While schools, both public and private, including kindergarten through 12th grade, colleges, universities and trade schools as well, are not the guarantors of your child’s safety, the administrators, teachers, aides and other school personnel nevertheless still owe a duty to prevent foreseeable risks to your children.
Therefore, if the school playground equipment, for example, is defective and dangerous, or if a teacher has been hired regardless of a prior criminal history and assaults a student, or if a child who has a history of bullying has been bullying your child, parents may have a right to bring a case to protect their child’s interest if the child is under the age of 18. Children who have reached the age of 18 can bring their own cases. Teachers must competently supervise children and guard against foreseeable risks. For instance, in a situation where there are too many children and too few teachers on a field trip, and a student is injured, the school may be liable for these injuries under a theory of negligent supervision.
Since public schools are municipal or quasi-municipal entities, there is a peculiarly short period of time within which to give notice to the school of the intent to sue. This period is only 90 days from the date of the injury, which is a very short period of time indeed. Although Courts will occasionally carve exceptions in certain cases for failure to meet this deadline, more commonly it is strictly adhered to. This is why it is crucial to call a lawyer when your child is injured on school premises if you think the injury was caused by the negligence of school personnel. Failure to do so may bar your child from ever obtaining compensation for their injuries.
Sports injuries are very difficult cases to pursue. Generally speaking, the Courts in New York are united in holding that injuries that are a natural consequence of the sport, for instance getting a broken nose from a line drive during a softball game constitute assumption of the risk by the athlete. This is often true regardless of the age of the athlete or whether the sport was intramural, or during a regular gym class when the child was required to participate or risk getting a poor grade. Exceptions may be made if the sport wasn’t properly supervised or if the equipment being used was defective and the teacher/coach knew or should have known. In short, these are very difficult cases to prove.
If your child has been injured in a school activity, please call us for a free evaluation of the case. Call 1 800 427-8071.