When You Might Need a Lawyer at the Start of the School Year

New Year, New Dangers

From crowded student parking lots to the renovations some schools seem to perpetually undergo, to the constant threat of bullying, there are many things to be cautious of as a parent or a student heading into a new school year. As a fellow parent, the last thing we want is for our kids to get hurt.  However, there is always the possibility of a fight with a fellow peer, a classroom injury, or your child being found in possession of illicit substances. You will want to be preemptively informed on how to respond so you can protect your child.

When Your Student Is Injured

Lawyers can be essential when bringing a case against a school, as they have the ability to obtain records and take the legal actions that you, as a parent, may not be capable of handling on your own, not to mention the incomparable knowledge and objective eye that comes from the experience of having handled these situations before.

Personal Injury

If your child has sustained a serious injury (fractured bone, gashes/scarring, burns, etc.) during school hours, then may be time to contact a personal injury lawyer. They can help you navigate the difficulty in pursuing your rights.  It is difficult to sue a school or school personnel due to governmental immunity laws that protect them from suit in many of these situations.  However, using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) can help a qualified experienced attorney obtain the records and evidence necessary to establish a valid claim that is not barred by governmental immunity.

How the School Itself Can be Held Accountable

It is hard to hold a school accountable for injuries to a student, as they have “governmental immunity”, meaning it is difficult to hold them responsible for incidents that occur at school.  The purpose of this act is to protect schools from being blamed for every single incident that occurs on their campus. Without immunity, schools would be in danger of constantly being involved in one legal battle or another. Cases where a school can be held responsible vary from state to state so it is worth it to brush up on your school’s specific liability code. However, there are some exceptions such as “gross” negligence which, if it is proven, can typically avoid immunity and allow for a recovery.  Gross negligence can be identified in a number   of ways but typically it exists where the action was almost certain to result in harm or where the action was so careless so as to amount to a disregard for whether or  not someone is injured.   

Negligent Supervision

A school can also be held responsible for a student’s injuries if there is “negligent supervision”. If it can be proven that, had the supervising adult done their job correctly, a student’s injury could have been prevented, you may be able to sue for personal injury. In most cases like this, the school will absorb the blame and costs of the staff member’s negligence if the staff member was engaged in a school activity at the time of the injury.

Tort Claim

If your student is a victim of an injury or a death that occurred at school, you may be able to file a claim to receive compensation from the government. State governments fund public schools and in cases of large sums of money being given as compensation to students, the government will most likely cover the costs. It is, however, difficult, if not impossible, to navigate these claims without a lawyer as non-lawyers not versed in the requirements to establish claims that fall outside of governmental immunity.  These claims are also time sensitive and require the school and parties to be placed on proper notice of the event and possible claim within  a short time of the event.  Having proper legal representation can help minimize the amount of stress of properly placing them on notice after your child is injured.

Even When Your Child Could Be At Fault, We Can Help:

Children make mistakes. These mistakes don’t need to define them for the rest of their lives. When they are facing legal troubles, it is imperative to get them the best legal representation.

Illegal Substances

If your child has been found with illegal substances (such as weapons, drugs, or alcohol) your child can face repercussions from his or her school and the police – even if the substances were not used or found on the campus. Your child can be banned from participating in athletic activities, suspended or expelled from school in addition to facing possible criminal charges for the possession, use, or sale of illicit substances. Your school is not always required to take legal action against a child for illegal substances possessed at school, but in case they do you, as a parent, will want the best legal help defending your child.

Physical Altercations

If your child engages in a physical altercation with another student, they may possible face these same in-school and legal repercussions. Beyond detention or suspension, the other family may try to place blame on your student and sue for injuries or personal damages, even if your student didn’t initiate the fight.  Obviously, time erodes memories and, if this situation arises, it is imperative to contact potential witnesses and gather the information necessary to establish the actual facts of the incident.

Let Us Help You

SMDA wants to provide you with the attorneys who will lessen the stress you are under.  If your child requires an attorney because of an incident on school property contact: 866-529-5357 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys at SMDA.