Can You Sue Your Child’s School for Injury in Suffolk County, NY
A child getting seriously injured is every parent’s worst nightmare. The impact of such an event can be amplified even greater if it occurs at school. Worse still, it may be the school’s fault. School is meant to be a place where children are safe to learn, grow, and develop. When injuries happen in educational facilities, parents understandably want to take action and see justice done for their children.
Fortunately, under certain circumstances, you can sue your child’s school for their injuries in New York. Additionally, there may be other parties you should include in the lawsuit for your child’s injuries. Lawsuits against schools are usually against the school district – a government entity, and thus there are some specific considerations to take into account when filing a claim against them.
The Carrion Law Firm’s New York personal injury lawyers are ready to talk about your case when you call (718) 841-0083.
What Can I Sue a School for in Suffolk County, NY?
Several different things could result in your child being injured at school. Our Bronx personal injury lawyers may have different lawsuit and trial strategies depending on whether your child’s injuries were caused by a school employee, a fellow student, or another entity.
Besides providing education, one of the primary functions is to supervise their students and make sure they are safe. Schools are required to provide adequate supervision at recess, lunch, and other times when students might interact and get injured. For example, if there are not enough supervisors to keep track of all the students at recess, and a student walks into the street, you can sue the school for not providing reasonable supervision.
Reasonable supervision claims will only succeed against injuries that are foreseeable and that the supervision could have prevented. “Foreseeable” injuries are those injuries that a reasonable person could expect to happen in a school setting. “Preventable” means that supervision could have prevented the injury. Returning to our example, it is foreseeable that a young student might walk into the street, and that kind of injury can be prevented if supervisors are keeping an eye on students out at recess.
Bullying is a serious problem that affects students of all ages. Bullying can be physical or emotional/mental and is not necessarily confined to school grounds. For example, so-called “cyberbullying” of fellow students online is a serious issue that has become increasingly common in the past 20 years. If bullying rises to a level actionable under the law, such as if it is racially based or results in physical injury, you can file a lawsuit against the student’s parents as well as the school itself.
Sovereign Immunity in Lawsuits against Schools in Suffolk County, NY
As government entities, school districts have something called “sovereign immunity.” Essentially, sovereign immunity means that a government entity must agree to be sued in court. Understandably, there is no incentive for the government to agree to be sued. However, in New York, sovereign immunity can be waived if you follow certain procedures and meet certain deadlines prior to filing a lawsuit against a school district.
Deadlines for Suing a School District in Suffolk County, NY
There are time limits in place for lawsuits against state entities, like school districts, that are different from the timetable for an ordinary personal injury lawsuit. Per C.V.P. Law § 217-A, actions against state entities must be commenced within one year and 90 days of the incident. However, there is an even shorter timeframe to file lawsuits against schools set in G.M.U. Law § 50-E(a). For lawsuits against the New York Department of Education, you must file your claim with the appropriate school district within 90 days of the incident.
After you file your claim with the school district, the district has an additional 90 days to request a 50-H hearing pursuant to G.M.U. Law § 50-H. At this hearing, you will explain your claim to the Department of Education. If your child is 18 or older, they may explain their own claim to the Department. After the 50-H hearing, you have one year and 90 days to file a lawsuit against the school district.
Suing Private Entities for Your Child’s Injury at School
There are different procedures for suing entities that are not public schools for a child’s injuries. Since these are not government bodies, these steps are akin to the steps you would take to file a personal injury lawsuit against an individual person or a regular private entity.
Although they are privately run, it is still good practice to notify the relevant school district within 90 days of the incident. However, private schools are not government entities and thus do not have sovereign immunity like public schools.
While your child’s school is the most obvious target for a lawsuit if they were injured on school grounds, they may not necessarily be the correct defendant for your lawsuit. If your child was injured by a private entity on school grounds, your lawsuit should be directed at that entity, not the school, to be successful. For example, if your child was injured because of defective playground equipment, you should file a claim against the manufacturer of the equipment as well as the school district in order to have the best chance to recover damages. Alternatively, if your child was riding a school bus and the driver got in an accident, you may have a claim against the bus driver individually as well as the bus company.
Our New York Personal Injury Lawyers are Ready to Help
Our Queens personal injury lawyers from The Carrion Law Firm can be reached at (718) 841-0083 for a free review of your child’s case.