Children at school play kickball and dodgeball, while older children play sports that are more organized – and more dangerous. When a child is injured at school, is the school or the school district liable? When should a parent contact a Manhattan school accident attorney?
If you are a parent, and your child is injured at school, you’ll need to know what your rights and options are. When children are injured in school or at a school-sponsored event, who is legally responsible? How can parents recover compensation for medical bills and related damages?
Keep reading this brief discussion of injuries in New York public schools and your family’s rights, and these questions will be answered, but if your own child is injured in school or at a school event, you will need to consult personally with a New York school accident lawyer.
How Many Children Are Injured at Schools?
About fourteen million children and teenagers sustain injuries every year across the United States, and about a quarter of those injuries occur at school, on the way to or from school, or at a school-sponsored event.
In many of these cases, the school district may have liability, even when a school district employee did not personally or directly cause the child’s injury. In some cases, a third party may also have full or partial liability.
In the New York City area, if your child is injured while attending a public school, ask a New York school accident lawyer to review the details of the incident and to identify the party or parties who may be liable for your child’s injury.
Is It Difficult to Sue a Public School?
Filing a lawsuit against any governmental entity or agency in New York is somewhat more complicated than suing a private party. Parents will need to be advised and represented by a New York school accident attorney who is familiar with the requirements and guidelines.
If you choose to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit against a New York public school district, the law requires you and your personal injury attorney to follow these steps and to meet these deadlines:
- Your lawyer must submit a “notice of claim” to the school district within ninety days of your child’s injury. That’s a short deadline, so you must schedule a consultation with a New York personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible after your child has been injured.
- After it receives your notice of claim, the school district has thirty days to investigate your claim. You may be offered a settlement at this time. If a settlement offer is made, discuss the offer with your attorney before you accept or reject it.
- If there is no settlement and you proceed with a personal injury lawsuit against the school district after the thirty-day investigation period, that lawsuit must be filed within one year and ninety days of your child’s injury.
What Does the Law in New York Say About Children, Schools, and Injuries?
The courts in New York have held that on a school’s premises and during school hours, the school is a child’s de facto parent or guardian and is responsible for protecting students from foreseeable harm, risks, and injuries.
But the courts in this state have also held that a school or a school district cannot be held liable for a child’s personal injuries that are the result of an unforeseeable or spontaneous incident.
Thus, in New York, in personal injury cases that name a school district as a defendant, this question must be answered: Was the child’s injury reasonably foreseeable by school authorities or employees?
How Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Handle Your Family’s Case?
In most personal injury cases that involve a child’s injury at a school, a New York City school accident attorney will present one or both of these arguments:
- The school either knew or should have known about a hazard or risk, or the school had “actual notice” of a threat, yet school authorities and employees did nothing to prevent an injury from happening.
- The school provided insufficient supervision – in other words, the school was legally negligent – at the time and place of the incident that caused the injury, and with proper supervision, the injury probably would not have happened.
Can a School District Be Held Liable for Negligent Hiring?
School districts must be careful about hiring teachers and other employees. A school district must conduct comprehensive background checks to make sure that new hires are qualified and that nothing in a background check suggests that an employee poses a potential risk to students.
A school district might be held liable for negligent hiring if, for example, the district:
- hired a teacher, coach, counselor, or bus driver with a known history of sexual abuse
- did not terminate an employee after learning of a sexual abuse incident
- hired a bus driver who did not have the proper training to drive a school bus
What Steps Should Parents Take?
Even if an injury appears trivial, have your child examined immediately by a health care provider. If your child has been injured because another person was negligent, your family has the right to recover compensation for your medical costs and related damages.
As you know, an incident or accusation of sexual abuse or exploitation of a student by a public school teacher or by another school employee is a profoundly serious matter.
If you learn – or if you believe – that your child has been abused or exploited in this way by a teacher or by another school employee, discuss the matter with your attorney at once. If you have proof of that abuse or exploitation, your attorney may recommend involving the police.
What Else Should Parents Know About New York Public Schools?
Is a New York school district liable if your child is injured in a traffic accident while riding a school bus? The answer depends on the details of the accident. Even if another motorist is deemed at-fault, a school district might have a portion of the liability.
If a defective consumer item – for example, defective brakes on a school bus or a defective football helmet – causes a school-related injury, the item’s manufacturer may have a portion of the liability for the injury and may be named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.
If your child is injured in any of these accident scenarios at a New York public school, at a school-sponsored event, or while riding a school bus, after your child has been examined and treated by a medical provider, contact a New York City school accident lawyer immediately.