School Districts have a legal duty to provide a safe environment for students and protect them in various circumstances. Schools also must provide teachers and staff with a safe workplace.
As Parents, we assume that when we send our kids to school, they will be kept safe throughout the day, just as we keep our children safe if they were at home. We do not expect an accident or wrongful act to occur at school. We do not expect our children to be injured due to the carelessness of the school.
Schools have a duty to provide a safe environment for our students and protect them on school property and when transporting them to and from school. School grounds must be free from dangerous conditions. When a school fails to keep our child safe due to negligence, the school can be held accountable in court and be required to pay compensation for our child’s injuries. When a school, a teacher, or a staff member causes injury due to negligence, call Asta Law for a free consultation.
When the school is a public school, a liability lawsuit against the school will fall under Municipal Liability, and the rules regarding municipal liability apply. These claims often have special laws and regulations that affect the plaintiff’s rights and even in what court a claim must be brought. A Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days, and a lawsuit must be filed within a year and ninety days. Be aware of these short deadlines and consult an attorney immediately if you believe your child was injured at school due to the school’s carelessness.
Of course, the injuries mentioned above are not the only ways children may be harmed at school. Children can be hurt by bullies, whether they are abused by other students or adults working at the school. And the injuries are not always physical. Children can be victims of physical and emotional harm in the school setting.
To determine who is ultimately responsible for your child’s school injury, the first question is whether the event that caused the injury is due to intention or negligence.
Intentional torts describe wrongful actions done on purpose and result in injury to another person. This can include bullying, where another child inflicts physical and/or emotional harm to a student. It can also include assault and battery by another student – for instance, a fight that takes place on school grounds,
If another child at school has injured your child, the other child’s parents may be liable for the injury, depending on the circumstances.
Bullying, assault, and battery can also be inflicted by an adult school employee, such as when a teacher physically abuses and/or emotionally abuses a student. Sexual abuse and sexual harassment of a student are also considered intentional torts.
In this case, you can hold the abuser liable. And, in cases of intentional injuries inflicted at school, the school and/or school district may also be responsible for their negligence in allowing the injury to happen. For example, the school may be held liable for negligence if they knew your child was suffering physical abuse by a school employee, or they reasonably should have known and failed to stop it.
School district liability may also apply if the district fails to conduct a background check on a school employee who harmed your child or did not provide adequate training or supervision. Other examples are failing to implement bullying prevention procedures or addressing school bullying that is already happening.
Just as in intentional injuries, cases involving negligence often turn on whether or not the injury was foreseeable. If it is clear that the school, or an employee of the school, knew of a specific danger – or reasonably should have known – but failed to take proper preventive measures, they are liable for negligence.
If the playground equipment at your child’s school is obviously defective or dangerously damaged, and your child is injured, the school would be liable for your child’s injuries.
There are many areas of school district liability because schools provide for children’s basic needs while in their care: shelter, food, transportation, and a safe environment. Injuries that arise from failure to meet these needs are generally known as “premises liability” or a failure to maintain a secure environment.
If your child suffered emotional or psychological trauma at school, whether or not it was accompanied by a physical injury, you may be able to seek damages from those responsible. Children’s mental health is every bit as important as their physical health.
If your child’s emotional distress happened at the hands of a teacher or other school employee, taking action against that person may prevent other students from being similarly abused.
Infliction of emotional distress can also be either intentional or negligent.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress is when a person intentionally causes severe emotional distress or mental trauma to another through extreme or outrageous behavior – or does so with reckless indifference to the person’s safety. Bullying, taunting, humiliating, or sexually harassing a child may be considered intentional infliction of emotional distress.
While physical injury is easier to prove than psychological injury, there are ways to establish the existence of emotional distress. These include the testimony of witnesses or other victims and medical records and/or testimony from doctors, counselors, and caregivers about changes in the child’s weight, appetite, sleeping habits, and behavior.
Negligent infliction of emotional distress occurs when someone’s negligence causes mental distress. This can be very difficult to prove, but it is possible. If there is clear evidence that the person showed a blatant and reckless disregard for the child’s wellbeing, you may be able to collect damages for psychological injuries.
If your child has been injured at school, call Asta Law for a free consultation. Our experienced lawyers will help you with your case and provide the personal attention you and your child need.
A School injury can be emotionally and physically devastating. Michael J. Asta, Esq. is one of New York’s leading injury attorneys with over 500 Million Dollars recovered for clients and over 30 years fighting for New Yorkers like you. You can be confident that the legal team at Asta Law is fully committed to winning the best possible results for our personal injury clients and their families. If your child has been injured at school, call Asta Law at (212) 244-6555 or complete the contact form here on our website so we can help you. The consultation is free, and we work on a contingency basis meaning there is no fee until we obtain compensation on your behalf, guaranteeing you’ll never come out of pocket.
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