny_talwarts New commenter

    Are you serious?

    Of course you have to pay, if payment is required! The gates didn't leap out on you on their own!
    nomad, sooooexcited, bonxie and 7 others like this.
  3. flyingcircusfreak

    flyingcircusfreak New commenter

    Best thing is to talk to your insurers.

    pepper5, Pomza, FrankWolley and 3 others like this.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Offer to do the priming/painting?
  5. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    You’ll need to organise it to be put good. Whether that’s doing it yourself, going through insurance or paying up front.

    Like with any insurance, there’s an excess. Schools are not immune. They might agree to you paying their excess if they claim, but like with your policy, their premium might go up.

    The position is you’re responsible as you caused the damage.
    grumpydogwoman and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Actually I'd say it depends, because of the circumstance.
    The HT has a duty to ensure the safe exit of all parties from the school grounds at finish time. For this reason,lots of schools ban parental cars even entering school grounds at pick up time-there's simply too much scope for scrapes, or something even more serious.
    You did loosely describe this sort of palaver, but you didn't say why you hit the gates. Did you suddenly swerve to avoid somebody? Were any staff on duty who saw this? If,say,a child had suddenly stepped in front of your car when exiting the grounds,of course you'd swerve into the gate rather than into the child.
    The HT sounds as if they are being a bit circumspect in citing you as responsible, by contacting the gate installers (who does that?!), and I wondered if they somehow felt that the site requires more supervision or restricted access at the end of the school day ie it is actually their fault, if they are already aware that something needs to be done to relieve the flow. They might even have awareness of a string of other similar incidents that you don't know about.
    Presumably you've already spoken to the HT about what/how it happened, and I do think that it depends on why you had to hit the gate. State your case if you felt you had no choice,not just that it was an accident, but also that if the congestion were relieved on site, such things would not happen. That's really important.
    You might need to make it good materially, but equally it needs to be logged as symptomatic of too much going on in a small space-next time it could be a person who is hit.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You drove into a stationary gate, hard enough to scrape the paint down to the metal and denting and scraping your car in the process. On what grounds can you try and get out of paying, or getting your insurers to talk to their insurers to sort it out?

    If it was desperately busy, you should have been going so incredibly slowly you'd not have caused any damage.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Moral thoughts?

    Ok, the classroom is nicely painted and you barge in there with a stack of equipment and scratch it. You didn't pay enough care. The vernacular goes like this: suck it up.

    And none of:
    It's too hard
    It's too narrow
    I don't like those big cars the parents have
    Parents are a nuisance
    I didn't mean to (nor did the yr5 "mean" to kick the yr2 but it just kinda happened)
    But it's nothing really (yeah, that yr2 had a really little bruise and why make such a fuss!)

    This: I was a twit, I'm sorry, I'm also boracic, I'm paying naturally but is there any way we can limit the expense or I'm going to be living on 10p baked beans for six months
  9. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Why are cars and parents/pupils using the same gates at the same time? Sounds an H & S oversight to me...I worked in several schools where entrances for cars & pupils, or pupils/parents & staff were separated (either by using different entrances OR by time...)

    OP should speak to their insurers and their Union, IMHO.
  10. Sundaytrekker

    Sundaytrekker Star commenter

    I agree with all of the above that you were driving your car and were responsible whether through your insurance or otherwise. However, as an ex headteacher, I’m also thinking about the times a member of staff dropped a laptop or iPad and damaged it, a broken window or piece of school equipment. They didn’t pay. The school had to. Is the difference that they were using these things as part of their job rather than travelling to or from their job?
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Well yes. I always thought that as long as staff cars are on school premises, they are insured by the school. Even though most schools that staff leave their cars there at own risk (eg from egging), if there were to be, say, a huge fire and the car park was affected, then school insurance covers it. it is immaterial whether the car is being driven or not-it is not a public highway.
    Maybe I have the above completely wrong, and need to be put right, but additionally, a couple of times in my career I have had to ask to leave my car on the premises over night, once because of breakdown, another time I hurt my back and got a taxi home. I was told "fine" but it would not be insured whatsoever,and I had to sign an agreement.
    So I do not think it is as clear cut as "you did it, you pay for it" in the way many posters indicate.
    And I'm not sure "in the car park" is actually on the way to or from work-you could be driving your car in the car park simply to find a better spot. Or allow a coach trip through, whatever. I'd say outside the gates, yes, but within school grounds, no.
    nomad and annascience2012 like this.
  12. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    You must have been in quite a hurry.

    Remember, at 3pm on a Friday it's always sensible to allow the gates to open first, before making your break for the weekend.
  13. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    You may find your union gives you insurance cover for your belongings (including car) on school premises.
  14. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    I agree but having said that my last school only had the one gate. At home time the kids left through it but also taxis and a minibus picking up the SEN kids. Then the TA's would also leave. I suggested to the HT that the TA's be asked (like the teachers) not to leave until 10-15 minutes after the bell. His response was that as the TA's were hourly paid their hours finished at the bell and the school could not insist they stayed on the premises. But in esponse to the OP, you hit the gate and damaged it so you are liable to cover any costs incurred.
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Well, whether the traffic flow is competently managed is quite another matter. Sounds like Picadilly Circus. Check with the union. Yep.

    On another note? The term "accident" when used in the context of a motor-vehicle. An accident is where .... Actually accidents are really rare. Most events are momentary carelessness or poor judgement.

    I know what you mean. It wasn't intentional. You didn't decide to scrape off some paint. But you were either impatient to get out and misjudged it or you're not great in tight spaces. So you wish you hadn't and you never meant to but .....your driving/decision-making isn't quite on the money. Not that day anyway.

    ROSIEGIRL Lead commenter

    Get a quote from a friendly local painter and offer that, rather than going to the manufacturers? Worth a try ...?
    cazzmusic1, TCSC47 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  17. rgh18

    rgh18 New commenter

    Yep. It's an open and shut case.
    Lara mfl 05 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  18. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Totally agree that TAs cannot be required to stay longer unless they are paid for that time. However, depending on the local parking situation, it might not be unreasonable to have an embargo on cars (other than the taxis/minibus) using the gate for the 15 minutes immediately after the end of the day, with anyone needing to make a quick get-away parking a little further away. (Obviously if there is no free parking locally, this might not be possible.) Who knows, it might encourage those who live nearer to walk...
    Lara mfl 05 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  19. NQT08

    NQT08 Occasional commenter

    Chuck the caretaker £20 and get him to sort it for you
    cazzmusic1, nomad, tall tales and 7 others like this.
  20. Admin Princess

    Admin Princess Occasional commenter

    Those that have suggested getting a local bloke/the caretaker to put it right...local bloke would, if working for us, have to have a minimum £5 million public liability insurance. It's probable that a gate of this type is galvanised/powder coated - it's not really a case of slapping a bit of Dulux on!

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