It’s a parent’s worse nightmare: a call from the nurse’s office saying that your child has been injured and has been taken to the hospital. It can be a gut-rending experience filled with terror and worry.
With the school year only a few weeks off, we thought we’d take the time to discuss your rights should your child suffer a personal injury at school.
Unfortunately, when it comes to a school lawsuits are difficult. That is because of “sovereign immunity.” But what is sovereign immunity and how is does it help school lawyers defeat any challenge they might face? Let’s take a closer look.
Almost all government agencies are immune from lawsuits, hence sovereign immunity (or governmental immunity for small governments). Since public school districts are considered a part of the local municipal government, they are largely immune to lawsuits.
Still, there are some exceptions in which a lawsuit might be pursued. If, for example, the school was guilty of gross negligence. Additionally, what you can and cannot do will change considerably from state to state. That is why it is so important to confer with local personal injury lawyers.
Even with a something as serious as a traumatic brain injury, which 1.7 million people sustain each year (52,000 of whom die), finding compensation is difficult.
An Uphill Process
When it comes to schools, you will likely contend with a much more difficult legal process. In many places, if you are bringing a lawsuit against a school or other government entity, you will likely have a much shorter window to act.
Additionally, extra steps may be necessary. You might need to inform the school in advance of your intention to sue. That notice of intention has a separate (and shorter) deadline from the one to actually file your suit.
Types of Negligence
Another limitation that you might find is what type of negligence you are allowed to argue. A simple premise liability, one predicated on a hazardous location, is often incredibly difficult, even when allowed. You will need to prove that the extreme negligence has occurred.
If, however, an injury was the result of a human failure, then you might be able to make a case for negligence supervision. While this might be easier that premise negligence, it is still very difficult to pursue.
If your child has been injured at a school, it might be tempting to serve the school lawsuit papers. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult legally. Before you take any legal action in situations like these, make sure you consult with a local lawyer.