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Are NY Schools Liable for Student Injuries?

Is Liability Imposed on New York Schools for Student Injuries?
New York City Personal Injury Lawyer I Greenberg & Stein, P.C.

This is a typical concern among parents who are worried about their children’s safety. However, it is impossible to state that the school is responsible for all injuries that a student sustains while on school grounds. The school may be deemed totally or partially accountable for a child’s damage, depending on the origin of the accident. Keep in mind that the liability can be shared between multiple parties. For example, in a school bus accident involving a student, the school bus driver may be accountable to some amount while the other driver is responsible for the remainder. As you can see, determining if a public school is liable for the injuries that a student sustained is not so easy. If your child has been recently harmed in their school premises and you believe the school is responsible, you should contact a lawyer to get legal assistance.

Who is Legally Liable if My Child is Hurt at School?

When a child is hurt in a public school it is possible that the school is liable for the damages sustained by the student. Nonetheless, there are cases where the responsible party is a single individual, like a school officer or school employee. We can classify school injuries in 2 groups:

  • Injuries due to dangerous conditions: You are entrusting your child to the school system when you drop them off at school. This implies they must ensure that the conditions are safe enough for students to be properly cared for. Public schools must inspect all areas where students can possibly be. For example, playgrounds are one of those areas that must be built following all rules and regulations that apply for this area. It is widely known that playgrounds can be dangerous if the conditions are not appropriate and if there is no supervision. Gyms and other areas where sports are practiced have to be carefully inspected to ensure that there are no objects that could harm a student while doing exercise. To sum up, all areas have to be inspected to prevent accidents. If a school does not meet the minimum safety requirements and as a result of this negligence a kid is injured, it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the school. 
  • Injuries caused by others: Not all injuries at school are caused by dangerous conditions, in many cases a kid might get hurt because of someone else’s actions. Bullying at school is something that is very common, but this does not mean it cannot be prevented. Schools must guarantee enough supervision to prevent two or more students from fighting each other and potentially hurting themselves. In situations like the previously mentioned the school can be held liable because they probably did not take the appropriate measures to supervise a specific number of students. Additionally, school authorities must exercise extra caution if they are aware of students who have a history of aggressiveness. On the other side, a person may be held legally responsible for the damages a student may experience. It is possible to file a personal injury lawyer against a school employee who sexually assaults a minor, for example. This does not, however, free the institution entirely of duty. When a school employs a teacher, coach, janitor, or any other member of the staff, they must make sure that they are qualified to interact with kids. If the screening process is not done appropriately, sexual offenders and other kinds of mentally insane people could end up working in a school. Therefore, it is possible to sue a school for this kind of negligence. 

Also check 5 common accidents that happen at school

Is There an Exemption from School Liability for Injuries?

There are a few instances in which the school cannot be held responsible for a student’s injuries. Schools, for example, are not liable for injuries sustained by students when participating in sports. Another instance in which the institution is not liable is when children are injured on school grounds outside of school hours. For instance, if a student accesses the school facilities while it is closed and is injured, the school will not be held accountable.

Do Public Schools Have Governmental Immunity?

Yes, school districts are known as political subdivisions and they are protected by a legal concept known as sovereign immunity. This means that, with a few exceptions, public schools and their personnel are immune from lawsuits in the vast majority of circumstances. However, if certain procedures are followed, this immunity can be waived. Nonetheless, the procedures involved can be tedious, and failure to follow them appropriately could result in the case being dismissed. If you are planning on filing a lawsuit against a public school, you should consider discussing this with an attorney to learn more about the process.

How Does the “Notice of Claim” Process Work in New York?

Before bringing a lawsuit, the “notice of claim” is a written document that must be presented to the proper state agency. The purpose of the notice of claim is to detail the incident, the victim’s injuries, and the amount of money sought by the plaintiff. This document must be completed and submitted within 90 days of the accident. You can file a lawsuit if you do not receive a response in less than 30 days or if no action is taken.

School Injury Lawyer

If you intend to file a lawsuit against a public school, there are a number of factors to consider. However, do not let this deter you from seeking justice. If you suspect a school or a school employee is to blame for your children’s injuries or you are unsure on how to continue with the lawsuit process, please contact us for professional assistance. At Greenberg & Stein P.C. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for people who have been victims of all kinds of accidents. We are a prestigious law firm with years of experience and the members of our legal team have successfully handled many school injury cases in the past. Call us at 212 -969-8753 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys to review your case.